As we age, we can start to develop back and neck pains. Over exerting ourselves can prove a strain on the tendons in our back and neck muscles and can cause great discomfort. Sometimes, we do not appreciate the healing power of a well-placed hand. Massage therapy faded into obscurity with the arrival of modern medicine, but according to a 2008 survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association, 25 percent of adults have used massage therapy at least once for pain relief. Massage therapy includes a comprehensive range of techniques aimed at manipulating the soft tissue and joints of the body to relieve pain and tension and can be an alternative to pain killers. What kinds of massage would be used to relieve neck and back pains? Here are a few that could be worth looking into;
One of the more popular types of massage. A therapist will use lotion to avoid skin friction with the aim to relax muscles. The treatment involves combine light stroking in one direction and deep pressure in another to relax the muscle and expedites blood flow. This is intended to flush lactic acid, uric acid and other waste products from the muscles. The therapist will stretch the ligaments and tendons to increase suppleness while relaxing and stimulating the nerves. The Swedish massage is excellent for alleviating stress.
Trigger point and Myotherapy
Pain in the back and neck can be caused by tiny, tight nodules that form in muscles causing pain. These are referred to as trigger points. Myofascial pain can often be linked to one or more trigger points.
In this treatment, a therapist will aim to alleviate muscle spasms, improve the circulation and release the trigger points. Direct momentary pressure is applied to a trigger point and will cause it to release. Often during the session, a therapist may return to stubborn trigger points to stimulate release. Once the trigger point is released, a therapist employs a technique called ‘Spray and Stretch’. This involves using a superficial cooling agent such as Flruori-Methane’ that depresses nerve response and is sprayed as muscles are gently stretched to sooth them.
Not considered massage, but involves stretching and relaxing the muscles while focusing on breathing techniques. A range of positions involved in Yoga are designed to help relieve back and neck pain, such as the Sphinx Pose and Bhujangasana. These positions aim to stretch the tight muscles, strengthen weak ones and are as an excellent stress relievers.
This massage is based on the tradition Chinese medicine and acupuncture. During this treatment, the therapist will use a finger and palm to apply pressure to energetic pathways called meridians to improve the flow of ‘Qi’ (Pronounced ‘Chi’). Each point is held for eight seconds and the idea is to improve the flow of energy. Scientifically, it is said to calm an overactive sympathetic nervous system to improve circulation, relieves still muscles and alleviates stress.
As with any treatment, it is advised to seek professional help before embarking on any therapy. An alternative to massage therapy, which can often be expensive, is to take small periodic breaks to rub the neck and stretch the muscles. There are plenty of hand held massage devices on the market which are designed to help improve circulation.
Harry Price is a writer and entrepreneur. He spends his weekends at the gym as a personal trainer and playing poker with his mates.