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Massage For Chronic Back Pain

What Is The Best Type Of Massage For Lower Back Pain

Self Massage for Low Back Pain

With so many kinds of massage therapy, choosing the best one for lower back pain can be confusing. However, the type you choose may not be all that important research suggests that both relaxing massage techniques and deep tissue therapy may be equally effective for symptom relief. Instead, it may be better to find a good massage therapist that will tailor a treatment to your preferences.

Popular types of massage include:

Muscles In The Lower Back

The lower back consists of five spinal vertebrae, which are cushioned by intervertebral discs. The ligaments maintain the vertebrae in place, while tendons attach muscles to bones.

There are two major muscles that work together to stabilize and support the spine and hips. They are the quadratus lumborum muscle in the lower back and the gluteus medius in the buttocks. When these muscles are strained, they feel stiff, tired, and painful.

Though disease, like spinal disc degeneration, can cause low pain, the most common reasons for muscle strain include sitting with poor posture for hours at a time, lifting heavy items improperly, and not maintaining strong back muscles through regular exercise. Stress can also cause tense or tight muscles, which are more prone to injury.

Low back pain can interfere with even simple activities, like bending forward to tie shoes or working at a computer.

How Can Massage Therapy Treat Your Chronic Pain

Lets explore the history of massage, the variety of massage techniques available, and most importantly, how massage can treat your chronic pain!

Ann-Marie D’arcy-Sharpe& nbsp& nbspAuthorFebruary 21, 2020

Massage therapy plays a significant part in many pain management approaches. Massage is commonly used to treat a wide variety of health conditions and can provide some really positive results for chronic pain patients. Massage therapy is defined as, patterned and purposeful manipulation of soft-tissue for therapeutic purposes to prevent or reduce pain, spasm, tension or stress and to promote health and wellness,as this 2019 study explains.

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When Is Massage Therapy Recommended For Back Pain

Massage therapy may be a good option for treating and managing back pain in the following situations:

  • As an alternative to potentially addictive pain medications, especially in mild to moderate cases
  • As a pain management supplement before and/or after a surgical procedure
  • As a complementary therapy to other forms of treatment
  • To enhance psychological and physical well-being during recovery from a procedure
  • As a basic stress reliever for ongoing chronic pain management

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Massage Relieves But Does Not Cure Chronic Low

Current trends suggest massage has become a popular treatment option for chronic low-back pain. Massage, among the earliest known tools for treating pain, can promote muscle relaxation, improved circulation and general feelings of well-being. And it doesnt involve surgery or prescription pill bottles. Massage feels great. But is it a cure?

Current trends suggest massage has become a popular treatment option for chronic low-back pain. Massage, among the earliest known tools for treating pain, can promote muscle relaxation, improved circulation and general feelings of well-being. And it doesnt involve surgery or prescription pill bottles. Massage feels great. But is it a cure?

Probably not but it is effective at reducing pain and improving function, says Dr. Andrea Furlan, who is the evidence-based practice coordinator at the Institute for Work & Health. Furlan has published a new systematic review that looks at the effectiveness of massage versus other non-surgical therapies for non-specific chronic low-back pain. This type of back pain lasts for more than three months.

Massage is not a miracle intervention, Furlan said.

Additional Topics: Lower Back Pain After Auto Injury

After being involved in an automobile accident, neck injuries and aggravated conditions, such as whiplash, are some of the most commonly reported types of injuries, due to the force of the impact. A study discovered, however, that the seat of a vehicle can often lead to injuries as well, causing lower back pain and other symptoms. Lower back pain is also among one of the most common types of automobile accident injuries in the U.S. alone.

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Does Massage Help Back Pain

There is a lot of published research that demonstrates massage can help back pain. The American Massage Therapy Association points to the research to support the belief that therapeutic massage is effective for persistent low back pain and able to provide long-lasting benefits. The benefits of back massage include the following:

  • Reduces or eliminates pain
  • Assists with easing feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Speeds up the return to normal activities
  • Supplements conventional treatments, like taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers and applying ice or heating pads

A physical therapist or a massage therapist can provide therapeutic massages. A physical therapist will include massage as one element of a treatment plan that may include activities like light exercises and stretching. If the low back pain is due to muscle strain, many people find a massage therapist on their own. The massage for muscle strain is often all it takes to experience pain relief.

