Statistics show that almost 8 out of ten people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50%. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known that in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back.
Massage can be a very important tool for relieving back pain. Massage can be used proactively to prevent backaches and also in a retroactive way to help relieve back pain that is already present. Let’s look at some ways that massage can help with back pain.
Hot stone massage is a form of massage that allows the massage therapist to utilize smooth, flat, heated stones. The stones are used to warm up tight muscles and relax them. This gives the massage therapist the ability to work on other parts of the body. They are placed on specific pressure points. As the areas are warmed and relaxed, it then allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure without discomfort.
Tuina (pronounced “twee na”) is a form of Chinese massage often used in conjunction with acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities to help the body heal itself and maintain balance. Tuina is used to establish or reestablish the proper flow of blood and energy throughout the body. Tuina uses various hand techniques to enhance the healing process by bringing the muscles and tissues back into balance. There are many different techniques utilized in tuina, including gliding, shaking, pulling, tapping, kneading, rolling and pressing. Tuina combines massage and acupressure to remove blockages in the body, thus leading to improved health and well-being.
There are also specific acupressure points that are known to be helpful for relieving back pain. Here are just a couple of the most common:
- Gallbladder 34 – This point is found bilaterally on the outer side of the lower leg. It can be found in the depression that is in front of and below the head of the fibula. This point is known as the influential point of the tendons.
- Urinary Bladder 40 – This point is located bilaterally on the crease behind the knee, right in the center, directly behind the knee cap. This point helps relieve pain along the spine. It is helpful for relieving muscle spasms and reducing pain associated with sciatic nerve involvement, which stems from the low back.
Self-massage is another great way to relieve back pain. Many people hold their stress in their upper or lower back, which leads to tight muscles, muscle spasms and even headaches. By gently massaging the muscles along the spine, back pain can be greatly reduced. Adding heat before and after massaging will help to keep the muscles loose with less chance of spasming.
Regardless of how you choose to deal with your back pain, consider including massage in your healing regime. Regular massage can keep muscles from tensing up, increase circulation and improve posture. All of these things may contribute to back pain and a regular massage might just be the answer you need.