Without doubt, lower back pain (or backache) is an incredibly common problem, especially (but not exclusively) with people aged 40 and upwards. However, even at this age, the pain itself ranges in severity from minor and moderate to severe. The causes of lower back pain also vary. Long hours seated at your computer with few opportunities to walk around may be causing the problem. On the other hand, poor sleeping posture because of a badly sprung mattress can also stress your lower back. What’s more, prolonged stress will increase the severity of the discomfort. Repetitive back injuries, sustained while playing a sport, for example, can worsen the situation. Thankfully, whatever the causes, chronic lower back pain can be alleviated in a number of ways.
Dealing with Chronic Back Pain
Your choice of treatment will largely depend on the severity of your back pain and your personal preferences. For example, you may decide that pills, injections, and assorted surgical procedures would serve you best. But, then again, you might prefer a treatment that shuns the use of surgery and medication. One that favors the more “natural” approach of massage therapy. Massage therapy targeted on the lower back would not only solve your muscle problems but would also relax the entire area.
Massage therapy with other treatments
Effective massage therapy can give enhanced results when combined with other treatments including physiotherapy or medical aid administered by an experienced physician. If the conditions worsen, you should seek the advice of your physician before committing to massage therapy on your back.
Muscles targeted for lower back relief
Lower back pain originates from the main muscles of your lower back. Therefore, massage techniques focused on the following muscles will ease the pain:
Popular massage therapies for lower back pain
Three different therapies with one identical goal:
- Swedish massage: Continuous application of long strokes over the lower back. This massage focuses on all your problem areas (i.e. stiff muscles and tense tissues). In this way, it loosens tight muscles and relaxes your entire body.
- Hot stone massage: Hot stone massage is a popular healing therapy that uses hot stones over your back. First, we heat the stones in a special bath. Next, the therapist applies them to the problem areas to work their magic. Massage therapists will also line up the stones on a linen cloth along the length of your spine. This works a bit like acupressure therapy. Heat from the stones carries energy to your back to provide a soothing back massage.
- Thai massage: This massage is related to the techniques used in yoga. It uses moves that work to strengthen your muscles, release tension and make your body more flexible. In addition, Thai massage employs oils to enhance the relaxing effect.
Self-massage for lower back pain
If you can’t find a professional massage therapist or would like to literally ‘treat’ yourself, this one’s for you. For minor to moderate lower back pain, self-massage is a viable option, and here are some techniques you can use.
By the way, you’re welcome to ask a friend or relation to give you a hand. And they don’t have to be a professional therapist. You (or they) should start with gentle circular movements with fingers along both sides of your spine and sacrum (the area around the hip). This will ease any tension in the area and give relief. Also, kneading and compression movements on the top of your glutes (the main hip muscles) will also reduce pain substantially.
Stretching Therapy: Stretching is another good technique for healing your aching lower back. Begin by lying on a hard, flat surface with your legs completely stretched out. Next, gently lift your leg to bring one of your knees to the middle of your chest and hold this position for some time. Now, repeat the same exercise with the other leg.
Another great stretching exercise is to lie on your back and cross your right foot just over your left knee. Next, rest your right foot on the floor and twist your lower body to the left. At the same time, try and keep your shoulders on the floor. And, with your left hand, pull your right knee down to the floor. Finally, repeat the exercise on the opposite side of your body.
- To improve the effect of massage therapy on your lower back, we recommended you have massage therapy once every two weeks.
- For chronic pain, seek your physician’s advice and have therapy every week.
Massage therapy and stretching combined with medical treatment can ease even the severest pain in the lower back. And remember lifestyle changes can also make a big difference. For example, if you sit down all day at work, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and the rest of your body. It’ll only take a few minutes of your day, and it’ll work wonders—good for lower back pain and good for your health in general.