Therapeutic Back Pain Massage

Published: Jan 28, 2011

Therapeutic massage or massage therapy is considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine in the US. It has long been used worldwide to treatment a number of medical conditions. Therapeutic back massage (also known as therapeutic back pain massage or back pain massage) has been proven effective in relieving chronic lower back pain. For some people suffering from back pain, therapeutic back pain massage is an effective alternative to back surgery.

How Does Therapeutic Back Massage Work?

Therapeutic back massage is characterized by systemically manipulating (eg, pressing, rubbing, or kneading) back muscles and other soft tissues to produce positive physiological effects on the muscular, vascular, or the nervous systems. Massage therapists generally use their hands and fingers as their tools, but they may also use forearms, elbows, or feet.

Therapeutic back pain massage relieves back pain by

  • increasing blood flow in the back,
  • relaxing back muscles,
  • reducing stress and anxiety, and
  • enhancing positive mood.

Is Therapeutic Back Massage Safe?

Therapeutic back massage generally is safe. But if not done properly, it may cause adverse effects such as discomfort, pain, bruising, swelling, or injury. In addition, massage can worsen swelling or inflammation. So do not apply therapeutic massage to swollen or inflamed areas.

What Are the Most Common Types of Back Massage?

Massage therapists use different techniques to provide different levels of comfort and relaxation. Many believe that different techniques generate different results. For example, long, slow, rhythmic strokes are believed to produce a sedative effect; and rapid, firm strokes to generate a stimulating effect.

The following are the most commonly used back massage.

  • Swedish massage is characterized by long smooth strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, and tapping. It targets the outer layers of the back muscles. Compared with other types of back massage, Swedish massage is gentle and relaxing.
  • Deep tissue massage involves slow, concentrated firm strokes. As the name indicates, it targets deep soft tissues of the body. Deep tissue massage is often used to relax tight or painful muscles. One may feel sore for a couple of days after a deep tissue massage.
  • Trigger point massage is characterized by putting direct pressure on the trigger points, which are tight nodules or knots deep in the muscle causing pain. The first part of a trigger point massage is to release the trigger point. Once the trigger point is released, the therapist then uses a technique called spray and stretch to stretch the muscles.

Other types of back massage include hot stone massage and Japanese Shiatsu massage.

How Do I Find a Qualified Back Massage Therapist?

If you are interested in using back massages to relieve your back pain, the following are the things you need to know while looking for a back massage therapist.

  • Credentials. Make sure the therapist is professionally trained and certified to provide therapeutic back massage. Use the Web site of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork ( to find a trained therapist in your area.
  • Experience. Talk to the therapist and find out if he or she is experienced in dealing with back pain similar to yours. Not everyone’s back pain is the same and therapeutic back massage does not work for all back pain. Before applying back massage therapy to you, an experienced therapist will ask you detailed questions about your pain to determine whether or not therapeutic back massage is a right choice for you and if so which type of back massage may suit you the best.

Please keep in mind that therapeutic back pain massage works well for people with chronic back pain associated with soft tissues but it can’t completely eliminate the pain caused by conditions in which bones, joints, discs, or nerves are involved. These conditions may require back surgery.