. Back pain is one of the most costly and common health conditions in the U.S. today; and it is a leading cause of doctor visits. According to the National Institute of Health four out of every five adults will suffer from back pain during some point of their lives. If you’ve experienced back pain, you know that it can make it difficult to perform every day tasks, and to even walk, sit or stand. Back pain can result from a muscle strain; irritation or injury to the large nerve that runs down the legs and arms, or the small nerves inside the spine; or from an injury to the discs, bones, joints or ligaments in the spine. The good news is that massage therapy can lessen back pain and help you regain your ability to function normally. Most experts today recognize the benefits of massage therapy and recommend massage as the best way to manage and relieve chronic or acute back pain.
Most healthcare providers now recognize massage therapy as a solution for back pain; and they encourage their patients to seek help from a licensed massage therapist. In 2001, a study at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami revealed that massage therapy not only decreases back pain, but that it also eases depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine. Patients also showed an improved range of motion after their massage sessions and they slept better at night. (International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.) In addition, research from the American Massage Therapy Association reveals that massage improves blood circulation, which speeds the recovery of the muscles and tissues in the back, thereby relaxing muscles and improving patients’ functionality and ability to perform daily tasks. Massage sends oxygen and nutrients to the muscles promoting elimination of the acids and waste that cause pain and stiffness.
During a therapeutic massage, your massage therapist manipulates the soft tissues in the back and relaxes the muscles. This will ease inflammation, muscle spasms, tension, aches, stiffness and pain. Depending upon your condition, your therapist may give you a light, Swedish massage; a deep tissue massage with more friction or pressure; myofascial release to release tension stored in the tissues that encase and support muscles; trigger point and myotherapy where pressure is put on specific trigger points, releasing tension and stretching the muscle; Shiatsu an ancient oriental massage using acupressure; or Reiki: a Japanese massage that adjusts the body’s energy.
Before getting a massage for back pain, speak to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure there are no restrictions for your condition; also ask them for a referral to a licensed massage therapist. You can also contact the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) at 888-THE AMTA to find a qualified massage therapist in your area. Make sure your massage therapist has been certified by the: National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCST), or the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).