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back and spine pain

Back pain: Is Massage a valid treatment?

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) scientific evidence reinforces the efficacy of massage therapy for pain, fatigue and anxiety.  Now there’s a surprise…..

For years I have been touting my favourite mantra – Magic of the Monthly Massage – several of my clients swear by it and athletes report that their injuries are kept low with additional benefits to their performance.

What do we instinctively do when we hurt ourselves? Press hard and then rub the area which equates to compression and massage.  We are wired to self-heal and a massage forms an important part of the healing process.

Back pain: One study evaluated the impact of massage on pain, disability and quality of life for patients with chronic lower back pain. The study found clinical improvement after 12 weeks of massage therapy.

Arthritis: several research studies on massage therapy for patients with arthritis indicated that massage therapy was beneficial when it comes to stretching out and exercising the joints and muscles.

Cancer: In the USA, massage therapy is now a recognised form of treatment for pain after breast cancer surgery and cancer-related fatigue. One study of cancer patients showed that receiving massage for six weeks significantly reduced their post-treatment fatigue.  Myofascial Release was found to be beneficial as well.

But how does massage work?

Muscle Relaxation: massage therapy increases flexibility and relaxes the affected muscles as well as the body as a whole. It promotes circulation to the affected or injured muscles, which increases nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues. In turn, this increased activity to the affected sites by reducing stiffness and oedema (swelling) which in turn helps reduce pain. This physical relaxation leads to mental relaxation and the release of endorphins, which boost the dopamine and serotonin levels in the body. These hormones assist the body in many ways, physically as well as emotionally, further encouraging healing and pain management.

Posture Improvement:  most back pain, neck and shoulder pain, and muscle tension is a result of poor posture. In fact, chronic back pain, which is the number one reason for missed work days and a second most common cause of disability, is often the result of incorrect or poor posture while standing and/or sitting.  Being overweight, and repetitive or overuse movements can also contribute to the strain on the back and other areas. As a result, the added strain often causes spasms, pain, and tense muscles in the hips, glutes, back, neck, and legs.

Posture realignment - how it works
Posture realignment – how it works: Work and lifestyle-induced bad posture, post-treatment he is able to tie his shoelaces and walk upright

Massage therapy can help get the body back into proper alignment. In fact, improving one’s posture can be one of the most beneficial and relaxing aspects of massage therapy. Massage allows the body to relax and loosen the muscles made tense and sore as a result of bad posture. As part of a consistent massage therapy program, the body’s muscles are loosened and relaxed. Additionally, joints have increased freedom, flexibility and range of motion. As a result, the body is able to position itself in an organic and healthy posture. In short, massage therapy helps to correct the positions and movements developed over time as a reaction to pain.

Improved Circulation – Improved circulation is part of a snowball effect that occurs in the body as a result of receiving regular massage therapy on a consistent basis. Massage promotes improved circulation via the use of hands-on pressure, which moves the blood through the damaged and congested areas of the body. In turn, the release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow into tissues. The movements used in massage therapy helps to remove lactic acid from the muscle tissues and improves the lymph fluid circulation, which carries metabolic waste products away from internal organs and muscles, refreshing and providing healing nutrition.

So if you suffer from back pain, head and shoulder pain, headaches and sciatica pain and need some help with soft tissue release, exercise and massage programmes, please do get in touch.

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