Black woman holding lower back as if in pain

Can massage help with my back pain?

A 2018 study found that massage may be more effective in treating non-specific chronic low back pain than other traditional methods. This study found that 40% of participants who received massage treatment for their back pain reported significant improvements in their levels of pain, compared to 4% of participants who received no massage treatments but continued with their usual treatment.

What’s different about a sports massage for back pain?

The study referenced above found that both ‘relaxation’ (Swedish massage) and ‘structural’ (sports) massage can help with low back pain - and I offer both types. A sports massage is a targeted deep tissue treatment, specifically aimed at the areas of discomfort. For the low back, this could mean treating the back itself, the glutes and perhaps also the legs - it all depends on how your pain manifests and where it is coming from. Regardless of whether my clients prefer a sports or Swedish massage, I work with all my clients to give them a tailored treatment - my massages are often very different from session to session as I work with you to treat your problems, rather than sticking to a set routine. I also use techniques such as post-isometric relaxation, positional release and reciprocal inhibition to help with tight or shortened muscles, as appropriate for each individual client.

Is back pain very common?

Back pain - especially low back pain - will affect many of us at some point in our lives. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) states that ‘up to 60% of the adult population can expect to have low back pain at some time in their life’, with prevalence peaking at around the age of 40-50. Even at low levels back pain can be miserable - and at its most severe it can be disabling. 

As someone who has suffered low back pain myself, I understand how miserable it can be to be constantly in discomfort. However I’ve also found strategies that helped me to deal with this issue, including massage and exercise.

What’s causing my back pain?

Back pain can have a wide variety of causes. If you are experiencing back pain which is severe enough to affect your day-to-day life, your GP may be a good first port of call to rule out any serious underlying causes, such as injury to the discs in your spinal column.

That said, back pain can be caused by a number of seemingly innocuous factors. Many of us spend a lot of time sitting - at desks, at home, in our cars - and this doesn't do our backs any good. Few of the chairs we sit in are designed to support our posture, and let’s be honest - how many of us have great posture when we’re sitting anyway? Sitting in a slumped or hunched position for long periods of time can cause back muscles to become tense, overly lengthened or overly shortened, leading to aches and pains.

What will massage do to help?

Massage can help to relieve muscular tension, and take our nervous system from a ‘flight, fight or freeze’ state to a ‘relax, rest and digest’ state. This in turn can help to relieve pain and discomfort. And when we relieve that discomfort, that can then make it easier for you to undertake any strengthening work that you may need to do to deal with the underlying cause of your pain. The NHS recommends that manual therapy should be carried out alongside an exercise programme - such as this pilates video.

Back pain is probably one of the most common complaints that my clients experience, and one that massage can often help to relieve. If your back is causing you discomfort, you can book in with me at my Kenninnghall therapy room. Or feel free to get in touch to discuss whether massage is a good option for you.

Author Hannah Tabram. Category Blog. First published Thu, 19 May 2022 10:42:04 +0100