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Can Therapeutic Massage Help Relieve Back Pain?

Five Things to Know about Therapeutic Massage

Ever had a back massage? If you are one of the millions of back pain sufferers, you might want to consider this form of therapy to help relieve your pain. Here a 5 things you should know about therapeutic massage.

Self Massager to Relieve Back Pain

Does It Work? 
Massage is a popular therapy that helps millions of people with a wide variety of spinal conditions, including:

  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle spasms
  • Inflammation
  • Aches
  • Stiffness
  • Pain

Using hands or specialized tools, a massage therapist kneads, rubs, and strokes the affected muscles to increase blood flow (circulation) throughout the body. This, in turn, delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and helps eliminate any acids or other waste products that accumulate there, thereby relieving pain.

Types of Massage
There are many types of massage, but the most common ones are:

  • Swedish massage: combines light stroking in one direction with deep pressure in another to relax muscles
  • deep tissue massage: targets chronic muscle tension using slower strokes and more direct pressure and friction
  • myofascial release: used to release tension stored in the fascia (fibrous tissue that encase and support muscles); often used after a muscle injury
  • trigger point and myotherapy: direct pressure placed on trigger points to cause their release; at the same time, the therapist stretches the muscle while using a cooling agent sprayed onto the skin.
  • Shiatsu: an old oriental therapy based on acupressure
  • Reiki: a Japanese form of massage that seeks to adjust the body's energy

How to Find a Massage Therapist
The best ways to find a massage therapist that is right for you are:

When you find a therapist, be sure they:

  • word of mouth: Talk to a friend who gets massage therapy.
  • your doctor or nurse: Many doctors and nurses are very knowledgeable about different forms of complementary and alternative medicine, including massage.
  • American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA): This organization represents thousands of massage therapists around the world.
  • have graduated from a program that is accredited or approved by the Commission on Massage Training Accreditation (COMTA) or the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • ave completed at least 500 hours of training
  • are licensed or certified: Thirty three states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists.
  • belong to a national organization such as AMTA, which requires members to follow specific practice standards and a strict code of ethics

Do-It-Yourself Massage
If you don't like the idea of someone giving you a massage, don't have time to go to a therapist, or it costs too much, consider giving yourself a massage. There are many types of hand-held massagers that can help increase blood flow and relieve pain. Usually just a few minutes on the affected muscles can provide pain relief.

Of course, before getting a massage or starting any type of therapy or treatment, talk to your doctor or nurse. Make sure there are no restrictions on the type or duration of massage you can get. Keep in mind, therapeutic massage is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if massage does not help relieve your pain or increases your discomfort.

Updated on: 06/09/14
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