If you have chronic low back pain, which treatment would you think would be the best to help? With money aside, would you pick a Deep Tissue Massage or a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (ibuprofen) or both? In 2014, a study was done by the Department of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Poznam University of Medical Sciences in Poland that showed Deep Tissue Massage had the same affect as a person just using NSAIDs. Also, they found that people had a more positive effect on pain reduction with Deep Tissue Massage alone. In other words, instead of grabbing the bottle of ibuprofen every few hours to get short term relief, a few 30-60 minutes sessions of Deep Tissue Massage can do the trick and would even last longer.
In my experience and observance, I have noticed that so many people will complain of low back pain and keep buying bottle after bottle of NSAIDs to try to get some relief. When a Deep Tissue Massage is suggested, not many people would go to that idea because the misconception of massage being more of a relaxing, luxury thing to do. Yes, sometimes a massage can be very relaxing and sometimes a massage can be therapeutic and a bit painful. Going to a knowledgeable, well trained Massage Therapist can make a world of different to get the correct treatment for your pain. By doing a thorough assessment, a customized treatment plan can be made. However, this is AFTER a person goes to their doctor first to make sure there is not anything underlining to cause this pain, such as a herniated disc. What I have seen and experienced, the pain is due to bad posture. Too much sitting and/or sitting incorrectly in the car, work desk, or the couch. With incorrect posture, the muscles in the hip flexors and the low back tend to be shortened. Therefore, with proper application of Deep Tissue Massage, the muscles can be relaxed and lengthened by working the tendon attachment and origin on the hip, leg, and spine along with the muscle belly. This helps the body to be able to get back into somewhat of a normal alignment. Furthermore, some stretching, and traction can help ease the pain and pressure on the lumbar and sacral vertebrae. Some of this work can be painful and that is why good communication between the Massage Therapist and client is crucial. If the client is guarding or tensing up, the Massage Therapist should know to lighten a bit or try a different technique to help the client to stay relaxed as possible. Afterwards, it is almost guaranteed some delayed onset of muscle soreness for a couple days. Furthermore, one session is not going to be enough. I do not know how we got into this mindset of instant gratification, but it takes a few, if not more, to feel some long-lasting relief. It probably took someone many months or years to get in this position, so it is definitely going to take a while to get out of it. Plus, better habits of posture and stretching can really increase the duration of relief. Even in the study, both groups (controlled and treatment) had 10 – 30minutes Deep Tissue Massage sessions. All felt relief but from the questionnaire, more people prefer just the massages without taking the NSAIDs that could cause medicinal side effects.
It is nice to see scientific research on massage and shows that 1) it works; 2) work just as well, if not more, than taking medication; and 3) it is essential and not a luxury. Now, I know cannot solve every muscle ache and/or pain. But, by golly, I am sure it can reduce it! And what comes with less pain? Less stress, less bad moods, HAPPY PEOPLE! So let’s start being happy and get a massage!