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Massage Therapy for Back Pain: 5 Things You Should Know

More and more people are turning to massage therapy to help with their back pain. In some cases, when combined with medical care, massage therapy can be quite helpful in relieving back pain. However, there are some things you should be aware of before beginning massage therapy.

1. You need to do your research before choosing a massage therapist.

Those with spinal conditions like osteoarthritis or sciatica can benefit from massage therapy, but it is important to select a therapist who is experienced and trained to treat your specific condition. A massage therapist should use a specialized approach for these conditions. Don’t get onto a massage table without first knowing if the therapist knows how to work with your condition.

2. You should always check with a medical professional before beginning any massage therapy programs.

Everyone is different, and massage therapy may not always be the best option for your specific condition. There may be certain limitations on the type and duration of the massages you can get, depending on your condition. Check with your doctor first so that you don’t end up doing more harm than good. Your doctor may also be able to help you choose a massage therapist or massage technique.

3. Massage therapy has benefits for soft tissue injuries.

Muscle spasms are painful because the muscle is lacking proper blood flow. A lack of blood flow also means that the muscle is not receiving enough oxygen, which causes the muscle to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid causes soreness after physical activity. Because massage therapy helps to stimulate blood flow, it helps the muscles and soft tissues get the nutrients they need and release the lactic acid.

4. Massage therapy may be painful at first.

If you suffer from back pain in a particular area, it is usually due to a muscle spasm. The goal of massage therapy is to alleviate the spasms through pressure. Some people find that the pressure is slightly painful, but it should never be too painful. This is why it is important to communicate with the massage therapist during the massage so you get just the right amount of pressure. It’s also normal to be sore for the first day or two after a massage, but your muscles should feel more relaxed for up to two weeks after the massage.

5. It’s all in the technique.

Every person is different, which is why it is important to consult with your doctor and find an experienced massage therapist before beginning massage therapy. However, some techniques may be more effective in relieving your back pain than others. Swedish massage uses long gliding strokes and kneading motions to improve circulation and promote relaxation. If your pain is limited to a particular area of your back, as with a muscle strain, a technique called neuromuscular therapy may be recommended. With this technique, the therapist applies alternating levels of pressure for 10-30 seconds in the area of the muscle spasms. Because the muscles being worked on are in spasm, this technique may be painful at first, but the pressure can help to stop the spasms.

Massage therapy can help to supplement the care of your doctor to relieve back pain. Consider these suggestions when choosing a massage therapist, and when in doubt, always check with your doctor first. For more tips on back pain relief, follow me on Twitter @GleiberMD.