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Massage for Back Ache

Why massage only sometimes helps or can even make matters worse

Backache and back pain results from our lifestyle choices, heavy lifting, bad posture and a multitude of other things. About 90% of the population suffers from some degree of backache and for most people, pain relief medication is usually the first option and when that fails, people began to look for alternative solutions.

Where back pain persists, many people will go to the doctor who will typically prescribe a course of pain relief medication (analgesic) and if that fails, there are a host of surgical options such as spinal fusion which locks the individual into a lifetime of limited movement and probably a lifetime of mild pain or numbness in the area.

For many people, a more pleasant treatment is massage. It costs a little more than a doctor’s visit and you generally feel good afterwards although it doesn’t always relieve the pain. There are many reasons for this, your massage therapist might not know anything about treating backache or what they do know maybe erroneous or incomplete.

The nature of pain in relation to the spine

The human body is extremely complex mechanism and as with most of our technology, very few people have ever read the user’s manual. This means that we jump into life without knowing what we’re getting ourselves into thereby creating unpredictable stress factors.

Our initial experience of stress is within our minds, but the mind cannot store the stress and what the mind does is to transfer the stress to some part of the body. It could be an internal organ, or it could be a single muscle or a muscle group. We all know people referred to as pains in the neck, the stress relating to them tends to build up around the neck and perhaps cause headaches. Typically many people carry the weight of the world upon their shoulders leading to tightness across the upper back and rounding of the shoulders along with spinal pain. With more personal stress factors, they tend to be locked away deep inside the pelvis and reproductive system causing an imbalance there.

In terms of physical activity such as work and sport, the way the body is used also produces stress factors within the musculature and skeletal structure. A muscular tightness resulting from activity means the muscle group is contracted and this creates a flow on effect throughout the body. This means that a strained calf muscle will affect how you walk which in turn distorts or strains another muscle in the hip which in turn affects muscles within the spine itself. This mean that spinal discomfort is a symptom of stress in other muscles, in particular the muscles of the hips and pelvis.

The effectiveness of massage

Modern massage industry has become very politically correct, by following the American system it has become inappropriate for therapists to perform complete full body massages. The hips and front torso have become places not to be touched, not to be treated and this has many unfortunate consequences.

A therapist may identify strain in the calf muscle as described above, and to a certain extent they may relieve that imbalance through direct pressure on the affected muscles, yet during the time that has passed before getting their problems attended to, the imbalance has transferred up through the body and pain is being experienced in the lower back due to a distortion within the hips. The therapist who does not treat the hip area and only released to one segment of discomfort sets up a precondition that the person goes away from the massage in greater agony.

In general terms, a soft all over full body massage will release a great deal of stress and this is often sufficient to allow the body to in effect balance itself. Unfortunately too many massage clients these days adhere to modern standards of political correctness or have body issues that they don’t want their hips massaged. This nullifies the effect of the massage.

Piriformis Stretch

When being massaged by a professional therapist with the intent of relieving specific aches and pains within the body, the client needs to undress completely and to give the therapist permission to follow the lines of stress within the body. Due to the nature of our existence, most people have multiple lines of stress that not only cause pain within the joints and musculature, they impair the functioning of the internal organs.

For any massage to be effective, the entire body needs to be treated. A light relaxation massage will ease the pain and help the body to restore itself. A therapeutic or remedial massage will work deeper into the musculature and may combine stretches to affect the deeper muscles within the body.

After any massage, along with drinking plenty of water, sitting quietly and spending a little time in nature helps recovery. That when one has chronic or severe back pain, a course of treatments are generally required along with some moderation of lifestyle activities.

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