When I ask clients what areas they feel they want more work done in they almost always say the neck, shoulders and massage for back pain.
Many people are still not aware that the two are deeply connected. Usually when the neck is having problems, so will the back. So it's natural to want massage for neck pain and massage for back pain because when you receive skill massage in one area it will most often relieve pain in the other area.
One reason for this is that our whole body is connected through a connective tissue called fascia which wraps our muscles. When that fascia gets shortened or tightened in one area of the body it can pull on other areas of the body and cause problems.
Many people still believe that it is only tight muscles that cause pain in the body or in the back. This is not true. There are many reasons why someone may be experiencing back pain which I have listed below.
When someone requests a massage for back pain from me, I always like to educate them on why their back may be hurting and why doing more than just back pain massage will help their back pain.
The many reason why a back muscles may be tight, sore and/or inflamed:
- Tight overworked muscles-Just pain from tightness, ouch it hurts from being over used.
- Muscle strain- Similar to tight overused muscles. Tweaking the back from improper body mechanics or just an accident like a fall or twisting wrong.
- Injury/scar tissue-Injuries that create small tears in the muscles can result in scar tissue which can limit back muscle mobility and cause back pain.
- Back muscle weakness-Yes weak muscles that are not strong can cause back pain. The back pain is from the weakened muscles sending pain signals to you to let you know to help them.
- Core muscle weakness- If your core muscles(in the abdomen and in the back) are weak then that can put a strain on your low back muscles.
- Mental/ emotional stress- We all carry our stress in different parts of our body. Some people carry their mental/emotional stress in their backs. If the mind is constantly stressed then muscles can be chronically contracted through the body including into the back. Chronic muscle contraction(tightness) can create back pain.
- Bone Spurs. Bone spurs can develop in the back as a result of postural distortions from excessive weight on the low back and/ or from excessive compression over time on the low back. The bone spurs can push into the nerve roots in the back.
- Herniated, bulging or ruptured discs- When a disc in the vertebrae is herniated, bulging or ruptured this can sometimes cause severe pain in the back. This is a result of back muscles that tighten to splint or protect the injured area. Or this can happen as nerves are being pressed upon by the herniation, bulge or ruptured cartilage.
- Spinal tumors- Tumors can also be a cause of back pain as the tumor grow there can be pressure on the nerve roots in the spine that can cause the low back pain.
- Low levels of magnesium- Many people are pretty deficient in this essential mineral which is important for many processes in the body one of them being muscle relaxation. If someone is deficient in magnesium it can cause chronic muscle contraction which can for sure affect the back muscles.
- Diet- The food we eat affects our body in a big way. Toxins and chemicals can create pain in body and even in the back too.
- Tight neck muscles-Like I said above-our body is connected everywhere through connective tissue called fascia. If the fascia in the neck is tight due to overworking or poor posture, then that can strain the back muscles as they work harder to maintain proper posture and balance.
- Tight hip flexors- One of the most common causes of low back pain I witness is tight hip flexors which are part of the core muscles. The hip flexors also called the psoas and illiopsoas are intimately connected to the back muscles and when they are tight they can pull on the back muscles and create pain and tightness in the back.
- Improper posture- The way we stand, sit, run, dance, all have an effect on the back. Proper alignment is super important especially when doing things like working on the computer or heavy manual labor.
- Tight hamstrings- Tight hamstrings(the muscles in the back of the upper thighs) can pull on the back muscles creating back tightness and soreness. It's another aspect of how much our whole body is connected!
The types of massage for back pain will vary depending on what is going on in the back. Despite what many people may think, deep tissue massage is not always the best option for back pain. Sometimes other massage modalities need to be included and I don't always know until I massaging the back muscles or other surrounding muscles.
Every body is different, however, in general massage helps loosen up tight bound muscles and lengthen shortened contracted muscles. Massage can also break up scar tissue due to injury. Massage also helps flush out pain causing chemicals from chronic back pain inflammation. It also helps break up trigger points of pain that can result from overuse of back muscles. Massage can also lengthen shortened fascia and contracted back muscles and give back muscles and surrounding muscles more range of motion.
Massage is just great for back pain especially if it's combined with other self care practices for keeping the back HEALthy.
It does take a consistent self care practice of skilled, therapeutic massage, stretching, exercise, muscle strength training and eating healthy food to keep the back healthy and strong. And the rest of the body for that matter.
Hopefully this massage for back pain article has helped you understand the many reasons for back pain and how knowing about this can help your or someone you know if you are looking for back pain massage.
Feel free to call me for a massage appointment or a private yoga class for back pain too!
Peace and Blessings,