An active lifestyle is an important element of well-being. Whether exercising as a means for better health, fun with friends, or elite competitions, bodies reap the benefits of movement. Unfortunately, physical exertion increases risk of injuries that can set you on the sidelines. To help prevent injuries, or to speed up recovery times, massage therapy plays a vital role on the road to recovery
Because training for any sport requires repetitive movements, muscles and joints involved in those repetitions are at risk for injury. Common athletic injuries include knee pain, inflammation, hamstring strains, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains, headaches, muscle fatigue and soreness, shoulder pain, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, wrist strain, neck and shoulder strain, muscle cramping, sciatica, lower back pain, quadriceps strain, and stress fractures. Wow! That is huge list. Of course, not all injuries listed are relevant to every sport. What is a common thread, though, is that repetitive use can create extremely tense muscles; and, muscles under chronic stress are at greater risk for injury. Most athletes don’t have time in training schedules for injury recovery. Massage therapy is a fantastic tool for preventing injuries before they occur, and speeding recovery times when they do.
Prior to exercise, sports massage can help prevent injury by warming & stretching muscle tissue; post-exercise, sports massage can help the body rid itself of lactic acid and improve range of motion. Remedial massage is one type of massage that can help improve mobility and decrease pain. The manipulation of scar tissue can break apart collagen adhesions that prevent the body from functioning at its best. Remedial massage may incorporate active/passive stretching, and joint mobilization to help aid recovery through increased blood and lymph circulation. Similarly, myofascial release is effective in injury recovery. This unique modality may be described as a gentle, unwinding of the body’s fascia: connective tissue that surrounds, and binds together, the muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and organs and extends throughout the entire body. Myofascial release uses long, stretching movements to unbind the tissue adhesions. By lengthening this connective tissue, a greater range of motion may be generated. While physical pain relief is a component, emotional releases are also common. This gentle, effective modality is especially beneficial for injury recovery. Other common sports massage results include decreased pain, increased energy, and improved recovery time. By reducing muscle tension and increasing range of motion, greater circulation brings muscle and ligament cells fresh nutrients and oxygen, and reduces cellular toxins: aiding in faster recovery. Additionally, increasing flexibility and reducing of trigger points is an benefit on and off of the playing field. The release of endorphins helps decrease pain, as well as increase the body’s “feel good” hormone, serotonin.
Physiotherapy is also extremely beneficial in conjunction with massage therapy. Addressing the care of your musculoskeletal system, physiotherapy focuses on assessing and improving body function and movement for optimum performance. Utilizing stretching, strengthening, and rehabilitative exercises, this therapy is effective in improving recovery time. Additionally, chiropractic care is beneficial for correcting misalignments in the skeletal structure. As proper alignment is restored, muscular tension is reduced and recovery times can improve.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, sports injuries are bound to occur. However, massage therapy can help get you on the playing field faster by boosting recovery time.
Writing or eating with your opposite hand can be a fun game testing muscle control and agility. However, when forced to do so because of pain, it is no longer a game. Whether occurring from overuse or injury, shoulder pain can easily interrupt daily activities- or even career demands- due to limited range of motion or severe pain. Often, shoulder pain creates additional stress by incorporating neck pain and headaches. Fortunately, massage therapy is an efficient means for reducing this pain.
Generally shoulder pain encompasses more muscles than strictly those in the shoulder. The trapezius, levator scapulae, rhomboids, serratus anterior, pectorals, latissimus doris, biceps, triceps, deltoids, and the rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) are all necessary for proper shoulder functioning. When these muscles are under chronic tension, their functionality is compromised, often resulting in pain and limited range of motion. Spent the day painting the walls and now shoulder movement is painful? Chances are the trapezius muscle is contracted. Been carrying a heavy bag and now you notice headaches in addition to shoulder pain? Levator scapulae needs some work. Because shoulder injuries are common, scar tissue, especially within the shoulder joint, can aid to limiting range of motion.
