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Back Pain and Massage

Written by maria_rn, sshowalter.

Massage therapyMassage is among the oldest forms of therapy. It has been used for thousands of years for relieving pain, promoting comfort, healing and improving overall health. The oldest reference about massage appeared in the Nei Ching, a Chinese medical text written before 2500 BC.

Massage is involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body to restore function and relieve tension. This can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, forearm, knees and feet, or with mechanical aids. Some of the target tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue.

Benefits of massage

Massage has shown to benefit those who are suffering from many disorders including some types of low back pain. Massage helps reduce stiffness and swelling, increase blood circulation, relieve pain and muscle spasm. It induces a state of relaxation by improving the muscle action. Massage therapy has been found to improve the range of motion in patients with spinal cord injuries.

How it is done

Although massage promotes relaxation and alleviate pain, it shouldn't replace your regular medical care or as a reason to postpone medical consultation. If you are unsure whether massage therapy would be appropriate for your conditions, do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your own doctor.

Massage should only be done by properly trained therapist. When choosing therapist, it is important to ask about their accreditation and experience. The massage therapist will tell you about what to expect, and will ask you about your medical and massage history, preferences, posture, and health. It's critical the therapist to know whether you have musculoskeletal conditions that are considered as contraindications to massage. Massage is usually not recommended for patients with fractures, ruptured ligament, recent trauma, osteoporosis, and prolapse intervertebral disk with nerve dysfunction.

Massage is performed based on your individual needs. It is therefore important to communicate clearly to help the therapist to come up with a massage treatment that would would suit you best.

Types of massage

Swedish massage. This is a very common type of massage therapy, it can be very gentle and relaxing. Swedish massage refers to a variety of techniques that promote muscle relaxation. It involves the use of long smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.

Swedish massage therapy can help manage a variety of health conditions. Swedish massage is used for easing pain, improving circulation and to help individuals recover from injury. It is also used as a form of therapy for anxiety and depression.

Shiatsu massage. Shiatsu is type of massage therapy in which finger pressure is applied to the meridians, these are areas that are believed to be the lines of energy flow in the body. Having originated in Japan, this system of massage now incorporates both Japanese and traditional Chinese facets and is thought to have both physical and psychological benefits. Shiatsu may help people who are suffering from headaches, insomnia, anxiety and back pain. This massage was developed in Japan in the early 20th century. It is more vigorous than other types of massage. Shiatsu is usually done on a low table or floor mat, the pressure applied on the meridians will help relieve stiffness, aches and pains. It will also promote deep relaxation.

Deep tissue masssage. This form of massage therapy focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It can hep relieve discomfort caused by tense and contracted areas. Deep tissue massage may help relieve symptoms that may occur the following conditions: chronic pain, limited mobility, reepetitive strain injury, postural problems and muscle tension or spasm

When you have chronic muscle tension, there are usually bands of painful and rigid tissue also known as adhesions in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These adhesions can interfere with the circulation and will cause symptoms such as pain, limited mobility, and inflammation. Deep tissue massage therapy works by breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore movement. This is done by directly applying deep pressure or friction across the grain of the muscles.


Braun, M., Simonson, S. Introduction to Massage Therapy. 2007. Second Edition. Lippicott Williams and Wilkins.

Yoga Journal Oct 1982

Encyclopedia of Family Health David B. Jacoby, R. M. Youngson

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