Back pain can be chronic or acute and can be extremely debilitating keeping you from work and your normal daily life. It can be all encompassing disrupting thoughts and becoming the central focus for the mind. It creates apprehension, stress and tension and fatigue.
You can be okay and then when you are about to move you feel anxious or fearful of what might happen and it’s a fear that can’t be resolved. Some clients have had surgery and are still in pain and some are contemplating surgery but don’t have enough information to be comfortable. Other clients are managing pain with medication but find that it’s not a suitable long-term solution for them.
Major factors or influencers of back pain are postural and structural elements and often where clients feel pain is not the source whether the pain is due to an acute event like an accident or has come on over a period of time. When the body is in and extreme pain and perhaps spasming you need to treat the body gently. I think too often people undertake a course of treatment that they think is right, but it is way beyond what the body is for.
In both acute and chronic pain, I find that long-term structural and muscular imbalances combined with ongoing stress factors set up an area for weakness which leads to spasm, pinched nerves, herniated discs, vertebral degeneration, bulging and prolapsed discs.
Exaggerated tension over time can lead to the slow development of pain or predispose the client to injury through an event that triggers acute pain and inflammation.
When looking at a client I start from the feet and work up to the neck looking for structural and postural imbalances. I also look at the pelvis position and if the client is favouring certain muscles.
Depending on the individual client I will use a combination of massage techniques such as therapeutic massage for neuromuscular release to gently switch off spasming muscles and over-engaged muscles. Myofascial massage helps me stretch and lengthen the fascial tissue that surrounds the muscles that may have become shortened over time.
I work with clients to help them become aware of postural imbalance and help them with better functional movement such as how they stand and sit and movements they perform on a daily basis. Where appropriate I will introduce specific movements to be practiced at home to help maintain good posture.
Back pain can be an unravelling story. First, I work on calming the system and muscles and bring them out of protection (spasm and tightness) then I can evaluate pre-existing imbalances working backwards through events. For example, people they had an ankle injury some time ago which ‘healed’, then they had knee pain then back pain or an injury to the back. So the source of the back pain is the ankle which was injured.
Calming stressors, reducing inflammation and increasing hydration can all contribute to resolving back pain. It’s also about increasing mobility and safe functional movement through a gentle pace.
Clients tell me they get the following benefits:
- Increased and more sustained energy
- Restful and uninterrupted sleep
- Able to engage back in life
- Able to return to exercise and sport
- Able to enjoy family time and playing with the kids