Once considered a simple luxury enjoyed at health clubs, spas, and/or high-end hotels, the therapeutic benefits of massage have become better understood and utilized over the past decades. Massage is now thought of as mainstream therapy and is even prescribed by medical professionals to treat a number of conditions.
Since all the nerves in the body run through the spine, the back is one area that is commonly massaged. The benefits of massage for back pain are numerous and widespread.
Outside Health Benefits
Back muscles can often retain tension from repetitive use, excessive stress, and/or lack of use. When a well-trained masseuse works those muscles through massage, it can relieve a great deal of tension.
Reducing tension in the back and neck can have several additional benefits. These include improved sleeping, reduction of migraine frequency and/or intensity, and improved flexibility.
Beyond the benefits of reducing tension, massage has been proven to provide several other health benefits as well. Among other things, massage can stimulate the production of the feel good chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
This hormone production adds to the pain reducing effects of massage. This in turn can help with the mental strain that constant pain can put on a person. Symptoms such as depression and anxiety are often relieved with massage therapy.
Furthermore, massage has been shown to help weak, atrophied, or tight muscles and tissues to heal. This improvement leads to a greater range of motion and thus, an easier time exercising the painful muscles and tendons.
This healing effect is enhanced by the increased blood flow and stimulated circulation of the area. Oxygen and nutrients are brought to the major organs and muscles to boost healing by bringing the nutrition major organs and muscles need to thrive.
Again, another factor that reduces pain.
Several pain causing back problems can benefit from the use of massage therapy. These include:
This is the culprit in the majority of instances of acute back pain. Whether it is in the upper back and neck or the lower back. Muscle strain is often caused by a fall, sudden movements, and/or improperly lifting or carrying a heavy object.
Even when the pain is intense and/or has lasted for an extended period of time, massage can help.
The area around muscles becomes inflamed when they are torn or strained. This inflammation can then lead to the muscles in the back spasming which can make moving hard and drive up the level of pain in one’s back.
Massage is useful to help work the spasm or irritation out and thus, improve the range of motion in those areas. Even when the pain is caused by serious injuries sustained in an auto accident or other such trauma, massage has been shown to help relieve the pain.
The breaking down of the cartilage in the back section of the spine, between the facet joints is known as spinal arthritis. When this occurs, the joints become inflamed which leads to pain. Further, progressive degeneration of the joints caused the bones to rub against one another and create what is known as ‘frictional pain.’
Through reduction of muscle tension and improving of circulation, massage therapy can help to reduce the pain caused by osteoarthritis. There are even massage therapists who specialize in massage for spinal arthritis.
Although fibromyalgia is unique to each individual who has it, it is generally associated with some level of pain. Other common symptoms that can be relieved through massage include non-restorative sleep, fatigue, and stiffness.
The pain felt by those who suffer from fibromyalgia is often found in specific points as well as widespread. Massage therapy is helpful in targeting both the widely distributed pain of fibro as well as the tender points.
Wrapping It Up
While massage is considered to be essentially safe, you should always check with your doctor before starting any new treatment. Massage therapy is not always the best idea for certain conditions. These include but are not limited to those with osteoporosis; recent surgeries; varicose veins; and infections skin diseases, unhealed wounds, or a rash.