Fortunately, massage therapy can help add pliability to scar tissue adhesions thereby allowing greater functionality. By reducing muscle adhesions, trigger points, and increasing range of motion, greater circulation enhances the body’s ability to better nourish its cells. In addition to general Swedish massage techniques, stretching and joint mobilizations are effective in improving circulation. Alleviating tension in the levator scapulae can effect the shoulder’s range of motion, and also reduce headaches. Releasing the pectoral muscles, can allow the rhomboids to relax and let the shoulder return to proper posture. The shoulder is also extremely responsive to myofascial release. Myofascial release uses long, stretching movements to unbind the tissue adhesions. By lengthening this connective tissue, a greater range of motion may be generated. While physical pain relief is a component, emotional releases are also common. This gentle, effective modality is especially beneficial for injury recovery. The release of endorphins helped decrease pain and well as increase the body’s “feel good” hormone, serotonin.
Since shoulder pain can certainly affect the neck as well, the muscle tensions may be strong enough to misalign cervical and thoracic vertebrae. Chiropractic care is effective in readjusting the skeletal system. In doing so, the muscular tension holding the bone out of alignment is no longer necessary, and the muscle is able to relax. Often, without structural adjustments, the muscle is unable to fully relax. Physiotherapy is beneficial in adding an element of stretching and rehabilitation to the injured joint.
The use of efficiently utilizing both arms painlessly is often taken for granted. Opening jars, lifting groceries, or even children can cause extreme pain for many. Incorporating massage therapy, and other alternative modalities, as a means for preventative care help reduce shoulder injuries, and speed up recovery when they do occur.
Ahh, the miracle of birth. No doubt, after nine months, finally holding your precious little one is nothing short of amazing. However, that nine month road to delivery can be grueling and more than uncomfortable for many women. The physical, not to mention emotional, changes a women’s body experiences as it, essentially, transforms is overwhelming. Of course, in trying to protect the budding bundle of joy, most pharmaceuticals aren’t safe. How, then do they alleviate heartburn, back pain, round ligament pain, headaches, sciatica, edema, tension, and anxiety (to name a few)? Many are turning to massage therapy for much needed relief. It is important to note, all massage therapists are not trained in pregnancy massage. Before receiving massage while expecting, make sure your therapist has specialized training in this modality.
Specialized for women twelve weeks through term, pregnancy massage can increase relaxation, ease discomfort, and nurture the mother-to-be. While the numerous changes rapidly occurring during pregnancy are miraculous, they can also be uncomfortable. Massaging the intercostal muscles (between each rib) can help expand the rib cage allowing for deeper breathing. Not only is a fuller breath a great reward, but this also enables the diaphragm to expand and decreases heartburn. Relaxing the gluteal muscles and piraformis can take pressure off the sciatic nerve, thereby reducing sciatic pain. Utilizing Swedish massage techniques and gentle stretching, massage therapy can also add movement to the sacroiliac joint, thus giving the hips greater freedom of movement. Focus is also placed on the scalene and upper trapezius muscles to increase blood and oxygen circulation to the neck and brain, reducing headaches. Likewise, increasing circulation can also decrease edema, alleviating tired legs and feet. Muscular tension during pregnancy can often be attributed to stress, anxiety, and poor sleep quality. By stimulating the parasympathetic system, stress and anxiety are decreased and sleep quality is improved. During a massage session, endorphins (such as serotonin) are released to increase feelings of well-being and lesson anxiety. Likewise, the body’s natural pain killers are released; a reduction in pain leads to a greater sense of relaxation. Pregnancy massage is unique because the symptoms presented can vary dramatically session to session. A general sense of relaxation between sessions is extremely beneficial in adapting to continual transitions. Most pregnancy pain symptoms are not chronic issues, but rather responses to transient hormone and physical changes. In addition, post delivery, massage can help rebalance hormone fluctuations and improve sleep quality. Increased energy and anxiety reduction are also wonderful “side effects” of post-natal massage.
