Massage for Back Pain Relief

massage for back pain

If you are one of the 8 million adults who suffers with back pain at some point in their life, you’ll know how miserable it can be. ... Massage for Back Pain Relief

A regular massage is often considered to be a treat, rather than a necessity. Most people believe that having a massage is good for aches and pains, or can help if they’ve overdone the exercise.

Not everybody realises that massage therapy is also a powerful natural painkiller that can even be used to help people with back problems to reduce the amount of medication they must take.

Approximately 8 million adults in the UK  report chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling[1]. Back pain alone accounts for 40% of sickness absence in the NHS[2] and overall it costs £10 billion for the UK economy[3]

If you are one of the 8 million adults who suffers with back pain at some point in their life, you’ll know how miserable it can be. If you are dealing with chronic back pain – which is pain that’s lasted more than three months and less than six – it can impact on your daily life, and stop you doing things you want to do. You could be reliant on drugs to keep you mobile or help you sleep.

Back pain, common in desk bound jobs

Home and Alternative Remedies For Back Pain

Sick of popping ibuprofen to ease your painful back? There are many natural remedies to help with pain in the back. Besides, herbs, supplements, and acupuncture, there is good old fashioned exercise.

Back pain frequently strikes when something’s wrong with the delicate column of bones, muscles, ligaments and joints that holds you up. There are also various medical conditions or situations that cause pain in the back, including injury, fatigue, work, a chronic condition, such as, arthritis and kidney infections, just to name a few.

Accidents and sports injuries are the most general causes of chronic back pain. But, sometimes, even plain actions or activities – like bending over to pick up an object from the floor – can activate pain.

There are also a number of other factors that can boost your threat of back pain, such as:
• A sedentary lifestyle
• Poor posture
• Not being fit, and regular exercise which helps to build a strong back
• Blood clots, infections and kidney stones
• Obesity and overweight
• Psychological/emotional stress
• Osteoporosis or bone loss

Natural Remedies to Heal Back Pain:
• Ice first, heat later: As a pain reliever, ice works great. It momentarily blocks pain signals and helps diminish swelling. Several times a day, lay an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes. During the first few days of home treatment, apply the ice pack as frequently as necessary. Later you may still want to use ice after exercise or physical activities. After about 48 hours, switch to moist heat to stimulate blood flow and reduce painful spasms.
• Perfect your posture: Look to maintain a posture that places the least stress on your back. Mum was right when she said stand up straight!
• Healthy Diet: Eating healthy whole foods, eliminating junk food will help your body’s immune system, and to prevent common ailments. Using fish oil supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids will allow the body to better repair itself and fish oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent pain.
• Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water may help reduce the shrinkage that happens in the spongy disks of the back.
• Rise and shine: Each morning before you get out of bed, lie on your back and slowly stretch your arms overhead.
• Rub in some relief: Ask a partner to massage the aching area or visit a professional massage therapist.
• Sip ginger tea: Another natural remedy for back pain is fresh Ginger. Dice a slice into a cup of hot water and enjoy.
• Relax with B-Vitamins: Vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12; these help muscles relax and can decrease neuropathic pain.
• Eat up Omega-3s: The back loves omega-3s because the fatty acids help reduce inflammation and, as a result, back pain.
• Chiropractic Care: Find a chiropractor who not only does manual realignment of the spine but also incorporates exercise, strength training, stress management, nutrition and stretching into treatment programs for back pain.
• Aromatherapy to the rescue: For topical relief, make your own massage oil with a base oil and healing essential oils, such as peppermint, rosemary and lavender.
• Alternative Therapies: Natural therapies can be used instead of or alongside conventional medical care, these include, Biofeedback, acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, exercise, acupressure, and even hypnosis.

Best Exercises For Back Pain

While some may think that movement is not good for pain, it actually is. The back muscles need to be exercised and stretched, to increase mobility, improve flexibility and build strength that can prevent further pain and lessen the risk of injury.

If you have severe pain or an on-going condition it is imperative that you consult your GP before starting an exercise program. Also, when the injury or condition is severe it is a good idea to consult with a professional, such as, a physical therapist or even a personal fitness trainer to understand which exercises will benefit you most and how to do them correctly. The last thing that you want to do is make the condition worse.

While there are many workouts to choose from, those for back pain are very specific, and it is not recommended to do anything too strenuous, but, instead focus on stretching, and low impact varieties of workouts.

