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Benefits of Massage for Lower Back Pain

Most of us will experience some sort of pain in the lower back region, and given the incredibly complex structure of the lumbar spine, with all of it’s bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles, providing not only support but also strength and flexibility all at once, it is no wonder that the lower back might be left susceptible to injury and pain.


Pain in the lower back can occur for a number of reasons, including injury to the muscles, ligaments, joints or disks. It can also be as a result of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The treatment you engage with will somewhat depend on the symptoms you are experiencing, and it is important to discuss these with your therapist.


The symptoms of lower back pain can be varied depending on what is causing the pain. Mechanical pain is mainly caused as a result of injury to the muscles, ligaments, bones and joints in the lower spine, and tends to be more localised in the lower back and glutes. This sort of pain can be dull or achy or feel like tightness where the muscle goes into spasm to try and protect the area. Radicular pain is caused by disruption to the nerve, where the spinal root either becomes impinged or inflamed; this pain is often sharper and has a more burning quality. Radicular pain also tends to ‘move’ around the body and can affect distal areas such as the feet, with pain, numbness and tingling.


Remedial massage can be beneficial to treat both types of lower back pain (for example by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation to the area) and often massage can also help more holistically by reducing anxiety and depression that is often associated with back pain, especially in chronic situations. Whilst lower back pain can be short-term and easily remedied, it can also lead to chronic pain, which can be debilitating on an emotional level as well as physical level.


Research shows that massage is effective for any persistent lower back pain, with benefits including:


  • Reducing pain or even eliminating it all together 

  • Relieving and relaxing tight muscles

  • Improving the circulation of your blood, which can be important for muscular healing

  • Helping reducing feelings of anxiety and reducing stress levels

  • Reducing healing time helping you to return to normal activities sooner rather than later


Massage can also be a great supplement to other treatments, such as Pilates, physiotherapy, acupuncture, the use heat and cold, and taking anti-inflammatory medication when necessary.


When it comes to massage, there are broadly two different types: full body massage (such as Swedish massage) and more structural massage (such as Remedial massage and trigger point therapy). As the name suggests, full body massage helps to promote relaxation and works on all areas of the body, without placing too much focus on one area in particular. Whilst this can be beneficial on a holistic level, when looking at relieving specific lower back pain, a Remedial massage that focusses on the target area might be more effective.


All massage styles are likely to help to relieve pain to some degree, so it is worth working with your remedial massage therapist to find what works best for you according to your preferences, as well as pain level. For anyone who experiences back pain, massage therapy is something that can bring much-needed relief. There is no set recommendation for the number of massage sessions needed, as it will vary from person to person, but even one treatment can make a big difference!


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