How Massage Helps Back Pain

Massage More Effective for Low Back Pain

Massage is beneficial for both acute and chronic back pain. It works by:

  • Boosting Blood Flow to the Affected Tissues

    Blood brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and other components of the back, which nourishes these tissues and encourages healing. Improved circulation also ensures the efficient removal of waste products from damaged tissue.

  • Reducing Muscular Tension

    Tense and tight muscles can cause significant pain and discomfort. Luckily, massage therapy targets the soft tissues of the back in order to relax areas of tension and tightness.

    Constant contraction and muscle tension can lead to the development of myofascial pain syndrome. In this chronic pain condition, sensitive points in the muscles called trigger points or muscle knots lead to pain in the back and surrounding areas.

  • Increasing the Levels of Endorphins in the Body

    Endorphins are chemicals that the body releases in response to pain or stress. They bring about pain relief and increase levels of relaxation and happiness.

    Massage causes the body to release endorphins along with other feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters increase feelings of joy, motivation, and positive emotions.

    Other ways to boost your levels of endorphins include regular exercise, yoga and meditation, and helping others.

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Massage Therapy As Part Of Your Back Pain Treatment Plan

At Wasserman Chiropractic, our skilled massage therapists offer several massage techniques to help our patients recover from various injuries and conditions, including chronic back pain. Whether used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as chiropractic care and physical therapy, massage therapy can greatly benefit your recovery process.

Additionally, massage therapy is safe, natural, and non-invasive. This makes it an excellent choice for all of our patients, including those with underlying conditions.

Quadratus Lumborum Muscle Massage

The quadratus lumborum muscle extends throughout your lower back and consists of several layers. This muscle is an extensor of the spine, allowing you to bend backward. The muscle also helps you bend your torso sideways.1

The quadratus lumborum muscle can become fatigued, stiff, strained, and/or painful when you perform certain daily activities, such as:

  • Lifting that requires leaning over something, for example, getting groceries out of the trunk of your car
  • Leaning over a sink while doing dishes
  • Sitting slumped in a chair
  • Running on uneven pavement

A sharp, stabbing, urgent pain in your low back may indicate a hypertonic quadratus lumborum. Sometimes, you may feel a dull, constant ache with some degree of stiffness.

The quadratus lumborum muscle may also develop painful trigger point nodules, cause entrapment of nerves within its fibers, or be subject to direct trauma, causing lower back pain.1

The muscle must be stretched and massaged simultaneously by your therapist in order to reduce lower back pain.

See Non-Surgical Treatments for Lower Back Pain

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Types And Styles Of Massage

Massage For Chronic Low Back Pain

There are two basic types of massage: whole body and structural. The whole body massage promotes general relaxation. The spine massage techniques that target specific muscles and connective tissue are called structural massages. A structural massage that targets the muscles from the buttocks and up to the neck is effective for relieving lower back pain.

Some massage styles include the whole body with a special focus on a targeted area. However, all massage styles have the likelihood of helping to relieve pain. The best style to have the most impact depends on what is causing the pain and preferences of the patient or client. The various styles of massage include, but are not limited to:

  • Swedish massage a whole body gentle massage for relaxation and to relieve muscle knots.
  • Shiatsu massage a Japanese style whole body massage using pulsing pressure and includes a focus on areas of the body needing attention.
  • Trigger point massage the whole body that includes an extra focus on specific areas of pain caused by tightness in muscle tissues.
  • Deep tissue massage a whole-body massage that uses pressure to relieve tension in deeper layers of connective tissues and muscles.

There are other styles of massage, like Reflexology and Sports Massage, but the ones listed are some of the more common. For people who experience back pain, massage therapy can bring much-needed relief. There is no set amount of sessions recommended because each situation is different.

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But How Can Massage Help

Massage loosens muscle tightness, which is often a big contributor to the above culprits of lower back pain. As remedial massage therapists, there are a few things we can do to alleviate this discomfort and help you move and feel yourself again.

My favorite muscle to check for lower back pain has to be the Quadratus Lumborum ! We activate this muscle constantly for side-and back bending as well as rotation of the upper body. As this muscle is attached to the bottom rib, the lumbar spine as well as the hip, a dysfunction in the QL can cause a lot of discomfort in the lower back.

After addressing the QL, the gluteus medius should also be looked at as it is also in constant use during our daily movements. As this muscle attaches to the pelvis, when it is tight it can really affect how the lower back feels. Tightness in the hamstrings can cause lower back pain as well, which can be loosened well with massage. So both the gluts and hamstrings should be managed regularly with massage and at home through stretching or foam rolling.

