Back pain, isn't it a PAIN (excuse the pun)!! It stops us from doing so many things, when really it can be avoided if we listen and pay attention to our bodies. I think just about everyone has experienced some type of back pain in their lifetime, which shows what a big problem it is and how often it occurs.
Time off work for the serious back pain, lack of mobility, stress, sleep disturbance, relationship breakdown, as well as the mental stress it can cause.
The only way our body can communicate with us is to give us pain! Like a baby's only way of communicating with us is when they cry. A lot of the time we don't like that as we don't know what to do. Babies cry when they are hungry, wet or just want a cuddle. Our bodies give us pain as a last resort to tell us we are out of balance, something is not right.
When our muscles are tight, they start to pull everything out of place. Muscle tension in the lower back causes the tightened muscles to start pulling our pelvis up a little. As a result, one of our legs is now a bit shorter as that side of our back is being pulled up, and so the rest of our body has to compensate trying to get it back into balance.
Initially, we might feel something is not right, but it doesn't stop us from doing our daily activities, so we carry on. Over time, we experience severe pain that has started to affect the rest of our body; now we can't bend or twist very well, or find it hard doing small simple tasks that were never a problem before. Then, the pain symptoms get worse, and we wonder what we have done. Or, you might be bending down to put your shoes on but couldn't get back up. It suddenly dawns on you that ignoring it only made the pain worse.
That is the last straw for the back; it wants you to take action and so it gives you pain. You need to fix me, it shouts. Receiving a form of manual therapy like massage is one way that can be done. It involves physical manipulation to address the muscle strains. You release the tension from the muscles, so the pelvis goes back down as it isn't being held up any more, then the rest of the body sorts itself out again, job done.
Take Chronic Pain as a Warning
So, the cycle continues of us using our muscles, but we should also release the tension from our muscles as well. Tight muscles restrict blood flow and get a less supply of oxygen. This may result in muscle spasms due to oxygen deficiency. I bet there has been more than one health professional who has repeatedly told you to get moving, get exercising, but no one really tells you that when you have finished, go for a therapeutic massage to release the tension.
You become a lot more aware of your body when you get the tension released. So when it comes back in again, which it will as that's the nature of the human body, you will know what to do about it and get the tension released before it builds up again.
Of course, sometimes there will be other things going on for the body that are not muscle related. I always tell my clients that if after one or two sessions they feel no different and the pain is still there, it may not be related to muscle, so something else must be happening for the body.
I advise them to go back to their doctor, who may recommend physical therapy, chiropractic treatment or another form of manual therapy. The pain might be due to the growth of bone spurs on the spinal column, a degenerative disc disease, an irritated sciatic nerve, and excess weight. There could be many reasons. Finding an effective treatment requires addressing the underlying cause of pain.
How Listening Banished the Sharp Pain
After about a year or so working as a massage therapist, I seriously thought I had broken my back. I was in that much pain. Logically, I knew I hadn't as I had not sustained any injury, but I had painful muscle spasms. I was given muscle relaxants as the doctor said it was muscular. I thought to myself there is no way this is muscular, so I set about getting that area massaged.
I had to eat humble pie, it was indeed muscular. It took a few sessions, but once I had worked the area, the pain left. That was a massive learning for me in muscular and pain management and what the body really is capable of showing us.
Therapeutic massage is always good to get done, however in between times there are tools which we can use to help maintain the status quo.
- Using a tennis ball to place under the buttocks (important area for massage)
- Foam roller - use on back, thighs, buttocks
- Stretching, but using the breath to release tension as you are stretching
- Hand held massage machine
All of this we can do ourselves, and you will feel the difference when you do it. You will know when it is time to go back for a professional massage.
We have one body which is unique to us, so it is our job to help do the best by it. When our body communicates with us, we must listen and take action, whether it sends out persistent pain or a dull ache. That way we will be able to only continue to do everything we want to but also improve our quality of life by living pain-free. Our body does not want us to fail; it gets no pleasure out of giving us pain.
So, the next time you get pain, don't think "she'll be alright", or "I'll just take over-the-counter pain relievers".
Make an appointment and get some deserving work done on your body. Your body will love you forever when you do.
Author and Trusted NTP practitioner
Body Balancing Massage
Karin worked as a Registered Nurse for 27 years, and retired from Nursing 6 years ago to concentrate on her business. She has worked as a Massage Therapist for 13 years and changing as she grows.