Massage therapy can help manage chronic back pain

07 October 2010 | Kollig
We’ve all suffered the soreness as soc iated wi th an over l y exuberant exercise session. Did you know that most people experience pain from another less strenuous activity? Surprisingly, it’s sitting. Chronic back pain, which is the second most common cause of disability and a top reason for missing work, can be the result of improper posture while sitting and standing.

Back pain also can be caused by being overweight or inactive. More and more people are gaining weight at an alarming level and a lot of back pain comes from people being overweight. Carrying extra weight, poor posture, and repetitive or overused movements all can put strain on the low back, as can sleeping on a bad mattress or using a workstation that isn’t set up ergonomically.

The pain you feel is caused by localized ischemic muscle tissue. That basically means that the muscle is in spasm and isn’t getting enough blood flow, which decreases flexibility and mobility. The combination of extra weight and weak abdominals causes the pelvis to tilt forward, which is what often leads to low back pain.

Other muscle imbalances that can play a role in back pain include weak gluteus maximus muscles as well as tight hip flexors, hamstrings and low back muscles. You really have to do exercises and stretches to work on these muscles, but be careful that doing the right exercises is essential. Something like straight-leg sit-ups can actually aggravate your pain. What happens next is known as the pain-spasm-pain cycle.

Those muscles trigger the brain to send them into spasm and lock them down to – theoretically – stop the pain. The spasm causes more pain, which convinces the brain to send the muscles into spasm. You’re also going to feel tightening and pain in your upper back, your hips, your glutes and your hamstrings. Your brain is trying to make all those muscles and joints not move.

Therapeutic massage gets to the root of the pain by relaxing those tight muscles, and addressing trigger points to put a stop to the pain cycle. Therapeutic massage also increases blood flow to the affected muscles, which brings in healing oxygen and nutrients, and helps remove the waste products of cellular metabolism.

All of this activity reduces swelling and stiffness and increases flexibility to help eliminate pain. Massage therapy also releases endorphins and boosts your levels of serotonin and dopamine – all hormones your body produces to help you feel good, promote healing and pain management, and calm the nerves sending those cyclical pain signals.

Looking for a few tips and tricks for relieving your back pain in between massages? Try these: Cold comfort. To stop the pain cycle we advise using crushed ice in a bag for up to 30 minutes.

Ice breaks that pain-spasm-pain cycle by overriding the pain with a message of ‘cold,’ and reducing nerve irritability and swelling. On the ball. Tackling your own trigger points with a tennis ball can help you manage pain between your massage appointments.

Lie on the floor with a tennis ball under your back until you hit that tender spot. You’ll feel a sharp pain at first, but it will dissipate as the tension is released. Get moving. It really is a ‘use it or lose it’ proposition.

If you let your muscles get stiff, that can last forever. Simple stretching and strengthening exercises can keep your muscles and joints flexible. Sleep on it: One of the best things massage therapy can do is give a person a good night’s sleep.

You need to be able to relax and get your mind off the pain and get some rest so your body can heal. For fur ther informat ion regarding TMAN or Therapeutic Massage please contact Anka on 081 256 3663, Birgit on 081 429 3991 or Kerstin on 081 239 0180.

Soortgelyk

 

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