Science Catches up with Common Knowledge — Therapeutic Massage does Help with Lower Back Pain
For lower back pain that just won’t go away, people often turn to therapeutic massage as a kind of alternative treatment. While massage might intuitively sound like the right thing to do, there has been study after study over the past few years, each one claiming that massage is nothing but snake oil as far as chronic low back pain is concerned. Just as sufferers of back pain have begun to lose hope though, comes a fresh study that seems to align itself more closely to the personal experiences of therapeutic massage that these people have always experienced.
The study was done on 400 middle-aged members of a group health plan, all of whom suffered from very serious lower back pain that had no known medical cause other than vaguely defined sprains and the like. With most of these volunteers, the pain was long-term – it had lasted for a year at the very least. Some of the volunteers were given the benefit of a therapeutic massage technique called relaxation massage which is a full body massage method that tries to relax whole body; some got structural massage which tries to zero in on specific parts of the musculoskeletal system that are believed to be causing some pain; some of them received no therapeutic massage at all.
At the end of ten weeks of this kind of treatment (or no treatment if you belonged to the unlucky third group), the two massage groups were far better able to handle whatever tasks life threw at them. They were able to climb stairs without support, they didn’t need to spend as much time in bed as they used to, and they were happy on lower doses of pain killer.
Scientists who look at this study praise how scientific all of it is – the study includes great follow-up, randomized design, a great sample size and so on. Still, even as the study appears to prove that massage does help with back pain, there is nothing it offers scientists for a way to understand why it should help. Is it possible that having a well-trained therapist in a nice relaxing environment helps these people? Is it possible that the third group that wasn’t getting any treatment just psychologically felt let down and complained of more lower back pain?
Using therapeutic massage as a method of back pain relief doesn’t really save money though. People need regular massage therapy to feel good, which can be very expensive.
If you knew what the Cause of Lower Back Pain was, would you Change Anything?
A lower back pain such a prevalent health condition in this country, people get bad dreams about coming down with it one day themselves. It could actually be as to the kind of mattress that is affecting your back pain, is it a mattress king size where you can toss and turn as much as you want, or is it a twin size that cramps your style and back? As much as people care to avoid it though, few actually manage it. Four out of five Americans suffer from back pain at some point; one out of six people actually have back pain that comes from a serious problem like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The specific cause of back pain in a person can be difficult for doctors to pin down. And it can be very expensive and complicated to treat as well. Most of it – physiotherapy or drugs – isn’t really known to work reliably.
In older people, any cause of lower back pain they suffer can be simply chalked up to age. Our bodies don’t last forever; and with age, the vertebrae that make up the spine just wear out. The lower back pain that most people complain of can usually be traced to poor muscle and ligament alignment and strength.
Which happens to be good news? It shows that if you develop core strength and keep your back postured the right way all day every day, that the most common cause of lower back pain that people complain of – poor muscle and ligament alignment and strengths – can easily be avoided.
Perhaps doctors should promote good posture as a way to look better. A great posture is not only a great way to stay well away from neck pain or back pain, it makes for an impressive profile, it helps with muscle tone, and you even breathe better. If people thought about good posture in this way, posture would probably end up being a lot more popular. Here’s what you do to help yourself sit and stand in a way that helps your spine instead of hurting it.
One of first things you can do to correct your posture is to merely stop slouching. Here’s how you do it: you need to make your mind up to really stand up when you do stand up. You need to be erect without being ramrod straight, look up so that your chin is gently lifted, pull your shoulders back so that they line up with your hips and pull your head back so that your ears are lined up with your shoulders. If you’re standing up correctly, your back should be a gentle “S” shaped curve (when you’re viewed in profile by someone on your right).
Now that you’ve learned the right posture, you need to sit down and maintain that shape to your back. If you are someone who needs to sit at a desk the whole day or drive long distances, a little rolled up towel where your lower back goes inwards would really help you. If your core muscle strength isn’t strong enough, merely sitting straight won’t help you. You need to do something like take a Pilate’s class to toughen your back muscles and connective tissues up.
Ever seen the bottom of your computer keyboard? Most of them come with a sticker trying to explain to you how the right posture should keep yourself safe from carpal tunnel syndrome. The advice the bottom of your keyboard gives you happens to be pretty sound (if it weren’t, everybody would sue them).
But you can’t sit frozen in the same position for hours either. Your back needs movement. That’s the way we’re built. If you could get up and stretch a bit from time to time, you’d be perfect.
Video: Yoga for Lower Back Pain : Cat Cow Yoga Pose for Lower Back Pain