Dealing with chronic back pain along with the COVID-19 pandemic can make it difficult to find relief on a regular basis. When regular massage sessions are not available these self-massage techniques can relieve pain and loosen tense muscles. Massage therapy has been shown to reduce low back pain, specifically for short-term purposes.
There are massage therapist/s that are open with precautions in place. But there’s a good chance the massage therapist will not be able to see an individual right away when the pain presents. Back pain will not wait so here are a few tips on self-massage that individuals can do at the house.
Consult your spine pain specialist, chiropractor, or doctor to determine the cause of the pain and if massage will be beneficial. Before starting a self-massage regimen, be sure pain levels are not severe and you are able to perform the massage techniques. Any muscle region, spine included, can benefit from massage both professionally and self. If at any time during the massaging different pain presents other than the massage soreness, stop and evaluate what could be happening.
These self-massage tips are aimed at reasonably healthy individuals. Be mindful of herniated discs, any type of impingement, or spinal compression. If an individual has this type of injury acquire medical instruction on how to perform self-massage techniques specifically for these conditions from a physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
Massage therapy helps in relieving back and neck pain in different ways.
- Relaxes muscles
- Improves range of motion
- Reduces injury
- Maximizes healing
- Better sleep
If working from home and too much sitting has your back tight, in knots, with muscle tension, and stress, self-massage is an answer that works. It is a great alternative until the massage therapy appointment.
One way to give yourself a massage is to locate the painful area/s and gently apply pressure with the thumb/s, moving the muscle/s statically by just rotating the arm/hand together with the thumb pressing on the area. If possible get into a comfortable stretching position and massage the area while the muscle, joint, ligament is stretched out and find the painful area and work it if not with the thumb technique then use a foam roller, massage tool, tennis ball, massage ball, etc, also done in slow circular motions.
When applying pressure, don’t push it to the limit like working out. That is not the goal. The objective is to work out the pain/soreness and loosen up the area. Therefore it’s best to start gently and gradually build up to stronger pressure as long as it feels correct and the pain does reduce. Gradually increase the intensity of the pressure, heat, sessions, etc. But do not overdo it, as that could worsen or cause further injury.
Although not directly massaging an area, stretching is a form of self-care that keeps the body loose and limber. Stretching out is recommended at the beginning of the day and before exercising. An example is runner’s lunge pose and a yoga pose called pigeon. These are excellent stretches for releasing the psoas muscle, located in the lower lumbar region.
Yoga can help by stretching and releasing the hips, glutes, and back muscles. As with massage don’t overdo the moves, overstretch, or hold the poses for too long. Consult with a doctor for any medical concerns where yoga could be dangerous and impair health.
Additionally, a family member, spouse, partner, or friend can be very helpful when stretching. Assisted stretches help and reduce the effort required to stretch oneself. Some assisted stretches include the supine twist and hamstring stretches. If you are the one assisting and want to guide the pain-relieving stretches, start gently, slowly, and pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues, like a wincing face, and short breathing.
Utilize Massage Tools/Devices
Utilize self-massage tools and devices that can help deliver pain relief. Foam rollers and tennis balls can help with trigger points, areas of muscle pain and can help with the hard to reach areas.
Massage balls can also help to apply balanced pressure and even circular massage motion. These tools are typically sandwiched between the wall or floor and the individual who rolls drags or creates friction to effectively work the muscle/s tightness, and knot/s out. Motorized massagers can help with muscle tension in the lower side of the back, hips, and glutes.
Sometimes however there are areas difficult to reach and even if reachable massaging the area isn’t the same because of the awkward position. When this happens if possible use a spouse, family, friend, or partner to massage out those points. This could be the middle back and hamstrings to get a thorough massage.
Just like a professional massage therapist having someone else can be a great help in applying heat or ice to areas that can be troublesome. But if not then make do with what you’re able. Self-massage can be very helpful and beneficial until you are able to see your massage therapist, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
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