• Stretching: The best exercise for back pain are those that stretch the muscles of the back gently. Exercise that provides gentle but consistent resistance will also be helpful.
• Limber up and do stretching exercises: This will not only make the muscles more agile and flexible, this will also help you avoid further injury.
• Work The Core: Exercise that strengthens abdominal and back muscles will help relieve back pain as well.
• Wall Push Ups: Pushing against a wall will lengthen and stretch the calves, the hamstring and the muscles around the hips and waist
• Planking: Planking also helps. This is better than push-ups or curl-ups as it will not put pressure on the neck or the lower back muscles:

  1. Lie on your belly on a mat on the floor.
  2. Rest your forearms on the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body and your fists near your chest.
  3. Lift yourself by your forearms and by your toes.
  4. As you do this exercise consistently, you will increase the strength of your belly and back muscles. You will be able to hold the position for a minute.

• Yoga: Yoga is also a good exercise. For one, the postures of yoga are gentle and almost dance-like. The postures stretch muscles gently. An added bonus is the controlled breathing and the meditation which are both a part of yoga. These help ease tension and stress, thereby relieving much of the source of back pain. The meditation also helps decrease the perception of pain.
• Walking: Walking is a good weight-bearing exercise that will help ease back pain. Walking stretches the leg muscles and strengthens the back muscles. It also strengthens the core muscles because we bear our own body weight when we walk.
• Swimming: Swimming is a good exercise for back pain. The water, especially if it is heated, will relieve muscular pain and help muscles become more flexible. The water also provides resistance, thereby exercising almost all the muscles of the body.
• Stairs: Climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift helps improve the posture just as standing up from a sitting position on a chair. These movements stretch the muscles of the back while keeping the back straight.
• Bicycles: Riding a bicycle is also good exercise to strengthen the back muscles. For one, when we ride a bike, we keep our balance. It is difficult to keep one’s balance and not keep good posture. At the same time, it raises the heart rate and improves blood circulation. You can ride a bike outside, or use an exercise bike, many models are available that easily fit into bedrooms and living rooms.

There are very many activities and exercises that will help ease back pain. However, before a person who is suffering from back pain engages in any of these exercises, it is best for them to consult with a doctor to see if these kinds of exercises are activities they can safely engage in. Chat with your GP about your back pain to rule out a cause that would need to be treated by a medical professional. Be sure to practice proper lifting techniques, follow a healthful lifestyle and incorporate the natural remedies above to promote long-term pain relief.

The vicious pain cycle

If you can no longer exercise because of it, you might end up in a vicious cycle of inactivity which makes your pain worse, which stops you being active. Or you could just increase your medication but that just masks the problem. Also, some strong prescription medications contain painkillers opioids like codeine which can lose their power over time as you build up a tolerance to their effects. They can also have unwanted side effects.

What you need is a way to manage your back pain that is effective but doesn’t have the side effects. Wouldn’t you know it, research has shown that regular massage along with your prescribed medication and any other advice from your GP or Physiotherapist can be so powerful that you might be able to decrease the number of painkillers you need to manage your condition and start to live a more active life.

How massage can help beat back pain

A massage session doesn’t just relax you, it can help to promote tissue repair, improve the blood circulation and does wonders for your stress levels and mood. Recent research showed that regular massage therapy combined with exercise helped people suffering from chronic back pain to feel less anxious about their condition too.  The study, which took place at a pain management clinic in Western New York, involved sixty chronic low back pain patients who were split into two groups. One group received regular massage therapy, twice a week for four weeks, along with their regular treatment, and one group only carried on with their prescribed treatments.

The participants all recorded their own pain levels before and after having massage therapy on a scale of one to ten. There was a significant difference between the pre-and post-treatment pain rating in the group that had regular massage, but the control group who carried on as normal reported no changes to their pain levels.

Massage Therapy, effective natural pain relief

This isn’t the only research that has been carried out. MASSAGE Magazine has brought its readers the latest information about research studies conducted on massage therapy and related subjects.

If you suffer with back pain and want to try something different – book that massage therapy session now.

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Joanne Lee

Joanne, owner of The Full Spectrum Centre Limited has over 18 years experience. She has helped a wide variety of client types in meeting their expectations and achieving their goals, and specialises in holistic health, well-being, relaxation and stress management. Her wealth of training and experience allows her to tailor make our services to accommodate clients’ needs. She works closely with her Therapy Dog Rosie, who helps clients to feel assured, calm, relaxed and comforted during their sessions.

All stories by: Joanne Lee