For the final installment in my three-part series on low back pain I have asked registered massage therapist Mike Reoch of Well + Able clinic in Ladner (wellandable.ca) to give us some tips, as well as the how’s and why’s to this very common problem.
Reoch is passionate about this topic and explains that pain in general actually has a greater economic health burden than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined.
And when it comes to pain, back pain is the most common pain complaint affecting eight out of 10 of us in our lifetime.
He goes onto explain that back pain is due to a number of factors, but can be split into two groups: non-specific back pain (NSBP), and mechanical back pain.
Non-specific lower back pain (NSLBP), as inferred from its name, usually doesn’t have any identified underlying or specific causes or diseases.
It may be due to an over-stretch of a muscle or ligament, or the pain may also be caused by a problem with the vertebrae, spinal nerves or muscles surrounding it.
Mechanical back pain indicates that the source of the pain was triggered by the movements of the spine. One part of the spine, or a few, have triggered the pain. These could be spinal column itself, or the ligaments, tendons, muscles, intervertebral discs, vertebral bodies, and facet joints. This type of back pain typically occurs after a recent injury.
What can a registered massage therapist do to help relieve low back pain?
An RMT is best at helping people who have back pain with certain positions or movements, because the therapist can help work out the tight muscles.
Massage also improves the blood circulation, which aids in recovery, increases the range of motion of your joints (by relaxing the muscles that surround it), and increases the endorphin levels in the body, which in turn, make you feel good (which is very effective when managing chronic pain).
As part of a good treatment plan, an RMT can also help you decide on personalized stretches and movements to relieve your pain at home.
Depending on the origin of the pain Reoch says you may only need one treatment.
NSLBP usually clears up after one to four treatments, and mechanical back pain should clear up after four to six weeks of supervised care.
What are some tips to help someone prevent low back pain?
Reoch is a huge advocate of exercise for low back pain treatment (I knew I liked him for a reason). He explains that exercise has the best evidence behind it to decrease and keep away most pains in the body - especially low back pain.
One that the best (and cheapest ways) to prevent back pain that he tells his patients is to simply walk at least 20 minutes a day. And, if safe and possible to do 200 minutes a week of activity that makes you breath hard and sweat.
PJ Wren is a local personal trainer and writer and can be reached at www.thestudio.ca.