An estimated 85 percent of all American adults will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime.
Lower back pain is also one of the leading causes of job disability in the world.
With Americans spending a staggering $50 billion to treat—and prevent—lower back pain each year, it is safe to say that people are desperate for relief from this chronic discomfort.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Many people with low back pain fear unnecessarily that their pain is related to structural problems and spinal fragility, which is normally not the case.
Lower back pain can be attributed to a number of factors, including physical activity, injury, poor posture, obesity, stress and even the simplest of movements like picking something up incorrectly.
What Research Shows
Fortunately, a growing number of scientific studies suggest that massage therapy can help significantly reduce inflammation and provide much needed relief from chronic back pain.
In fact, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on massage for back pain showed both Swedish massage and deep tissue massage methods were equally as effective at improving disabilities from lower back pain and painful symptoms.
Relaxation and structural massage tactics both provide healing benefits.
Massage for Back Pain: How it Helps
While most people wouldn’t have issue with the idea of a regular massage, if you are one of the many who suffers from lower back pain, the following are ways that regular massage for back pain can help you find serious relief:
1. Increased blood flow. Increased blood flow is a known proponent of muscle recovery and studies confirm that massage therapy helps improve general blood flow and reduces soreness.
Research also shows that massage therapy improves the vascular function in people who have and have not exercised, which suggests that the vascular benefits of massage may span beyond the recipient’s level of physical activity.
2. Decreased tension. While muscle tension is needed by the body to maintain body posture and general movements, too much tension causes pain and muscle restriction, especially in the lower back and neck. Massage therapy is clinically proven to decrease muscle tension.
3. Increased endorphins. Endorphins are the feel good chemicals in the brain. Massage tactics including acupressure and trigger point therapy generate these endorphins, which are known to reduce pain and produce a sense of euphoria.
Research shows a mere 15 minutes of massage can spark endorphins, creating up to 48 hours of their feel-good effects.
4. Heat application. Superficial heat during massage is also recommended for lower back pain. Warm stone massages, hot towels and heat packs are ideal add-ons for massage services related to lower back pain.
Massage is not a luxury that is only available for those who like to indulge at luxury spas and upscale resorts.
Research shows that massage therapy is a clinically proven method to reduce symptoms of widespread and debilitating conditions, including lower back pain.
If you experience lower back pain, below are a few tips for your next session focusing on massage for back pain:
Tell your therapist. Being extremely open with your therapist about problem spots and potential causes for your lower back pain is of the upmost importance.
Transparency will help your therapist to best treat the pain by spending time targeting pressure points and tension areas.
Ask for heat. Ask your therapist for massage add-ons like Himalayan salt stones or warm towels to help your muscles relax and release tension.
Make a regular appointment. If you suffer from lower back pain, massage therapy should be part of your regular health program.
Scheduling a bi-weekly or monthly appointment with your preferred therapist is important for continued healing.
About the Author
Eric Stephenson is an innovative educator, consultant and entrepreneur. As the Chief Wellness Officer for Elements Massage, Stephenson has contributed to the brand’s growth in becoming one of the largest providers of massage therapy in the United States. Stephenson is a founding partner of Well World Group, a co-founder of imassage, Inc., and a board member of the International Spa Association. In 2016 he joined a group of international educators bringing medical massage as a health profession career track to India. Stephenson has worked with some of the biggest names in the wellness industry, including Wynn/Encore Las Vegas, Kamalaya Thailand, Sandals Resorts and Spas, Grove Park Inn Asheville, Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.