Low Back Pain and Massage, by Jesse Byrd

Image

Low back pain is the 2nd leading cause to see your doctor in America

One of the most common ailments for which people seek massage is Low Back Pain.​​

Recently, a good friend hurt his back by hefting some lumber around while building a greenhouse. He wanted to build it quickly as he was racing an upcoming cold-snap. He learned something that most of Americans do at some point in their lives: lifting and twisting at the same time is not a good idea. The New York Times reported in 2012 that Low Back Pain is the second most common complaint for which people consult their doctors’ (6).​

The most important thing to learn regarding Low Back Pain (LBP), is how to prevent it. A lot of grief can be circumvented using proper lifting techniques. The Mayo Clinic has a brief, but informative, slideshow on proper lifting techniques here (4). Many people who come to see me for LBP have been lifting things that they don’t expect to cause them trouble.​

For example, one woman had been frequently reaching down to pick up her child, and then carrying him on her hip. Children are light at first, but they quickly get heavier. This client was used to just twisting, bending over and hoisting the child up. She wasn’t concerned with bending at the knees and maintaining proper spinal curvature.​

Another friend often comes to me for LBP treatment. He frequently lifts heavy things, alone, so it isn’t surprising that he gets occasional spasms. There was one instance, however, when he was simply moving wet clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Wet clothes are heavier than you might think, but more importantly transferring them from one machine to the other requires lifting and twisting (probably with knees locked). He may not have had any trouble doing this usually, but my friend, having previous injury to the area is more susceptible to re-injury.​

It isn’t just previous injury that predisposes someone to LBP caused by muscular strain. A number of other factors can be involved, and paying attention to them can help avoid not only low back strain, but strain elsewhere as well. These factors, called perpetuating factors, by Travell and Simons’ (p178 1.) include mechanical stresses, nutritional inadequacies, metabolic and endocrine inadequacies, psychological factors, chronic infection, and others. Questions to ask yourself and your doctor include:​

  •     Am I overusing, underusing, or misusing my muscles? Bad furniture? Bad posture, repetitive strain?​​​
  •     Am I getting adequate amounts of vitamins B and C, Iron, calcium, potassium, and trace minerals?​​​
  •     Is my thyroid functioning properly? Am I anemic?​​
  •     Am I fully addressing my stress, depression, and/or anxiety?​​
  •     Are there underlying psychological motivations for continuing to be sick?​​
  •     Am I uncomfortable asking for help? Are there secondary benefits to being in pain that I don’t want to lose?​​
  •     Do I have a chronic infection or allergies?​
  •     Am I getting adequate sleep?​

Having an awareness of these perpetuating factors, along with proper lifting techniques and body mechanics are important to preventing strain and spasms in the low back, and if strain has already occurred, will help to promote faster recovery and prevent re-injury. ​

​©Jesse W. Byrd 2013

Image

Jesse writes for our Athletic Touch blog monthly. Visit his page on our website here.

1. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual,  by Travell & Simons’

3. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-treat-lowerback-pain.html

4. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/LB00004_D

5. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/pulled-back-muscle-and-lower-back-strain

6. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/back-pain-low/overview.html

​​

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

iStock_000008895600Small   iStock_000011490260Small

1 hour per month is the quick answer-for the regular NON-COMPETING person. (For competing athletes in training, this article is not for you.)

For preventative healthcare in your life, have a 1 hour massage each month, IF you don’t have any nagging pains, depression issues, injuries, recent surgeries (within 1 year). Start now and your body will thank you.  Just think…how the world would change if everyone had a massage every month!!

With chronic pain, anxiety, recent injuries or surgeries & other possible ailments, having a massage 1-2 per week —-until your issue is resolved—- is the best plan of attack.  Depending on your issue, this could take 1-12 weeks, or longer.  Try to think of this as an incredible investment into your healthcare, into your longevity, health, happiness & smart living.

After the pain or anxiety stays away for more than 1 week, then start to spread out the time between massages: 10 days, then 14 days, then 21 days, and finally 28 days between massages.  Remember to stay 14 days, 14 days, etc, until there is no pain for that entire time between sessions.  You could even call your therapist & push your appointment out a few days if you don’t feel pain yet.

It is not uncommon to need a weekly massage for a few weeks within this entire process…especially for off-season marathon runners or MMA fighters between fights, or people recovering from hip/knee replacements, for example.  Don’t give up hope!! This is not a set-back, instead, it’s a shift for your healing process and a time when your body may need just a bit more support.

Truly learning how to support your body by understanding what it needs to heal is a great gift.  Once your brain and your body are on the same team and not fighting each other, many things start to click into place.

When you have 28 days between massages PAIN FREE, there is nothing better for client or therapist!!  Even the first week without pain is very exciting.  Just remember that it can take a few weeks, but if you are consistent & gentle with yourself, miracles can happen.

Start this week!  Have a massage and de-stress.  Breathe deeper.  Feel more peace. Hope.  And most of all, Love.  Yourself.

Our Favorite Stretch

If you don’t have a ball, you can lay on the ground. Or, you can do a side bend…but the ball works best.

Try this stretch for aching in your neck, shoulder, arm or low back. The key is to point and push your big toe into the ground. This will help stretch your hip away from your shoulder which gives a great stretch.

Start by sitting on the ball, turning on your side with your hip pointing toward the ceiling. Push your upper toe into the ground, and try to place it as far behind you as possible.

Next, reach your arm over your head.

Try to get the most distance between your hip bone and your shoulder. Twist your chest toward the ceiling, then away–looking down–to get the best range of stretching from this position.

This is by far my favorite stretch and the most requested by my clients.

Does it work for you? If not, what is aching on you? Maybe we can come up with a better stretch for you. Email me.Image