Due to the dramatic changes occurring as the body adapts to accommodate the growing baby, misalignment of the spine or joints are common. Lordosis in the lower back becomes exaggerated, postural changes fluctuate in response to shifts in center of gravity, and the pelvic girdle adapts in preparation of delivery. If the pelvis is misaligned, delivery may be more difficult. Chiropractic care can help with realignment and may help reduce the risk of cesarean delivery. Additionally, chiropractic care can reduce back, neck, and joint pain.
For the expecting woman, massage therapy, and other alternative therapy, is beneficial for herself and for the growing baby too. Improved circulation not only nourishes the woman’s cellular system, but aids in the baby’s growth and development While finding a qualified massage therapist is always important, it is essential for pregnancy massage. These sessions are an excellent opportunity for relaxation, nurturing, energizing, and alleviating pain for the transforming body.
Parents often tell their kids to “sit up straight,” or to “stop slouching.” While this advice is generally as effective as claiming that their “face will stick like that one day,” there is wisdom behind the words. Poor posture truly does have negative effects that may one day “stick.”
In perfect posture, the body is amazingly balanced. Its design is a simple (yet almost impossible to replicate), tensegrity structure: bones stacked, muscles supporting the skeletal system. Ideally, the ears align directly over the shoulders, which are over the hips, lower back is slightly curved, knees are straight, and toes point forward. Feel awkward? Millions agree. As daily routines become more comfortable, we forget the feeling of the body’s natural design. Most of us rarely spend our day sitting or standing with proper posture. Instead, we’re hunched over computers, video games, or texting; all of which place tremendous strain on the lower back. Likewise, increased pressure is placed on the neck and shoulders as the body is concaved. Standing posture is often worse: weight leaned into either hip, knees bent, and toes turned to the sides.
Why is misalignment a problem? Adding undue stress to muscles creates not only muscle tension and fatigue, but decreases adequate circulation. When oxygen and nutrients cannot flow freely through the body, a series of symptoms can arise. Rarely does someone seek treatment claiming poor posture; instead, they feel the result of it: sore shoulders, neck, or back, decreased immunity, low energy, headaches, decreased range of motion, even digestive ailments. Interestingly, emotions can play a role in posture too. Fortunately, massage therapy can affect each of these attributes.
Using general Swedish massage techniques (often deep tissue, myofascial release, and trigger point release also) muscle tension is alleviated. Releasing over-stressed flexion muscles (pectorals, anterior deltoids, and psoas) can help reduce strain on the trapezius, rhomboids, erector spinae muscles, even the hip flexors, and hamstrings. The manipulation of muscle tissue also increases circulation, allowing greater flow of blood, lymph, oxygen, and nutrients to and from the body’s cells. Deeper work can loosen muscle adhesions and add pliability to scar tissue. By reducing the collagen adhesions, greater range of motion is accessible. Manipulation of muscle tissue also affects the endocrine system, the body’s hormones. As natural pain relievers, endorphins, and serotonin are released through relaxation, a greater sense of well-being occurs. Massage therapy also brings a greater body awareness, reintroducing the sense of the body’s ‘natural’ structure alignment.
Aside from the symptoms above, poor posture can also affect the skeletal system. Chronic misalignment can eventually pull bones out of their natural alignment. Also, a body in misalignment is at higher risk for injury. Incorporating chiropractic care can help alleviate pain and discomfort created by poor posture. Working in conjunction with massage therapy, reducing muscle tension allows greater results for chiropractic adjustments. Though this may sound like a simple task, it may warrant time to break the muscle contraction cycle in chronic cases. Once the skeletal system is realigned, pressure is decreased on the muscles as well; it takes tremendous stress to hold a bone out of its natural positioning.
While it’s extremely difficult to always maintain proper posture, awareness is essential. Understanding that muscle pain and fatigue may be related to sitting or standing patterns can help prevent chronic tension and misalignment. Massage therapy is a beneficial tool for regaining awareness and decreasing the structural stress placed on
the body. So, when you’re told to “sit up straight,” parents are fundamentally correct!
