Muscular Causes of Back Pain

Back pain is a very common complaint.  But did you know that many forms of back pain are caused by an underlying muscular problem? Conditions including lower back, neck or shoulder pain are most commonly caused by an excess level of tension within the muscle tissue. Fibromyalgia pain can be reduced or completely dissipated through regular massage by a skilled practitioner. Nerve pain can sometimes be caused, or exacerbated, by muscular tension which increases pressure on the nerve. And that many forms of back pain can be relieved easily and quickly in most cases using therapeutic massage from a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner.

Massage Therapy for Back Pain

Massage is an effective therapy for:

  • Fibroyalgia pain
  • Lumbar or lower back pain
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Neck, shoulder and upper back pain
  • Sciatica or nerve pain (prior assessment required)
  • Restricted mobility of joints or spine
  • Tension headaches

An Introduction to Back Massage

Indications: The back is the most common area of the body for that is used for massage.   A large amount of muscular tension is held in the back, neck, shoulders and lumbar regions, so these areas tend to get great results, often from a single session.

Benefits:  The benefits of a back, neck and shoulder massage are relief of muscular tension, assisting healing of tissues, pain relief, increased flexibility and range of movement, improved sleep, release of natural endorphins, and enhanced feelings of well-being.

Suitable for:  A back massage is great for people who have back pain, limited mobility of the back, neck and shoulders, or tightness in these areas. It is particularly beneficial for people who sit over a desk for long periods, mums carrying young children, sports players, or anyone using repetitive or prolonged movement which may displace correct alignment of the spine.

A massage session: Massage therapy to the back usually requires removal of clothing to the area, although some forms of therapy, like Thai massage or shiatsu, can be completed whilst fully clothed.  The back muscles are then manipulated through a variety of techniques to release tension and to assist normal functioning of the muscles.

There is a spectrum of different types of massage, which have specific aims of treatment.  For example, aromatherapy massage tends to be gentle, with a focus on relaxation and absorption of therapeutic oils.  Whereas sports or remedial massage use a deeper technique.  Sometimes this can be quite painful when used in areas of unhealthy muscular tissue, due to the underlying tension within the muscle. Occasionally there can be some discomfort and aching for a few days following treatment if the muscular problem being treated is quite severe.

The back is the major central point for nerves and muscles, and a significant area for pain and injury to occur. If the back is not functioning properly the muscles may spasm as a natural protective mechanism. The resulting muscle tension can decrease blood flow to the area, stimulating nerves, and causing more pain, thus causing a spasm- pain - spasm loop which can be difficult to break. Back massage can gently release this muscular spasm, improve blood supply, and reduce pain, thus assisting recovery from injury.

Massage of the shoulder and neck areas can relieve issues such as frozen shoulder, thoracic muscular pain and associated anxiety, and migraines due to cervical and excessive tension at the base of the head.

Frequency:  If you have back, neck or shoulder pain, it is important to have regular sessions to effectively manage the problem. Pain is usually caused by excessive tension in the muscles, or imbalances between muscle groups. Regular massage prevents this from becoming an ongoing problem. As a guideline, I used to recommend 1-2 weekly massage for acute pain and back problems, then 3-4 weekly maintenance sessions thereafter.