I believe to work on the hip flexors is also very important especially in people, who are sitting down a lot or bending forward. There are some allied health professionals, who might not agree with this statement, but I achieved some really good results by loosening and/or activating the hip flexors.

How Massage Can Help Your Lower Back Pain

by Patty Weasler, RNAugust 13, 2019

Massage for lower back pain is an easy and effective way to alleviate symptoms and promote full-body relaxation. Massage therapy is especially beneficial for back pain resulting from tense or strained muscles. Learn more about the benefits of back massage and discover specific tips and techniques for effective pain relief.

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How Can Massage Help Lower Back Pain

Regular Remedial Massage can help ease some of the muscular pain by using techniques such as deep and soft tissue massage, trigger point therapy and dry needling. Releasing the large muscles around the spine, gluts, hip flexors and hamstrings, can help improve muscle tone and release pressure on the nerves around the spine which send the pain signals to the brain. Remedial massage will also help improve posture and flexibility, which in turn can reduce pain in the lower back.

What Are The Best Types Of Massage For Lower Back Pain

Low Back Pain and QL Massage for Chronic Low Back Pain Relief

The best massage for lower back works hard to address tight, sore, sticky tissues with the appropriate level of pressure for each person.

While chronic lower back pain can be treated by massage, not all styles of massage are good for all types of pain. And the effects of massage vary due to differences in techniques and the skill of the therapist.

Common types of massage therapy include:

  • Acupressure
  • Myofascial release
  • Craniosacral therapy

Here are five types of pain management massage that can help with different types of pain, including back pain and neck pain .

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Theraflow Handheld Deep Tissue Percussion Massager

For an extendable power cord

This electric handheld massager comes with three attachments for shiatsu-style, acupoint, and scalp massage. It also has an extendable power cord.

People can choose from three intensity levels. The company says that this massager can deliver 2,2003,200 PPM and comes with a 1-year warranty.

The product costs around $39.99 on Amazon.

Massage Styles For Back Pain

When youre dealing with pain, its crucial to know which kind of massage is suited for you. There are many different styles of massage, including variations of relaxation and remedial massage. Balancing pressure, style and techniques is the formula for getting the most out of your massage.

Remedial Deep Tissue massage

Deep tissue massage is a form of remedial massage. Strong and variable pressure is used on the affected muscles. Strokes are usually long and slow. Deep tissue massage is the go-to massage style for those experiencing chronic pain or afflicted by an injury, old or new.

Your deep tissue massage therapist will employ parts of their upper body to work the muscles correctly. This includes palms, fingers, thumbs, elbows and forearms. This means that each muscle can be fine-tuned, so dont be intimidated if your therapist tells you theyre going in with their knuckles next.

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Common Causes Of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back painis usually age-related, but can also result from a prior injury. The mostcommon causes include:

In some cases, its difficult to pinpoint the cause of chronic back pain.If your doctor has exhausted all diagnostic options, its time to seek asecond opinion from a back pain specialist, recommends Nava. Itsimportant not to make rushed decisions or undergo extensive medicalprocedures until the origin of the pain is found. Not only may they nothelp they could make the pain worse, warns Nava.

If the source of the pain is not known or cant be treated, your bestoption may be to work with your doctor on reducing the flare-ups and makingthe pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments.

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Massage Research Going Forward


Ultimately, more research is needed to confirm the effect of different massage types on back pain over the long term. This can help bridge the gap between research and clinical practice by massage therapists. There are many different massage techniques, such as Swedish Massage, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Deep Tissue, and Reflexology among others. Some massage styles may have more of an impact on back pain than others. However, there is no denying the findings so far are encouraging.

Massage is a less intrusive treatment option that carries little risk for the patient. At the very least it is something physicians and physical therapists should consider strongly before recommending surgery, which should only be used after other therapies have failed. Also, there are many potential benefits to massage beyond back pain reduction. As more research is conducted, well have a better understanding of how massage fits into a more holistic approach to healthcare, and how it can be applied to help different patients.

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A Targeted Massage For Back Pain

Deep tissue massage involves a professional placing a controlled amount of pressure upon areas that are causing you discomfort. Through the use of strokes and finger movements, it is possible to reach muscles located deeper within the body. If you are suffering from chronic pain and other superficial techniques have not produced results in the past, a deep tissue massage for back pain could be the ideal solution.

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