Whether occurring from whiplash, injury, tension, or sleeping “wrong,” neck problems can be a real pain. Rarely does neck pain affect only the cervical area; headaches and shoulder pain often makes the discomfort a triple whammy. Though many people figure neck pain and headaches are just part of life and choose to ingest more aspirin, many others are looking to alternative methods that are free of negative side effects. Massage therapy is a effective means to alleviating neck pain.
Aside from physical pain, those experiencing neck problems often indicate decreased range of motion (flexion/extension or rotation), poor sleep quality, headaches, and even depression. Especially in the case of injury or surgery, scar tissue (collagen adhesions) may attribute to lack of mobility. Muscles commonly involved in neck pain include the scalene muscles, sternocleidomastoideus (SCM), erector spinae, upper trapezius, levator scapula, and suboccipitals. Muscles on the front and back of the neck work in opposition to help hold the neck in its proper postural position (ears over the shoulders). However, poor posture, cradling a phone between the ear & shoulder, and chronic stress can create muscle tension, misalignment and pain. Not uncommon, the pain is often felt on the opposite side of the tight muscle. When cradling a phone, for example, the opposite side from the phone is generally where the pain is felt. In chronic tension, circulation is decreased: blood, oxygen, lymph, and nutrients aren’t effectively reaching their target cells. This impaired circulation is extremely apparent in neck tension, as it is the brain on the receiving end of poor circulation. Frequently, this results in headaches. Thankfully, massage therapy is an effective means for reducing headaches and neck pain.
Alleviating tension in the suboccipitals can open pathways for greater circulation. Releasing this area (base of the skull) is also effective for reducing headaches. General Swedish massage techniques and trigger point therapy are helpful in decreasing adhesions in the SCM and scalene muscles. Relaxing these muscles allows greater range of motion in neck rotation. Likewise, decreasing muscular tension in the erector spinae, upper trapezius, and levator scapula allow the muscles to restore the neck to proper posture and reduce pain. Rehabilitation massage may focus on strengthening and stretching neck muscles, especially after whiplash or injury. All forms of massage increase blood and lymph circulation which aids in muscle recovery. Aside from pain relief, additional benefits of massage therapy include increased energy, and better quality of sleep. By reducing muscle tension and increasing range of motion, greater circulation enhances the body’s ability to better nourish its cells. The release of endorphins helps decrease pain as well as increase the body’s “feel good” hormone, serotonin- thus aiding in a greater sense of well-being.
With severe, or chronic, neck pain the addition of other complementary therapies is beneficial. Misalignments, or compressions, within the cervical vertebrae can lead to neck pain. Reducing muscle tension can allow longer lasting chiropractic adjustments. In cases of limited range of motion, physiotherapy is a beneficial addition for stretching and strengthening weak or tight muscles. The combination of massage therapy, chiropractic care, and physiotherapy is like a therapeutic trifecta. Each modality builds on the other to increase longer lasting results.
Although reaching for a bottle of aspirin may be habit when trying to alleviate headache pain, a massage can be more effective. Proper cervical alignment is important in decreasing pain, and reducing muscle tension and adhesions is imperative for proper posture. Creating greater body awareness through massage therapy, and other complementary modalities, helps distinguish patterns that lead to misalignment.
We’ve all been sidelined by a headache: the continual, dull ache often derived from tension or stress. But, for many who suffer from migraines, the pain can be debilitating, According to Headache UAE, approximately 2 million citizens suffer from migraine headaches. Interestingly, the percentage of women affected by migraines is almost triple that of men. In the world of headaches, migraines are a class all their own.
Often described as “pounding” or “throbbing,” migraine headaches occur from constriction of blood vessels, in and outside of the brain, sending pain signals to the brain. These headaches are generally focused to only one side of the head and may cause vision sensitivity, facial numbness, nausea, and/or vomiting. Common triggers for migraines include food, stress, temperature changes, certain scents, fatigue or hormonal fluctuations. Because pharmaceutical pain relievers can have serious side effects, many choose alternative methods, such as massage therapy, for pain relief.
