Back Pain: Part II Muscle Strain

Perhaps the easiest type of back pain to resolve is simple muscle strain from overuse. Most of us have experienced this at some point in our life. We may have spent too much time working in the yard on a nice day when we haven't been accustomed to the activity. Perhaps we've been sitting too long at the computer, in meetings, or on a long car ride. Fatigue and overuse take their toll and we find ourselves feeling stiff with a dull, nagging ache.

Such a simple strain can respond well to rest and perhaps modest use of non-prescription pain relievers. It often will resolve itself in a day or two, although the symptoms may linger for longer periods. If this common back ache will pass with time and rest, why use massage therapy?

There are two very good reasons to use massage therapy at a time like this. First, massage therapy can speed recovery. Second, recovery can be more thorough with massage therapy.

Let's look at the advantage of faster recovery: Life keeps coming at us and back pain can interfere in our ability to live fully. It may keep us from doing the things we want or need to do. Even when we are functional, feeling sore and stiff can distract us and drain our energy. Let's face it: being in pain and feeling stiff is no fun. It makes us feel tired, old, and cranky. Why spend any more time in that state than we need to? Life is difficult enough without adding unnecessary strain.

Massage therapy can hasten recovery and return us to being fully functional more quickly. When we are unburdened with unnecessary tension and pain, we move with ease and regain our natural energy. Who wouldn't want that?

In addition, massage therapy can promote a more thorough recovery. Muscles are like elephants: they never forget. Even after the obvious signs of strain pass, there is often tension that lingers in the muscles that is not obvious to us. Although this low-grade tension is tolerable, it erodes our ability to move freely and saps our energy. That chronic low-grade tension is actually work! Your muscles are wasting energy staying tense while they aren't accomplishing anything but adding to your feeling of stiffness and vague fatigue. This state can persist for years. We don't know it, but it's there, making us feel tired, stiff, and distorting our posture. In some cases, the muscles finally give out and go into spasm, leaving us wondering why a simple task such as taking out the trash caused our back to "go out."

Massage therapy can help "erase" the memory of that muscle strain and assist muscles to return to a more normal, fully functional state. By relaxing the muscles and restoring them to their natural state, chronic tension is eliminated. The low-grade stiffness and fatigue that could have plagued us for years is replaced by a natural ease and energy that should be our normal state. The likelihood of a simple task, such as taking out the trash, becoming a major incident is reduced.

It is much easier to stay well than to get well. By using massage therapy to get well quickly, we will stay well more easily.