Low Back Pain and Massage
One of the most common sites for injury is the lower back. It can become the source of pain, referred pain and chronic pain in an estimated 80% of adults. If not treated, it can lead to loss or dysfunction of motor skills, balance issues, inflammation and general degradation of well-being.
Each low back injury has its own signature pattern of pain and referred pain that can be identified and often successfully treated with massage therapy. Studies have shown that therapeutic massage can effectively treat and restore proper function to this area of the body.
Causes of Low Back Pain
The low back is a main junction for a complex network of nerve endings, muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons that connect to and provide coordinated operation of numerous mechanical and neurological functions of the body. The smooth operation of this area can be interrupted by any number of issues:
- One particularly significant structure in the lower back area is called the TLF (thoracolumbar fascia). The TLF is the main hub that links the legs to the arms, the abdominal muscles to the low back muscles, the hamstrings to the neck, the gluteal muscles to the arms as it simultaneously transfers loads and forces from the lower body to the upper body. Any dysfunction in this area can cause chronic pain and inflammation in upper and lower extremities.
- Injury, trauma or abuse to the lower back can create pain in gluteus muscles, psoas muscles, hips, pelvis, sacrum, sciatic nerve, sacroiliac joint, as well as lower spine and can cause misalignment, restrictive movement and imbalances in bodily functions and motor control.
- Moving in repetitive patterns (physically based work, sports) or sitting for prolonged periods of time (hunched over a computer, slouched posture) can cause the fascia (the body’s connective tissue that surrounds all of our muscles, organs and nerves) to mold and secure itself in those faulty patterns which in turn can cause pain and malfunction of mechanical operations in the back.
- The most common low back injury is sacroiliac ligament sprains that are usually the result of damage due to heavy work, over-exercising or poor low back alignment.
Other reasons for low back pain can include:
- Spinal disc injury or nerve damage
- Post surgery complications
- Physical alignment issues that cause miscued chronic contraction
- Indirect injuries to hamstrings or hips that refer pain to lower back
- Scar tissue from a healed injury that adheres abnormally and restricts proper function in ligaments, tendons, joints or nerves.
- Emotional, mental or physical stress that holds tension in the lower back
- The aging process
- Loss of strength in lower back support structures (abdominal core) due to lack of targeted exercise.
Outcomes of Massage on the Lower Back Pain
Massage targeted on the lower back pain can:
- Restore the ability to sit comfortably
- Deliver better sleep due to elevating serotonin and dopamine levels
- Provide greater ease, flexibility and normal range of motion
- Improve posture, balance and motor control
- Increase blood flow, oxygenation and lymphatic drainage for overall health
- Reset dysfunctional patterns in the tissues and structures of lower back
- Promote a more stable spine, trunk and pelvis
- Release the malfunctions of the fascia (specifically TLF)
- Support greater body awareness and more conscious movements that align with proper function rather than dysfunction
- It may also improve a patient’s range of motion and
- Improve blood circulation, relax muscles and increase endorphin levels. Endorphins are the ‘feel-good’ chemicals the body produces to help deal with pain and its associated depression and anxiety.
While massage therapy is not the only treatment available for lower back pain, it has been proven to be an effective support for successful return to normal life functions and overall well-being in sufferers.
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. ~Jim Rohn