Oct 11

Oh, My Aching Back!

“Oh, my aching back!” is a phrase I have heard numerous times with my experience as an RMT (registered massage therapist). From tension to spasm, achy to sharp, radiating pain to limited range of motion -I have heard it all.  Back pain that is on and off, back pain you’ve had for years, or back pain from a sudden bend or twist.  It will hurt when standing, hurt when sitting, hurt getting in and out of the car.  Let’s face it, back pain isn’t fun.  And we all experience it in different ways.  So why is back pain so common?  What can you do to prevent it, treat it, and make sure it stays at bay?

[Biomechanics: the study of the mechanics of a living body, especially forces exerted by muscles and gravity on the skeletal structure.]

Our everyday biomechanics play a big role in back pain.  The way we stand, and the way we move.  The jobs we have and the sports we play.  Even just the way we are designed.  For example: we humans are bipedalism, meaning we stand on two legs.  The spine is flexible to allow movement, and our vertebrae’s are stacked vertically one on top of the other and connected by muscles and ligaments, and just gravity alone means there is pressure being applied to each vertebrae with the low back taking most of the load.  Over time the strain builds up and causes pain.

Some other reasons for back pain are sprains and strains which occur when muscles and ligaments are stretched too far.  A sudden awkward movement or repeated heavy lifting may strain back muscles and ligaments.  Bulging disks is another common issue people have with their backs.  We have disks between our vertebrae’s that act like cushions.  Sometimes, the soft material inside can bulge out of place and even rupture.  Overuse injuries like tendonitis, skeletal irregularities like scoliosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, all have an effect on the health of our back.

So what can you do for relief? A massage therapist might be your new best friend.  They have an avid understanding of the human body, and muscle imbalances, and how to work with them.  General Swedish Massage can be applied to relax tense muscles and help bring circulation to the area.  Fascia release will provide relief where structures are being compressed and irritated.  Deep tissue massage will reach the deep fibers of the muscle to work through scar tissue and adhesions.  Massage Therapists will also provide you with the proper stretching and strengthening exercises that will provide further relief for you at home or while at work to prevent future pain, and maintain a healthy back and structure.


– Nicole van Zutphen, RMT