Approximately 8% of all American adults experience chronic back pain, a condition that limits their ability to perform everyday tasks. Back pain is also one of the leading causes of disability and a common reason why most adults skip work.
Unfortunately, back pain is one of the most costly medical problems. According to recent statistics, Americans spend about $50 billion every year on back pain treatment. In many cases, these expensive treatments involve invasive procedures such as surgery and injections.
The good news is that there are more affordable non-invasive back pain treatment options that you can consider for your chronic back pain.
Case in point: back massage.
Back massage is a non-invasive and non-pharmacological (doesn’t involve medication) treatment option that effectively relieves pain caused by acute and chronic back problems.
Moreover, with the invention of at-home massagers, you can now enjoy a massage in the comfort of your home. For instance, a pillow-like neck and back massager can help relieve tension and pain among people suffering from moderate back pain.
So, want to learn more on how to back massage for pain relief?
Read on, and learn about effective massage techniques that can help treat your painful or sore back.
How Does Massage Therapy Help with Back Pain
Massage therapy is an effective treatment option for people with various back problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle tension
Massage therapy often involves using at-home massagers or visiting a massage therapist.
If you choose the latter, the therapist will use their hands or specialized tools such as a massage gun to massage your sore or painful back muscles. This improves the circulation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the affected muscles. The massage will further help promote relaxation and eliminate waste from your body.
Other benefits of massage therapy, according to the American Massage Therapy Association, include:
- Massage therapy helps put pressure on pain trigger points leading to pain relief
- It helps relax muscles which improve your ability to perform everyday tasks
- It helps improve blood flow to the back muscles, which reduces soreness
- Enhances the production of endorphin - the feel-good chemical that helps relieve chronic pain
- It helps reduce the production of lactic acid in your back muscles, which causes back soreness
- Massage therapy helps ease anxiety, insomnia, and stress
Now let’s look at the different massage therapies you can use for back pain relieve
1. Myofascial Release Massage
Myofascial massage, also referred to as myofascial trigger point therapy, focuses on relieving tightness and pain in the myofascial tissue.
Myofascial is a tissue network connecting your body’s joints, bones, and muscles. If the fascia becomes sticky and thick, it will tighten around your body muscles, leading to painful muscle spasms and limited mobility.
A myofascial release massage involves finding areas in the fascia tissue that are particularly stiff. Your therapist will use their hands and a combination of specialized tools to find and massage the tight muscles.
This therapy aims to stretch the fascia tissue to help increase blood circulation and restore movement.
A notable difference between myofascial release therapy and other types of massage is that this therapy can be pretty intense, as it involves applying pressure on the stiff muscles to help them relax.
Myofascial therapy is not only effective for chronic back pain, but it’s also used to treat myofascial pain syndrome, chronic headaches, venous insufficiency, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
2. Craniosacral Massage
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a non-invasive hands-on technique that helps relieve pain and stress caused by compression in the pelvis, spine, and skull bones.
The therapy involves using gentle pressure on the back, neck, and head to help normalize the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. It’s believed that blockages and imbalances inhibiting the normal flow of the cerebrospinal fluid to the brain and spinal cord often lead to pain and stress.
In addition to improving the functioning of your central nervous system, CST also enhances your body’s healing capabilities.
CST has been successfully used in the past to treat back pain plus other medical conditions such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Central nervous system disorders
3. Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a common treatment for chronic back pain and sports injuries. This massage involves the use of slow, deep strokes on targeted muscles and tissues.
The sustained pressure from deep tissue massage helps reduce tension and break adhesions found in the inner muscle layers. The technique may also promote the faster healing of a sports injury and also reduce inflammation and muscle pain.
Deep tissue massage is recommended for people with medium to high pain tolerance levels. After the massage, some soreness is expected, but this should go away after a few days.
4. Swedish Massage
This is the most common type of massage, as it’s gentle and relaxing. Your therapist will use light, deep, and vigorous strokes on your body.
A classic Swedish massage is done on the whole body, although your therapist may choose to spend more time on tight and tense muscles.
In addition to promoting relaxation, the Swedish massage helps relieve lower back stiffness and pain, increase blood circulation, move the metabolic waste from your muscles, and lower the production of cortisol - the stress hormone.
5. Trigger Point Massage
Trigger point massage applies firm pressure on your body trigger points to help eliminate pain.
Trigger points are muscle contractions or knots that develop due to the overuse of a muscle, stress, or trauma. The knots reduce the supply of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the affected muscles. The contracted muscles also lead to the buildup of metabolic waste, leading to discomfort and pain.
Trigger point massage involves using sustained pressure to release the muscular spasms. The pressure that is constantly applied for 10 to 30 seconds helps promote the normal functioning of the muscles.
Trigger point massage is very effective for chronic pain and migraines brought about by muscular spasms.
Back pain is a widespread medical condition affecting 8% of all adults. It’s a leading cause of chronic pain, discomfort, and disability.
Massage therapy is one of the most affordable and effective back pain treatment options. Massage techniques such as myofascial release, deep tissue, craniosacral, Swedish, and trigger point are all excellent examples of therapies that one can use to treat back pain.
Hopefully, now you know what to expect when you go for any of the above therapies. Remember to always seek the services of professional massage therapists if you want to get results from any of the mentioned back pain treatment options.