Massage Therapy Is Your Prescription for Back Pain
Jun 01, 2016 11:28AM
by Nancy Tegan, B.S., MAEd, LMT, NCBTMB
Do you have back pain or know someone who does? If so, you’re not alone. According to research, back pain causes more disability than nearly 300 other conditions worldwide, and nearly one in 10 people across the globe suffers from an aching lower back. Another study found that low back pain is responsible for about one third of work-related disabilities.
How does this pain originate? Most often, it begins with continuous stress which can stem from our jobs, financial struggles or relationships. Our muscles become tight and never have a chance to fully rest. This constant stress makes us prone to injury. We become injured, our bodies compensate for these injuries which creates imbalances. We medicate the pain, but still, this cycle continues. Soon, we find ourselves in the downward spiral of pain and medication. This sounds grim, but it doesn’t have to be.
So, what can we do to break the cycle? Regular visits to a massage therapist are highly recommended. Massage will not only help correct the imbalances, but will also reduce muscle tension, heighten concentration, and decrease fatigue, anxiety and depression. You owe it to yourself to live a pain-free life, and massage therapy is known to significantly reduce and eliminate back pain.
Self-care in-between visits are also incredibly important. Your healing process will be both rapid and permanent. Lifestyle changes don’t even have to be drastic. Your massage therapist can help you come up with a game plan. Here are a few self-care techniques:
Place two tennis balls in a sock and tie off the end. Stand with your back to the wall, place the balls on either side of your spine. Slowly move up and down, pressing against the wall and moving the balls up and down your back. This works relieves tension down the entire back.
If you have a desk job, set a timer to stand up and stretch every 15 minutes.
Watch out for information overload. Take breaks from the news, television and other electronic devices. The negativity can create undue stress.
Prioritize your tasks. Not everything needs to be taken care of immediately.
Calm your “monkey mind” and start a daily meditation practice.
Don’t sweat the “small stuff” and simplify your life instead. Learn to say “no” to others and “yes” to a healthier, pain-free version of yourself.
Drink enough water to stay properly hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere to make sure you consume enough throughout the day.
Engage in a regular form of exercise that reduces stress such as swimming, yoga or biking.
Spend quality time with your friends and family members.
Adopt a four-legged “fur baby.” Caring for cats or dogs are is an ideal stress reliever.
Best of all, you can learn to help yourself with this massage routine. I teach my clients self-massage with great results. Try it––all you have to lose is pain!
Self-Massage Routine for the Shoulders, Head and Neck:
Place both hands at the back of your head, near the hairline. Cradle the base of your skull with your fingertips. Use your fingers to massage and rub the small band of muscles at the base of your skull. Start with light pressure then go deeper, moving your fingers in small circles or drawing lines from the spine outward towards the ears.
With one of your hands, grab the back and side of your neck on the same side. Knead your neck with your head relaxed forward and then with your head relaxed backward. Knead, squeeze and rub from the base of your skull down to the junction between your shoulders and neck. Start gently then work deeper to your comfort level. Repeat on the other side.
With your right hand, grab the left trapezius muscle (the large muscle at the corner where your neck joins your shoulder) and squeeze. Knead the muscle from the middle of your shoulder all the way up to the side of your neck. Start with gentle pressure and work deeper as needed. Repeat on the other side.
Place both hands on your shoulders. Place three or four fingertips on the top of the shoulder blades close to the neck. Use your fingers to massage, pull and knead the muscles near the base of your neck and back. Roll your fingers over the top edge of the scapula, pulling and stretching the muscle over the top edge. Repeat throughout day as often as “kneaded.” (pun intended).
If you are interested in learning more about how massage therapy can help create a pain-free life, the East West College of Natural Medicine offers this training as part of the Massage Therapy Program (MM 32746). For more information, call 941-355-9080 or visit our campus at 3808 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Nancy Tegan, B.S., MAEd, LMT, NCBTMB, is Lead Instructor of the Massage Therapy Program.