Low Back Pain

Low back pain is very common among general population. It is estimated that 95% of people experience it at least once in a lifetime.

In spite of the fact that athletes tend to be in a better physical condition, more flexible and by this, should have reduced risk of low back pain, it is proved that during sport, greater amount of load is placed on the lumbar spine. It is particularly noticeable in activities involving repetitive flexion or explosive extension, including football, golf, gymnastic and wrestling. Research shows that spine is one of the most frequently injured areas in sport and in general life.

Back injuries can be classified into two groups: acute and overuse injuries. Acute injuries are when a direct impact or mechanism of injury occurs. For instance, muscle strain when bending down, ligament sprain during sudden twist or muscle pull when lifting a heavy object. The mechanism of injury is obvious and well known to the person who experiences the injury.

Overuse injuries are harder to fit into timescale. They usually are chronic and gradually become more and more uncomfortable. They are often associated with doing repetitive motions, muscle tightness or postural dysfunctions.

Sports and deep tissue massage plays a great role in preventing any type of back injuries or pain. Here is how massage and body work can help:

If muscles are too tight: it usually means than muscles are overused or used in a wrong way. This includes all back muscles but also gluteus, hamstrings, hip flexors, IT band and some more. Massage helps to identify the tightness and release it. Increase of blood flow, direct heat from touch, release of trigger points, flushing out all waste products, toxins – all helps to loosen up the muscles.

Muscle imbalance: it occurs when one side of the body or back is working harder than another. It is often associated with previous injuries and compensation patterns. Sports and deep tissue massage helps to identify the imbalance, release the overworking, tight muscles and activate the underworking muscles.

Weakness of core muscles: core muscles play great role in keeping the body properly aligned and ensuring the right muscles are working in the right way. When core is weak, it puts more pressure on the back muscles which gradually become strained. Bending down, getting up from sitting or lying position, lifting objects, running, walking stairs- these are just examples of when we need our core to take over to prevent injuries. Massage helps to identify any potential weakness and activate some of the muscles. Most sports massage therapist would also be able to advice on appropriate core strengthening exercises.

Postural problems such as scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis: they are often associates with all above: muscle weakness, imbalance and tightness. Sitting at the desk is one of the most common causes for postural dysfunctions. Massage can help to loosen up the muscles which pull the spine in the wrong directions and switch on the muscles which are underworking. It can also soothe the spinal joints and ligaments and therefore slow down any arthritic changes. Massage feels wonderful for those who experience problems with their posture as it also has a positive impact on neural system.

Structural misalignment – pelvis tilt, leg length discrepancy, slight vertebras misalignments: even though massage sessions aren’t designed to manipulate any of the joints, a lot of soft tissue techniques can actually help the body to recover from these misalignments by itself. For example, by loosening hip flexors we can often correct slight pelvis tilt or by releasing some back muscles, we can allow the vertebra to get back into the right place. Some of the leg length discrepancy is also related to tightness of low back muscles called Quadratus Lumborum, therefore can very easily be corrected by massage work.

Massage can provide substantial relief for those who already suffer with low back pain. However, it is also extremely effective as prevention. As research indicates, 95% of all people will most probably experience the back pain at some point in their lives. Why not increasing the chance of being in the remaining 5%...?

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