Can Massage Therapy Offer Relief for Lower Back Pain?

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According to the data from WHO, 60-70% of people experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. In some cases, it becomes not only chronic but so debilitating that it’s one of the leading causes of disability in the world. The biggest problem with this condition is that there is no cure or even a reliable treatment for it. Painkillers, even opioids, only provide limited relief.

However, Niki Munk, who participated in a study of the effects of massage on lower back pain conducted in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University, states that massage can be an effective treatment for this condition. According to the research, over 50% of the patients who received massage therapy regularly, reported significant clinical improvements.

This isn’t the only study on this subject, so now we can safely conclude that massage can be used as a treatment in lower back pain therapy. Moreover, it can provide results comparable to or even better than some “traditional” medical treatments.

What Type of Massage Is the Best for Lower Back Pain Treatment?

There are many types of massage and not all of them are equally effective for specific treatments. Therefore, as says Albert Nakhla, an expert on physiotherapy in Bankstown, the first thing your therapist should do is to assess your condition and medical history to develop a unique treatment plan. It must be tailored to your personal needs not only to provide the best result but also to make this treatment as safe as possible. When applied incorrectly, says Nakha, massage can result in an injury.

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Also, as points out Fredrik P. Wilson, the director of the Cleveland Clinic Solon Center for Spine Health, Ohio, massage must be only a part of the lower back pain therapy program. It’s effective but not a universal cure. At the least, it must be combined with exercises that will allow the patient develop their core strength. This way, they will have a better support for the lower back area, which will also help reduce pain and make the results of the massage treatment more long-lasting.

Speaking of which type of massage, in particular, works best for lower back pain relief, the answer is “targeted”. This means that it’s not the massaging technique that matters but the fact that it must be applied pointedly and rather intensively to the problem area. Relaxing full-body massages will be nice, but they won’t provide any significant improvements.

Due to this, the best types of massage to use for this condition are:

  • Shiatsu
    This is a variation of acupressure, which can be extremely effective due to its precise targeting. Note that unlike acupressure, this technique relies on stretching movements instead of pointed pressure, which means it offers extra benefits to blood flow. Note that this massage in the lower back area will cause some pain atop of what you are already suffering. Your therapist will need to work closely with you to determine the right amount of pressure for your personal situation.
  • Swedish massage.
    This technique is extremely common and revolves around long strokes and kneading. It’s effective for lower back pain relief because it can boost blood flow significantly without causing as much discomfort as acupressure and related techniques. This massage will help you relax, which is very important for a patient suffering from chronic pain, because they clench their muscles subconsciously due to the hurt and make their condition worse.
  • Deep tissue massage
    This type of massage is similar to Swedish, but uses more pressure. This means that it’s more effective as a therapy for chronic pain as it helps unclench the muscles and get your blood flow back to norm. This massage will be more intense, but it shouldn’t cause any acute pain. If it does, report it immediately.
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Many other types of massage can be adapted to bolster your lower back pain treatment plan. However, each of them needs to be adjusted to your personal needs. That’s why it’s so important to get your massage from a qualified professional with extensive experience in back pain.

Also, you will need to coordinate your healthcare providers to ensure the most effective treatment overall. Massage is only one step in this complex plan, but it needs to complement other steps and vice versa.

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