Focusing on the trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapula, and suboccipital muscles, the massage therapist helps decrease muscle tension and spasms while increasing blood flow. Reducing muscle tension promotes vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels) to allow greater circulation. This increase in circulation helps bring oxygenated blood to muscle and brain cells, and elicits the release of endorphins (body‘s natural pain killers), thereby reducing stress. Likewise, the release of serotonin helps create a greater sense of well-being. Attention to the jaw and facial muscles may also lessen migraine headaches derived from TMJ or sinus pain. General Swedish massage techniques, myofascial release, acupressure, and trigger point therapy are effective methods for decreasing muscular pressure on nerves and blood vessels.
Receiving a massage during a migraine attack may utilize different techniques and a shorter session. The massage therapist’s focus is primarily toward relaxation, enhancing the parasympathetic system, instead of deeper muscular work. Often, these massages will incorporate cryogenic (cold) therapy to increase pain relief. Consideration of light, music volume, and aromas is particularly important for sessions occurring during a migraine episode.
Reducing the sympathetic response, and increasing parasympathetic response, is important for migraine sufferers since fatigue and stress are two common triggers. The parasympathetic state can improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety, decrease stress, alleviate pain, and create a general sense of well-being. Additionally, the effects of massage therapy are cumulative, the benefits build, creating longer lasting results, with continued sessions.
Passive stretching is also beneficial for those suffering from migraine headaches. Combining massage therapy with physiotherapy can double effectiveness for increasing range of motion in the neck and shoulders, thereby reducing the number and intensity of headaches. Likewise, incorporating the element of chiropractic care can help improve structural alignment especially in cases of whiplash or injury. Working together, massage therapy loosens surrounding muscles and can help hold chiropractic cervical adjustments longer.
There is no denying that migraine pain can be painful and debilitating. Massage therapy is not a means for replacing traditional medicine, but an addition to it. Incorporating massage therapy, and other complementary and alternative medicine modalities, into a well-being plan is quite beneficial. Aside from reducing negative side affects with pharmaceutical drugs, massage therapy has positive effects for the entire body.
Some days you can feel it coming on- the dull ache turning into a pounding headache. Even those lasting a few hours can feel debilitating, worse are the headaches lasting days or chronically recurring. Though headaches generally fall into two categories, tension and vascularized, there are subcategories within the two with varying symptoms. For pain relief, many people automatically reach for aspirin, in fact, 15% of citizens take painkillers for headache at any given time.1 Others, however, are finding positive results with massage therapy and complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for lasting relief.
Tension headaches are the most prevalent type of headache and there are two subcategories of tension headaches: Episodic and Chronic. Episodic are the common headaches most people experience. These headaches are generally characterized by a dull, continual pain, often accompanied by a sore neck. They are often described as “vice-like,” where muscular contractions are felt in the neck, back of the head, temples, and/or forehead. Often, these headaches stem from physical or emotional stress. Additionally, eye strain, poor posture, or cervical misalignment may initiate episodic headaches. Experiencing this type of headache close to daily, or for an extended length of time, is considered chronic. This pain may feel constant and relentless. While stress may be an underlying result, these headaches often stem from an exacerbated physical or psychological issue including depression, anxiety, and fatigue. A doctor’s visit may be necessary to rule out prescription reactions or a medical condition.
Slightly different in nature are vascularized headaches: Migraines and Clusters. Often described as “pounding” or “throbbing,” migraine headaches occur from constriction of blood vessels in and outside of the brain sending pain signals to the brain. These headaches are generally focused to only one side of the head and may cause vision sensitivity and nausea. Women far outnumber men as migraine sufferers. Common triggers for migraines are food, stress, temperature, certain scents, fatigue or hormonal fluctuations. Cluster headaches, on the other hand, affect men in greater numbers and the intense pain is generally localized to one eye. Cluster headaches often occur seasonally which may link them to allergies, though they’re also triggered by alcohol & cigarettes.
