Massage For Lower Back Pain

What about massage for lower back pain? Does it help? What kind of massage works? How often should you get a massage? Can it cause more problems?

These are all legitimate questions that will be addressed.

Anyone suffering with low back pain has at one time or another considered going to a massage therapist.

In the past 10 to 15 years there has been an explosion of massage therapist. Almost every family has a member, relative, or friend that is a massage therapist. Everywhere you look you can find massage therapy being offered in hair salons, doctors offices, gyms, spas, nail salons, health-food stores, hotels, private massage centers, corporations and franchise operations. The locations and availability are endless and dizzying. Yet low back pain continues to plague mankind.

What Is Massage?

Massage is the friction or kneading motion of muscles and connective tissue to enhance function, encourage healing, promote relaxation, health and well-being.

Massage for lower back pain can be performed both manually with the hands, elbows, feet or by mechanical measures with the use of roller tables and vibrators.

The tissue most often targeted are the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue such as fascia.

Other targeted tissues or areas for massage therapy include the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, colon, intestines) and lymphatics.

Most often the subject is in the recumbent position or seated in a special massage chair. Clients can be fully or partially unclothed with toweling or sheets used to cover body parts.

Various oils and lotions can be used to promote glide and often include sensed oils for perceived therapeutic benefits.

Dry massage, without the use of lubricant oils, can also be employed.

Precautions With Massage

Massage should not be used on anyone with deep vein thrombosis, bleeding disorders, taking blood thinners, cancer, or fever. Caution should be used with the osteoporotic and those that have a tendency to bruising or where there exists a fracture or suspected fracture.

Benefits of Massage

The benefits from massage include temporary pain relief, a decrease in blood pressure, a decrease in heart rate and anxiety. There are no studies proving the efficacy of massage for lower back pain that show any long-term pain relief. There are some studies that show that massage for lower back pain can aid in recovery when combined with other therapeutic measures such as exercise, chiropractic adjustments and stretching.

Types of Massage

Some of the more common massage techniques include:

  • Swedish massage which involves long, flowing types of strokes
  • Traditional Chinese massage which involves a more needing motion such as pushing and stretching
  • Stone massage that incorporates the use of heated smooth stones that are used to apply pressure over the area being treated
  • Shiatsu which makes the use of pressure to acupuncture points combined with kneading, stretching and rolling
  • Foot and hand reflexology were certain spots on the hands and feet, that supposedly correlates with other body parts and organs, are massaged to effect a reflex response to those associated body parts
  • Myofascial release where the muscles and fascia are taken through a range of motion while applying pressure to restricted tissue or over trigger points
  • Lymphatic drainage massage is used to assist in the drainage of congested or swollen tissue due to poor lymphatic flow
  • Deep tissue massage focuses on the muscle tissue. A heavier and more sustained, slow pressure kneading is applied. This is most often used on chronic pain sufferers, athletes, heavily muscled individuals and those engaged in heavy manual labor
  • Acupressure is massage administered over traditional acupuncture points with little or minimal motion used
  • Trigger point massage is a goading or kneading motion applied over trigger points. The goal is to deactivate pain producing trigger points (myofascial pain). Myofascial massage for lower back pain can be very effective

How Often to Massage

Massage can be performed once or twice a week in the early stages of care. As the muscle and connective tissue return to a more normal nature the frequency of massage therapy can be shortened to once or twice a month. At this stage, in most cases, massages more than this are of little value.

All massage therapy has beneficial effects some more so than others. It can assist in the healing process, reduce pain and anxiety and, if affordable, can add to your overall well-being if used on a regular basis. As a short term or once a month frequency the benefits are of little value aside from feeling good and promoting temporary relaxation.

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