How massage reduces back pain
This is what most people do… they take a painkiller and try not to move because they are afraid the back pain increases. However, if you suffer from common lower back pain, this is the worst you can do. In this article, we explain why you need to move when you have back pain. And why back pain is increasing.
First some facts…
Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It affects about 540 million people at the time. Many people stay home sick from work, which impacts the economy. Back pain is one of the most common complaints for which people go to see a doctor. Actually, about 80 percent of people worldwide will suffer back pain at least once in their lives. And yes, we were among those too. However, since we now understand the cause, the prevention, and the cure better, we are lucky to be back pain-free. We wish you this too, so here are the causes…
Causes of back pain
There are many types of back pain, also called lumbar area pain. In some rare cases, back pain can be caused by cancer. But the most common back pain is lower back pain that is caused by strain, tension or injury. The pain can be coming from strained muscles or ligaments, a muscle spasm, muscle tension, damaged disks, injuries or fractures.
Back pain increases
Back pain and especially low back pain is increasing worldwide. Due to the fact that we are sitting too much. We spend an increasing amount of time sitting still using devices like a mobile phone, computer, laptop etc are more used than before. Therefore we move less. In the past we would have gone out shopping, or meet friends, nowadays we shop online and chat more online. By the increase of technology, we move less. If you are sitting more than 6 hours a day, you become stiff. Your whole body has a lack of movement. And movement is important. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
If you don’t use it, you lose it
This means if you don’t move, you will lose muscle tone and bone mass. For the reason that you are not moving enough, you are not using your muscles and bones. When bone mass decreases you are more prone to develop osteoporosis which increases the risk of fractures. Moreover, besides losing muscle tone by not using the muscles, your muscles also become stiff when you don’t utilize them.
Why you feel pain
One of the most common ailments of sitting too much is lower back pain. So, therefore, the muscle in or around your back is more likely to become stiff, have spasm or tension. For example, when you sit a lot, you will have tight hamstrings, the muscles down the back of your thigh. This can be a cause of low back pain because a tight muscle can be dense, hard. This density in the muscle may pinch the nerve and therefore you feel pain. Maybe you can sense these hard little knots in your hamstring or lower back yourself. When you press on it, it feels like a little ball, it is harder than the other parts of the muscle.
The importance of flexibility
Density in the tissue of the muscle causes less blood circulation. So if we are talking about density in the hamstrings, adherent parts of the hamstrings in our body, like the lower back, don’t receive enough blood and therefore insufficient oxygen and nutrients that are carried by the blood.
This is the same for density around the muscles of the spine. Therefore it is important to not only have flexibility in your hamstrings but also in the muscles next to the spine. So if you sit a lot, in example working in front of the computer, you tend to bend over a bit, which is a bad posture, getting tighter muscles of the back – without even mentioning the reformation of the spine – compressing the lumbar vertebrates.
Besides lack of movement, stress can also be a trigger for lower back pain. Being stressed or anxious leads to muscle tension by causing blood vessels to narrow. So again, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the body’s tissues. This leads to a build-up of waste products, which cause the muscles to spasm or contract. Being under constant stress causes the muscles to tighten and shorten, triggering pain, often in the neck and back.
High cortisol level
This is because when you are stressed, the level of cortisol increases to make you more alert. However, this requires energy, glucose, from your body. The body uses proteins from the muscles to make more glucose. Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles, so when glucose is produced, this is at the expense of your muscle mass. So a little bit of stress is okay when it is needed to be more alert, but for a longer period, a high level of cortisol can harm your muscles. Also, a high cortisol level triggers inflammation in the muscles.
The importance of movement
Now that we understand the density of tissue pinching nerves, the importance of flexibility in our muscles, good blood circulation in our body and the importance of a healthy cortisol level, we can now explain why moving is a good idea when you have back pain. What most people do when they have a lower back pain caused by muscle stiffness, strain or spasm, is taking a painkiller and stay still. However, we believe that this is not good.
The best is to move. Try to go for a walk, do yoga or take a massage treatment. Your body needs to work on breaking the density of the tissue so it will not pinch the nerve anymore. This can be done by better blood circulation and heating, the effects you can create by massage. Moreover, the best is to work on the flexibility of the muscles, good blood circulation, and a healthy cortisol level. With mild exercise, your body is doing all that by itself.
Painkillers versus massage
Then painkillers. Well, sometimes it is impossible to avoid the use of sedatives, but most people take them too fast. Painkillers do have a lot of secondary effects. A massage in example works the same as ibuprofen, without the side effects. Massage affects the activity of certain genes, immediately reducing inflammation in muscles — the same result you’d get by taking aspirin or ibuprofen. By massage, the cortisol in your body decreases and the endorphins in your body increase, making massage a natural pain killer.
When not to get a massage?
However, in this article, we are talking about lower back pain caused by strains, muscle spasms or muscle stiffness. If you have a hesitation that your back pain is caused by something else, please visit a doctor first, to check if a massage treatment is recommendable in your situation.
How to avoid back pain?
The best, of course, is to prevent back pain rather than curing it. So we recommend you to not sit more than 6 hours a day on a chair. If you do have to do this, because maybe you work with the computer, be aware of your sitting habits. Maybe you can move more before and after work.
Plus, if you want to watch tv or reading a book in your spare time, be sure to not sit, but maybe lay on your belly or back, to give your back a bit of rest. Moreover, try to avoid stress, be aware of your posture and be sure to do regular exercise or take massages treatments to avoid dense tissue, to create a good blood circulation, using muscles and bones and maintain a healthy cortisol level.
Create a healthy day!
Nicole & Manel
PS: We have an announcement: We have created an Online Course: Therapy Massage for Back Pain. If you are interested, there is an introduction price at the moment. You can read here more
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