How, then, can massage therapy help alleviate tension and vascular headaches? Focusing on the trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapula, and suboccipital muscles, the massage therapist helps decrease muscle tension and spasms while increasing blood flow. Attention to the jaw and facial muscles may also lessen headaches derived from TMJ or sinus pain. Reducing muscle tension promotes vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels) to allow greater circulation. This increase in circulation helps bring oxygenated blood to muscle and brain cells, elicits the release of endorphins (body‘s natural pain killers), and reduces stress. General Swedish massage techniques, myofascial release, acupressure, and trigger point therapy are effective methods for decreasing muscular pressure on nerves and blood vessels. Passive stretching is also beneficial for those suffering from chronic headaches. Combining massage therapy with physiotherapy can double effectiveness for increasing range of motion in the neck and shoulders, thereby reducing the number and intensity of headaches. Likewise, incorporating the element of chiropractic care can help improve structural alignment especially in cases of whiplash or injury. Working together, massage therapy loosens surrounding muscles and can help hold chiropractic cervical adjustments longer.
There’s no question, headaches are a pain. Suffering through them, however, is unnecessary. Continually turning to pharmaceutical drugs for headache relief may lead to unwanted side effects; massage therapy’s side effects include relaxation, stress reduction, and alleviation of pain. Incorporating massage therapy and other complementary and alternative medicines into your well-being regime can help alleviate pain, and reduce chronic headaches. Decreasing tension and stress is not simply beneficial for your body, but your head too!
Most people wouldn’t dream of driving their car without ever changing the oil; a car is a major investment, and ignoring warning signs could lead to expensive repairs, right? Ironically, many overlook important warning signs from their own body. A driver may be so attuned to their car to notice a slight pull to one side; yet the same individual doesn’t recognize a slight pull on their lower back that’s unbalancing their body’s structure. There’s an assumption that as we age, our bodies should feel more aches and pains. Any car aficionado will tell you that proper maintenance will keep a car running for decades, why should our bodies be any different? Massage therapy is a viable option for body maintenance.
A therapeutic massage could, in essence, be compared to a twenty-one point oil change: regular maintenance for better handling daily excursions. In today’s society, stress is abundant. There are demands at home, at work, and even “smart” technology that gives others twenty-four hour access to our personal time. Though it has a negative connotation, stress is necessary- chronic stress is not. We need the sympathetic system to kick our bodies into action when needed: avoiding an accident, athletic competitions, and for adrenaline based activities. While the parasympathetic state does seem like a form of paradise, we wouldn’t want to be an ambulance passenger with a driver stalled in parasympathetic response. Finding a balance between the two systems is essential for our body’s well-being. How do the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems affect the body, and, what role does massage therapy play in their balance? Glad you asked.
The sympathetic system is also known as the “fight or flight” response. In this state heart rate increases, pupils dilate, sweating increases, saliva production decreases, and digestion decreases. What does this mean? Essentially, the blood is circulated away from core organs, muscles tighten, and digestion slows. Not only can this state leave you feeling fatigued and with sore muscles, but it can put tremendous pressure on the heart. Remaining in this state can lead to chronic stress conditions such as headaches, backaches, neck pain, eyestrain, poor concentration, anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, physical and emotional exhaustion. Essentially, a “check-engine soon” warning.
On the contrary, the parasympathetic system elicits the opposite body responses: slower heart rate, improved digestion, increased circulation, reduced muscle tension, boosted immune system, and improved mental clarity. While living in a constant parasympathetic state is unrealistic, massage therapy can help the sympathetic system take a much needed rest.
