Massage Therapy For Low Back Pain

Massage Therapy For Low Back Pain

Low back pack is an epidemic. It is now considered that most people in the UK will suffer from some form of low back pain during their lifetime. However, despite the prevalence of low back pain complaints, many people remain confused about it. Specifically, what causes it, how they can avoid it, and how they can treat it. Therefore, in this article, I will share my clinical experience and explore one of the most common reasons why people experience low back pain, and how I utilize massage therapy as an effective form of treatment.

What is massage therapy?

If you have never experienced massage therapy with a clinical objective, then as you are reading this, you are probably thinking of a therapeutic or relaxation style of massage. However, the clinical massage therapy that we are discussing for the treatment of pain, is very different. Many practitioners call this type of massage, soft tissue therapy, or soft tissue manipulation, because it involves the objective manipulation of the bodies soft tissues, including; muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.

Causes of low back pain

Low back pain can occur for many different reasons, such as lumbar disk herniation, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and myofascial trigger points. However, whilst these common pain generating mechanisms of low back pain are often identified, and treated, the contributing factors such as poor posture, muscle imbalance and poor movement patterns are often un-identified; and therefore, untreated. These contributing factors are often due to the accumulative effect of modern sedentary lifestyle, such as driving for long hours, sitting at a desk and a general lack of movement. It is for this reason that massage therapy is so powerful in the treatment of low back pain. Not because it involves massaging the area of pain, but because it is extremely effective at correcting the accumulative contribution that postural dysfunction, muscle imbalance and movement dysfunction plays in the presence of low back pain

Massage Therapy – The Consultation

In order for massage therapy to be effective in the treatment of low back pain, it is essential to conduct an initial consultation of the presenting pain complaint. The consultation is arguably one of the most important stages, and should be considered an essential part of the treatment and rehabilitation process. The consultation includes the careful consideration of subjective information, such as, what triggers the low back pain, what makes the low back pain worse, and specifically, what relieves it. Taking the time to gather this information is hugely valuable to the individual, because it enables them to make subtle alterations to their lifestyle, which can often dictate success or failure of the treatment and rehabilitation protocols. Additionally, the consultation will also ensure that there are no contraindications that could potentially prevent treatment.

Massage Therapy – The Assessment

Following the consultation is the objective assessment of the presenting pain complaint. However, it is essential that the assessment does not just focus on the area of pain, because the body is a globally functioning structure, which means that low back dysfunction is rarely isolated to the area of pain. Therefore, a thorough assessment should include the global analysis of posture, muscle length, muscle strength and movement patterns.

Massage Therapy – The Treatment

Once the consultation and assessment process is complete, the massage treatment can begin by massaging any muscles that were found to be hypertonic during the assessment process. Typically, this might include the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius and lumbar erector spinae muscles. The massage techniques that are used might include myofascial release, ischemic compression for the treatment of trigger points, and some general massage techniques with a little lotion to improve the elasticity of the soft tissues, and to improve the local and global fluid dynamics.

Patient Self Help & Closing Thoughts

In addition to muscles that are found to be short and stiff, there is in most cases of low back pain an associated weakness of the abdominal wall and gluteal muscles. This predictable pattern of muscle tightness and muscle weakness is called lower crossed syndrome. In order to address this predictable relationship of muscle tightness and muscles weakness, I often recommended that individuals suffering low back pain actively participate in activities that will facilitate and strengthen the muscles that are predictable weak. Some yoga poses such as the bridge pose, and side plank pose are excellent choices that can help facilitate and strengthen the weak abdominal wall and gluteal muscles, in addition to educating stabilization of the spine, improving respiratory function whilst simultaneously reducing sympathetic tone of the autonomic nervous system. By engaging in such activities, not only will you further improve the benefits of massage therapy, but you will be taking decisive action and will ultimately be in control of your journey to health.


Healthy Bodies Clinic
6 Wentworth Avenue
Castle Bromwich
B36 9AY

Tel: 07806 612 063
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Clinic Information

Healthy Bodies Clinic is a specialist musculoskeletal therapy clinic in the heart of Castle Bromwich, Birmingham. Specializing in Sports Therapy, Sports Massage Therapy, Clinical Massage Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage and Corrective Exercise. Treatments are beneficial for anybody seeking rehabilitation for pain, injury and dysfunction of the bodies muscles, bones and joints.

The clinic is owned by Mark Hutton, a fully qualified practitioner who works with people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. He has a genuine interest in the human body and helping people to reach their goals.