Massage Therapy Relieves Back Pain

According to the National Institutes of Health 70 to 85% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives.  It is one of the most common and costly musculoskeletal problems today.  Pain occurs most often in the neck or lower back.

There are many causes of back pain.  Here are just few:

  • Muscle strain
  • Muscle tightness
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Injuries including sports, motor vehicle and falls
  • Mechanical problems such as poor posture or scoliosis
  • Stress

Keeping your back muscles strong and flexible is the key to preventing as well as relieving pain.  Muscles tighten in response to injury and  stress.  Tight muscles can cause pain and numbness. 

Research suggests that massage may be helpful for people with back pain. A study conducted at The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in 2001 showed that massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety and improved sleep.  The group receiving massage showed improved range of motion and higher dopamine and serotonin levels.

Another study cited in the Journal of Bodywork and Massage Therapy (2007) compared the effects of massage therapy and relaxation therapy on chronic low back pain.  The massage group showed less pain and greater range of motion than the relaxation group.  To learn more about research on the benefits of massage check out the website of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami.

Often the best way to manage chronic back pain is to use several therapies at once.  These therapies might include medication, acupuncture, yoga and of course massage.  By working with a healthcare practitioner experienced in treating this type of problem, you can determine the best combination of therapies for you. 

Anyone experiencing any of the following types of back pain should contact their healthcare practitioner immediately and schedule an evaluation.

  • Persistent pain
  • Pain that awakens you at night
  • Pain associated with a change in bowel or bladder function.
  • Pain associated with numbness, weakness or pain around the genitals, arms or legs
  • Pain associated with fevers, chills or sweats


If you suffer from back pain here are some things that you can try at home to help alleviate the symptoms. For an acute injury always check in with your healthcare provider and follow their advice.  Application of ice to the area may provide some relief.  For chronic pain remember to stretch.  Your healthcare provider can teach you some stretches or refer you to a physical therapist for care.  Yoga can also be beneficial.  In both acute and chronic conditions, once you are moving again...keep moving!  Walking and swimming are both good exercises for the back.

Getting regular massage can help relieve and prevent back pain.

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