Relaxation, or Swedish, massage is a good introduction to the world of massage therapy. Using oil or cream, the massage therapist will manipulate tissue through a combination of kneading, effleurage, friction, tapotement, and vibration. All of these techniques are aimed at improving circulation, range of motion, and promoting relaxation. Improved circulation helps bring necessary nutrients to, and toxins away, from muscle cells, additionally, the body’s natural painkillers are released. Common responses and benefits of therapeutic massage are decreased fatigue, reduced pain, increased immunity, reduced stress, alleviation of headaches/migraines, improved digestion, greater range of motion, improved posture, reduced anxiety, increased energy, better quality of sleep, and an increased sense of well-being. Often, those under chronic stress have decreased body awareness, and are unconscious of tension patterns. Aside from reducing pain and muscle tension, massage therapy helps bring awareness and focus to the body so that individuals are better able to self-correct unneeded stress.
While we do need stress in our lives, chronic stress, without the body’s opportunity to rest, can be detrimental to health. When was the last time you scheduled your body maintenance appointment? Take time to rejuvenate and relax, get a massage. Your body truly needs it!
Lower Back Pain
If back pain is causing you grief, you’re not alone. According to the May, 2009 Medical Journal of UAE, 80% of citizens will experience back pain during their lifetime. However, this isn’t a life-sentence of pain. While the medical community is phenomenal for ruling out serious back injury or for diagnosing conditions, massage therapy is a complementary asset for pain management. Massage is also a beneficial tool for maintaining and improving body functioning. Today, doctors rarely suggest eliminating movement for back recovery, it is essentially this movement and increase in circulation that can boost many recovery times.
Aside from physical pain, those experiencing back problems often indicate decreased range of motion (twisting or bending), poor sleep quality, sciatica, and even depression. Likewise, significant scar tissue (collagen adhesions), especially if pain is due to injury, may attribute to lack of mobility. Muscles commonly involved in back pain include the erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, psoas, gluteal muscles, piraformis, iliotibial band, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Though it seems unusual, the rectus abdominus can also play a role. Weak abdominal muscles create over-compensation in the back muscles, strengthening core muscles can help alleviate pain. The erector spinae and gluteal muscles help hold the spine upright. The psoas, hamstrings, and iliotibial band help the back and hips flex and extend. Spinal rotation is performed with the help of quadratus lumborurm. Muscle tension and/or adhesions in these muscles can lead to limited range of motion and (often significant) pain.
Massage therapy is an effective tool for managing muscular stress. Alleviating tension in the gluteal muscles and piraformis can reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve- reducing sciatica pain. Likewise, creating more movement in the sacroiliac joint can improve movement and reduce pain. Deep tissue and scar tissue massage can help break apart collagen adhesions that prevent the body from functioning at its best. Myofascial release can also reduce adhesions, allowing greater freedom of movement throughout the body’s fascia. Rehabilitation massage may focus on strengthening and stretching muscles, including the hamstrings, to create greater flexibility through the hips and pelvic girdle. All forms of massage increase blood and lymph circulation which aids in muscle recovery. Aside from pain relief, additional benefits of massage therapy include increased energy, and better quality of sleep. By reducing muscle tension and increasing range of motion, greater circulation enhances the body’s ability to better nourish its cells. The release of endorphins helps decrease pain as well as increase the body’s “feel good” hormone, serotonin- thus aiding in a greater sense of well-being.
With severe, or chronic, back pain the addition of other complementary therapies is beneficial. Misalignments, or compressions, within the spinal column can also lead to back pain. Reducing muscle tension can allow longer lasting chiropractic adjustments. In cases of limited range of motion, physiotherapy is a beneficial addition for stretching and strengthening weak or tight muscles. The combination of massage therapy, chiropractic care, and physiotherapy is like a therapeutic trifecta. Each modality builds on the other to increase longer lasting results.
Even though odds are favorable that back pain is in most futures, a life-time of pain need not be in those cards. Proper body maintenance and awareness can keep discomfort to a minimum and improve recovery time. As more individuals seek alternatives to masking symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs, massage therapy is sought as a viable option: a therapeutic option with positive side effects.