Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy for Back Pain:  Will It Work?

Almost everyone can benefit from an hour of good massage. But will it work for back pain?

There are many types of massage therapy that can help those with back pain. Here is a list of several different types:

  1. Swedish massage – This type of massage works primarily on the superficial muscles and is characterized by long, sweeping strokes. It’s a type of massage that every massage therapist is trained to do.
  2. Thai massage – This type of massage for back pain is characterized by short compression movements while the body is moved into different positions. This back pain massage treatment may not be thought of as one for back pain, but can work wonders, especially if you have not been moving your body due to the pain.
  3. Trigger Point Therapy – This type of back pain massage can be the most grueling because the therapist will press on points that hurt until the body releases them. These points refer pain to other places in the body. However, it’s the most effective.
  4. Chocolate Massage – This is a massage done with cocoa lotions that increase endorphin production in the body. It’s pretty lavish, but for chocolate lovers, something to indulge in. The extra sense of relaxation imparted by the chocolate could help melt away stress that causes the body to be tensed up, especially back muscles that are tight and strained.
  5. Therapeutic Massage – This type of massage therapy focuses in on the area that is troubled. For example, if you have back pain, only your back will be massaged, leaving out your neck, arms, shoulders, feet, calves and legs. Some light trigger point therapy may be utilized in the session, and the massage therapist will ask you whether or not he or she can work deeper.

Some People Should Not Have Massage for Back Pain

None of these techniques of back pain massage are recommended if:

• You have back pain that is associated with kidney stones, bowel or bladder incontinence, or tumors

• You are pregnant. (You should not be massaged in the abdominal area.)

• You have recently had surgery.

• You currently have an infection

If your back pain is muscular due to strain or overworked muscles, or due to inactive muscles, back pain massage will most likely do you some good.

Trigger Point Therapy Unleashes the Energy From the Muscles

Of all the types of massage for back pain, trigger point therapy is probably the most effective. But as mentioned before, it can be a little painful starting out. Just know that the pain is very temporary and after the trigger points are released, you will feel a sense of freedom not experienced in quite awhile.

Your muscles are layered in the body. You have deep muscles covering your organs and your bony skeleton, which are covered with another layer and yet another. The top layers of muscles are called superficial muscles. For example, the Latissimus dorsi muscle is a superficial muscle that connects from the back of your shoulder to the back of your neck and to your spine.

It’s possible that you could have trigger points in the Latissimus dorsi muscle. Your massage therapist works on these for awhile, and then you will feel as if you can raise your shoulders without strain and move your neck without strain.

After a few minutes, your massage therapist may find that by clearing out these superficial trigger points, the ones on a deeper level have now become evident. By working on these deeper ones, you will regain more movement and motion in your shoulder, back and neck.

Trigger Point Therapy Alternative for Back Pain

An alternative to trigger point might be hot stone therapy which helps melt away trigger points, but it may not be as effective as trigger point therapy. In this therapy, hot stones are placed on strategic spots on the back and neck. The stones aren’t so hot that they will burn you, but hot enough to cause a relaxation response in the muscles.

A hot stone therapy massage might be a great first massage for back pain, followed by trigger point therapy for the deep trigger points a few days later.

How to Choose a Massage for Back Pain

Most chiropractors will have massage therapists they work with who are highly trained in therapeutic massage, which can be used for different types of back pain. Some of them are also trained in trigger point work.

However, it would be rare to find that one of the massage therapists working for a doctor’s office would know how to give a chocolate massage! You will have to call the luxurious spas in your neighborhood to find out who gives these!

A Thai massage therapist is also a little harder to find but do call your local massage therapy association to find out who is close to you that is doing this type of work.

When deciding on a massage therapist for back pain, asking these questions will give you a good idea about the therapist and their ability to help you:

  1. How long have you been giving massages professionally?
  2. What types of massage do you give?
  3. Do you do trigger point therapy? How deep do you work on the triggers?
  4. Do you have any references I could call to speak with?
  5. What do you recommend that I do before and after the massage?
  6. Could I meet you briefly before scheduling the appointment?

Always use your intuition when choosing a massage for back pain. When you first meet a massage therapist, your initial feeling when speaking with the person in the greeting is your intuition about how well the person will help you. Make a decision based on your intuition.

If you’re meeting three or four massage therapists and your intuition is good for all of them, then go with the one most qualified.