Lower back pain & massage
Lower back pain can really dampen your spirits and make it hard to enjoy life. So what can we do about it? The problem is often caused by the jobs we do or the daily habits we get into, such as sitting at a computer, driving long distances or lifting heavy things. We may have control over some of this, but to a large extent we just have to get on with it. The good news: massage can really help, with the benefits lasting for anything from a few days to 6 months or more.
In other cases, lower back pain is caused by tension from a recent injury, or by sleeping in a funny position. Or it may be that the bones in the spine or pelvis are out of alignment. Advanced Remedial/Sports Massage can often correct these root causes. After just one or two treatments, the pain may be gone.
Article continued: Pain is often caused by muscle tension or spasm, and massage has the effect of relieving this in a number of ways: It increasing the flow of fresh blood to the area; it physically stretches muscle fibres into a longer, more relaxed state; and it allows the brain and nerves to ‘reset’ their connection with the muscle. When I’m massaging a trouble-spot I often feel a great warmth coming to the tissues as more blood flows to the area. I also feel tight bands or spots of muscle flickering under my pressure, as the brain tries to find a new way to ‘hold’ the muscle. After a few seconds or minutes of work, the flickering dies down and the muscle takes up a new and more comfortable state. Sighhhhhhhhhh
An assessment of the lumbar spine and pelvis often shows up other, more structural, issues that Advanced Remedial/Sports Massage can improve or resolve. It may even be that the problems is in your feet, knees or hips, causing you to walk slightly ‘off’ and leading to lower back pain. I’ll write about these in later posts, but for now, lets think about the pelvis and lower spine.
Not surprisingly, if the spine gets out of alignment, this can cause lower back pain. Two or more of the vertebrae can become stuck in a position that is slightly side-bent and rotated. They may also be slightly flexed forward or backwards, making for a rather complicated and sticky situation. The small muscles on the inside of the bend are likely to be over tight or in spasm, while the muscles on the outside of the bend will be over-stretched. Ouch. The good news is that in minor cases of this, carefully applied deep massage is often enough to straighten the vertebrae out. And if it’s not, there are other gentle techniques that can be used to encourage the spine to return to its neutral position.
Perhaps the pelvis…
Another area that can get out of alignment is the pelvis. This is the bony ring that you can feel when you ‘put your hands on your hips’ (I feel a song coming on). It is held in a stable position by the muscles that attach to it. Your hamstrings (back of the thigh) tilt it backwards, as do your abdominals (tummy), while your hip flexors (front of the thigh) and back muscles tilt it forwards. If any of these muscles are out of balance, the pelvis wont sit in a nice neutral position, which could lead to lower back pain. For that reason, when someone comes to me with lumbar pain, I will, at the very least, work on all of those muscles.
The bony areas that you feel on either side of your ‘hips’ are your ilium bones, and these can get stuck in a slightly rolled-forward, rolled-backward or shunted-up position. There may be pain where the bones join round the back at the very base of your spine, or round the front. You can imagine that if these bones are slightly out of place the muscles running up to your back and down to your legs wont be happy. Advanced Massage techniques can be used to gently ease these bones back into position, which can release the tension and relieve your lower back pain.
So, in summary…
…although lower back pain can really spoil your fun, it is definitely worth investigating these likely causes. It’s very possible that in only a matter of hours or days you could be a whole lot more comfortable, or even saying goodbye to lower back pain for good.