Back pain affects many people from young to old. Repetitive tasks, whether at home or at work, can stress the back muscles and spine over time and cause pain. Acute back pain can last for a month or two and often resolves itself with rest. Chronic back pain can linger for years and requires treatment to find relief. Each type of back pain has been shown to benefit from the application of a massage technique.
For acute back pain a good massage may be all you need to alleviate the muscle tension that creates the discomfort. The ability of massage to improve blood circulation helps to relieve tension in the back muscles. Massage therapy can also be used in tandem with medical treatment and medication for severe chronic back pain. Here we’ll discuss what types of massages can help with pain relief, how to give yourself a back massage and what devices can function as an aid in home massage therapy.
Lower Back Pain
Sudden, or acute lower back pain is often caused by tearing the muscles of the back at a microscopic level. Improper back posture while lifting something heavy, twisting your body suddenly, sitting for long periods of time or falling down can all be causes of acute lower back pain. Doing tasks that stress the muscles of the back for lengthy periods of time can cause chronic pain as we get older. Massage can help relieve some of the pain involved in both acute and chronic back problems.
So what is the best type of massage for lower back pain? Many different styles of massage therapy are known to be beneficial. The classic massage technique, also known as Swedish massage, is effective at alleviating pain. This traditional technique relaxes the muscles in the lower back through applying pressure to the problem area.
Another technique that is known to be effective is Thai massage therapy. This type of massage stretches and pulls the muscles of the back to relieve pain.
Upper and Middle Back Pain
Upper and middle back pain are often used interchangeably and describe the area from mid-back to just below the neckline. Pain is primarily caused by consistent bad posture or medical conditions which put pressure on the spinal column.
Many of the same massage techniques that are effective on the lower back can also be used on the upper and middle back. Deep tissue massage is a style that uses many of the same hand motions that Swedish massage uses. But with deep tissue massage a more intense amount of pressure is used in tandem with slower hand movements. This helps reach the deeper layers of muscle for a more thorough massage effective at relieving spots of rigidity deep in the muscle.
Self Massage Therapy
You may not always have the time or money to get frequent professional massages or have someone willing and available to give you a massage. When you’re by yourself and need a massage for your back pain it can be helpful to know how to give yourself a back massage.
For your lower back a helpful way to ease lower back pain by yourself is to lay down on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Place a tennis ball under your lower back to the side of your spine. Roll the ball side-to-side and up and down slowly to simulate the hand movements of a traditional massage.
This same technique using a tennis ball can be repeated for the middle and upper portions of the back. With the upper back, you also have the option of using the tennis ball behind your back while standing up against a wall.
Helpful Massage Devices
There are a number of different types of massage devices on the market today. Two of the most popular among these are the handheld back massager and the massage chair. Which you choose depends heavily on your personal circumstances. If you don’t have a lot of room where you live, you may prefer the hand massager. If you have chronic back troubles and can afford the cost, a massage chair may be what you’re looking for.
The Handheld Massager
The two different types of handheld massagers are the manual electric varieties. Manual massagers are made of plastic or wood and are typically in the shape of the letter “S.” The more expensive option is the electric massager. These work through vibration which stimulates blood flow and relaxes the tension in your back muscles. Many electric massagers have adjustable settings that reduce or increase the intensity of the vibration.
The Massage Chair
Massage chairs range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The less expensive chairs feature simple mechanisms inside that create vibration. The more costly options often contain complex machinery which can emulate the movements of a real hand massage.
When shopping, it’s important to keep in mind that the standard massage chair is designed for people with an average height of about five foot ten inches. People much taller or shorter than this may want to test an assortment of chairs in person before making a purchase. For a person that isn’t of average height, the rollers meant to massage the back may make contact too high or too low. Check to see if the chair offers has manual or automatic adjustments before buying.
Massage has a proven record of being able to reduce back pain. You may prefer the personal hands-on approach of a masseuse, or the privacy and convenience of having a handheld massager or chair at home. Both methods are effective at easing the discomfort that comes with a back injury. But always remember to consult a doctor if your back pain persists or you’ve suffered a recent debilitating injury that may have resulted in problems that a massage can’t fix alone.
Aside from it’s use in reducing back pain, massage is a fantastic general remedy for a variety of stress-related maladies. It has become increasingly more popular in the last few decades as our lives have become more fast-paced and stress levels have risen. Massage continues to be an important source of relief now and in the foreseeable future.