Lower back pain and neck pain can have many potential causes. Pain in these areas can be anything from an occasional ache to a debilitating and constant discomfort that affects a person’s work and home life. These two areas are prone to tension accumulation due to how a person walks, sits, and even sleeps. Acute lower back pain, described as pain that has lasted less than six weeks in duration, may resolve itself with little or no intervention. However, lower back pain that is sub-acute or chronic, lasting longer than six weeks in duration, is likely to require attention and care. There are several forms of massage that are particularly effective for lower back pain. Anyone considering massage for lower back and neck pain should find out more about the different techniques available to them in order to make the most of their massage experience.
Classic (Swedish) massage and Thai massage have been proven to relieve chronic lower back pain. Classic massage for lower back pain is a technique that relaxes muscles in the area through the application of pressure. The area is rubbed in the direction in which blood flows back to the heart. Thai massage, on the other hand, is a technique that pulls and stretches the area of the back and neck. Massage oils may be used during a classic massage to reduce friction during massage, and some massages even employ scented oils so the patient also benefits from aromatherapy during the massage. Scents like lavender can aide in relaxation. Tui Na massage is another effective modality for neck pain in particular. Tui Na utilizes acupoints just as acupuncture does—specific points on the body that relate to the muscle tension as well as other health issues at hand. By kneading, rolling, or rubbing the chosen acupoints on the neck and soldiers, the massage therapist can successfully release muscle tension and provide relaxation for days after the massage.
Massage can improve blood circulation and this is one of the reasons it can aid in the recovery of muscle strain and pains. Massage relaxes the muscles, allowing them to achieve an improved motion range. This relaxation of the muscles can also prevent other ailments related to the back and neck pain, such as insomnia, posture, and range of motion. Massage for lower back pain results in an increase in the levels of endorphins in the body, the chemicals associated with improved mental well-being, and this can also lead to the effectiveness of massage for managing chronic back pain.
A study conducted in 2001 by researchers at the Touch Research Institute based at the University of Miami found massage for lower back pain to be effective in reducing pain. Massage was also found to improve mental well-being by lessening feelings of depression and anxiety and by enhancing sleep. More recently, researchers working for the Cochrane Collaboration analyzed a range of studies to research the effects of massage for lower back pain. All the studies they looked into compared massage for lower back pain with a dummy treatment, a different treatment, or no treatment at all.
The aim of the analysis was to discover the ways in which massage for lower back pain affects an individual regarding well-being, quality of life, mobility, experience of pain and back-specific function. The conclusion of these studies was that a combination of massage and exercises for lower back pain were most effective. This exercise could be moderate physical therapy, working out more often (which also loosens muscles and releases endorphins), or slow and controlled movements such as those used in the practice of qi gong and yoga. The majority of healthcare practitioners recognize massage for lower back and neck pain as beneficial and actively encourage patients with back and neck pain to seek therapy of this kind in addition to conventional medical treatment.