When should you get a massage for low back pain?
And more important when should you not get a sports massage for low back pain? Picking the right treatment at the right time is not easy. Your back feels stiff, achey every day. It always feels tempting to get a massage to ease that symptom. Is this the right thing to do? Let’s discuss….
Getting a sports massage for your back can be beneficial for various situations related to physical activity, exercise, or sports participation. I’m a big fan and like to get one myself every 3-4 weeks just to help me recover and de-stress. Sports massage is a type of therapeutic massage that was originally designed to focus on improving athletic performance, reducing muscle soreness, and preventing or treating sports-related injuries.
However, we realised that it can help other people beyond the world of professional sport and can help the average person who exercises only a 2-3 times per week. Most of the people we see want to ease tension, this can be caused by work related posture, stress or repetitive exercise like running, golf or going to the gym.
Back pain or back ache is probably the most common reason. So when should you get a massage for back pain and when should you get a full assessment with a physio?
I can see the attraction, a nice massage where someone else does the work or a deep dive into an assessment that gets to the root of the problem and involves some hard work and following a treatment plan.
Here are some situations when you may consider getting a sports massage for your back:
1. **Pre-Event Preparation**: Before participating in a sports event, competition, or intense training session, a sports massage can help prepare your back muscles for the physical demands. The massage can help increase blood flow to the muscles, enhance flexibility, and reduce muscle tension, which may improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
2. **Post-Event Recovery**: After engaging in intense physical activity or sports, a sports massage can aid in the recovery process. It can help reduce muscle soreness, promote muscle relaxation, and improve circulation to facilitate the removal of metabolic waste products from the muscles.
3. **Muscle Tightness or Stiffness**: If you experience muscle tightness, stiffness, or general discomfort in your back due to physical activity, posture or sports, a sports massage can help relieve the tension and restore mobility. This is great for office workers and those who work or travel long hours on a regular basis. It helps ease stress and tension which will also help you sleep better.
4. **Injury Prevention**: Regular sports massages can be part of an injury prevention strategy. By addressing muscle imbalances, reducing muscle tension, and promoting overall muscle health, sports massage may reduce the risk of overuse injuries or strains.
5. **Injury Rehabilitation**: If you’ve experienced a sports-related back injury or strain, a sports massage can be part of your rehabilitation plan. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or sports medicine specialist, to ensure that the massage is safe and appropriate for your specific injury.
6. **Maintenance and Performance Optimization**: Even if you don’t have specific issues or injuries, regular sports massages can help maintain muscle health, enhance flexibility, and optimize sports performance.
7. **Stress Relief**: Sports massage can also provide stress relief and relaxation, which can benefit athletes or active individuals dealing with the pressures of training, work, family life or competition.
So when should you not get a massage for back pain?
It’s important to note that while sports massage can be highly beneficial, it should not replace proper medical evaluation and treatment for any underlying conditions or injuries. If you have persistent or severe back pain, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before getting a sports massage, as there may be underlying issues that require specific medical attention. Additionally, ensure that the massage therapist is trained and experienced in sports massage techniques to provide safe and effective treatment for your needs.
If you have pain radiating down your leg or is sharp and sudden in onset or have any numbness or pins and needles I would always prefer a full assessment and diagnosis before progressing with a sports massage. A massage may play a part in your rehab plan but it won’t be the key part and understanding the nature of your injury is really important.
Also if you have a haematoma, infection or acute muscle injury a sports massage can actually make things worse. If you have any doubt we can help you decide what the best course of action is. Simply book a free 15min appointment with one of our team and we can make sure you make the best decision for you and your body.
or Find out some other frequently asked questions about sports massage and low back pain here