back pain

Does Massage Help Lower Back Pain? What To Know

Does Massage Help Lower Back Pain? What To Know

Are you suffering from lower back pain and wondering if a massage can help you find relief?

Lower back pain can show up seemingly out of the blue. But it normally happens after your body goes through some physical stress (like lifting a heavy object with improper form.) It can also build up over time or stem from more serious conditions. But no matter how your achy back started, you might be wondering: Does massage help lower back pain?

Read on to find everything you need to know about massage for lower back pain, including the research, techniques, and tips for starting.

Types of Lower Back Pain

Massage will affect each type of back pain differently, so it’s important to understand the source of yours. 

Typically, back pain falls into one of two categories: Acute (aka short-term) or chronic.

Acute low back pain can happen when you pull your back muscles during physical activity. It’s also common after sitting hunched over for a long time or being injured. Rarely, lower back pain happens with more serious medical conditions.

Chronic low back pain, on the other hand, is often related to spinal issues. It can also stem from a condition called myofascial pain syndrome. 

According to the University of Maryland Medical System, you should see a doctor when your back pain is persistent or when it comes alongside other symptoms, including fever, tingling, unexplained weight loss, or weakness. 

Can Massage Therapy Help Lower Back Pain?

When you have short-term or muscle-related lower back pain, a restorative, soothing massage may bring you relief. That’s because the gentle pressure can promote healthy blood flow, all while kneading out any tension in your soft tissue.

However, the amount of relief you feel often depends on the source of your lower back pain. Massage can be incredibly soothing if your pain comes from strained or stressed muscles.

But if it’s from a more serious problem (like issues with the spine), then massage may only be able to offer short-term relaxation. And in some cases — like when you have a fresh, inflamed injury — it might not be a good option.

When in doubt, ask your doctor if massage is right for you. Even if it turns out that you should skip the massage for now, they can get you on track to treating your low back pain and feeling better.

What Does the Research Say About Massage and Low Back Pain?

Research on massage and low back pain is promising so far, but it’s still a bit limited. And while it appears to offer relief in many low back pain situations, researchers are still working to understand which types of massage are best for which issues. 

Here’s what two studies had to say about massage and low back pain:

  • 2020 study looking at complementary therapies for chronic low back pain found that massage therapy helped patients report better outcomes in pain and related symptoms.
  • Another smaller study from 2014 examined massage combined with stretches and stabilizing exercises for women with sub-acute or chronic nonspecific low back pain. The women who received massage therapy showed significant improvements in their pain and range of motion after ten sessions. In other words, massage (especially in combination with stretching and exercise) seemed to provide remarkable benefits.

How to Self-Massage for Lower Back Pain

So, you want to try massage for lower back pain at home, but aren’t sure how? Here's how you can started:

Using Your Hands

If you don’t have any equipment, it’s no problem. You can self-massage your lower back using just your hands (but as a heads-up, you may have to stretch your shoulders a bit first!) To start:

  • Stand up straight, with your arms lowered to your side. Then, reach your arms behind your back. 
  • Bring your hands up, so they’re in line with your lower back. Your elbows should be slightly bent.
  • Using your fists or knuckles, massage the tissue in your lower back in any way that feels good to you. Many people enjoy using up-and-down or circular motions. (You can also press one hand on top of the other to deepen the pressure.)
  • Be sure to avoid directly massaging the spine. Instead, stick to the muscles on either side of it (these are known as your paraspinal muscles.)

Using a Body Massager

A body massager like the MedMassager Body Massager Classic can help you get low back pain relief in the comfort of your own home. 

Here’s how to get started:

  • Find a comfortable chair with a high back.
  • Turn the massager onto a low-pressure setting, and line it up with your lower back.
  • Lean back and relax for 5 to 15 minutes, letting the oscillating motions work deeply into your soft tissue.
  • Alternatively, you can hold the massager behind your back and gently float it over any areas of discomfort.

The Takeaway on Massage for Low Back Pain 

So, does massage help lower back pain? In many cases, yes — but it can depend on the type of back pain you’re dealing with. If your back pain is severe or persistent, a doctor can help you figure out if massage therapy is right for you. 

Alongside massage, a combination of stretching, core-stabilizing exercises, and any recommended medical treatments can get you on track to feeling better.

Ready to get started with restorative massage in the comfort of your home? The MedMassager Body Massager Classic is one advanced massage tool that can provide daily relaxation and therapeutic relief. Check it out or learn more about using it for low back pain here.

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