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BACK MASSAGE

 

Back is the most common reasons people seek treatment from a massage therapist.

Massage therapy can help Back injuries, muscle spasms, strains, sprains, tendonitis, whiplash, and stress-induced muscle tension.

A back massage is also called a back rub. It is given by stroking your hands across a person's neck, shoulders, and back. A back massage increases the flow of blood to the skin and muscles of the back. In-patients who must stay in bed, this can prevent skin breakdown and bedsores.

Before you start the massage you can put a variety of oils on the back. Sometimes its soothing if you really warm up the oil too loosen the muscles. If you have never massaged the person, at the start test to see if the skin is rough or flabby. Also, remember to check if theres any issues with the receivers back.

Required Equipment for Back Massage:

  • Warm, quiet, relaxed environment.
  • Firm comfortable surface such as a (firm) bed, massage table or floor mat.
  • Massage Oil. Baby oil will do fine for a starter.
  • Towels: to lie on, and also to cover the body.
  • Cushions or pillows.

Setting the mood:

1. Prior to having a massage, a hot bath or shower is an ideal way to begin the relaxation process.  

2. Having aromatherapy burning or candles burning can add I wonderful scent and relaxing mood to the room with the glow from the candles.

3. Wear some loose-fitting clothes and use an edible oil, such as almond oil, because the skin soaks it up and can be friendlier to your body then a petroleum-based one.

4. Ideally it is better if the person receiving the massage has no shirt on but it can be done through clothing as well, however oil is not recommended if that is the case.  

Positioning the Person:

Have the person lie face-down on a flat surface, with his or her head turned to one side.  If this isn't comfortable, you can adjust the massage to be done in a chair, with the person straddling the chair and lightly embracing the chair's back or resting his or her head on their arms folded at the top of the chair's back.

Note: Never rub directly over the spine, as this is a vulnerable area that shouldn't receive undue pressure.  

Performing a Back Massage

  • Have the person lie on their stomach. If you feel comfortable sit on their lower buttocks.
  • Begin with long, slow, whole-hand stroking movements; starting at the lower back and moving straight up towards the neck. Take your time; RELAX and breathe deeply; focus on your partner
  • Use a smooth, delicate stroke (called "effleurage") to apply massage oil. In one long stroke, slide your palms down either side of the spine to the pelvis; scoop out around the hips and back up the sides to the shoulders. Maintain contact with the back. Glide your hands over the back to start a new area.
  • Now separate your hands and bring them over the shoulder blades towards the floor. Pull your hands back along your partner's sides.
  • Next, work with your thumbs on the lower back. Using the balls of your thumbs, make short, rapid strokes away from you toward your partner's head.
  • Glide your hands to the top of the shoulders. Firmly grasp and knead the entire upper back and shoulder area.
  • Next, massage the back of the neck and head. Use the balls of your thumbs and fingers to gently knead this area. Use a small, circular motion and work from the base of the neck up towards the head. Use a smooth, firm stroke down to the base of the neck.
  • With the hands placed in the middle of the back, spread your fingers and stroke upward and outward toward the shoulder.
  • To end the massage, use your fingertips to make feather-light strokes from the neck to the lower back. Finally, gently remove both hands.

It's tough to reach your own back for a massage, so try using tennis balls to do the job, says Ed Moore, a certified massage therapist who has worked with the U.S. Olympic cycling team.

Before you begin the massage, slide two tennis balls into a sock, tying off the open end of the sock so that the balls are touching each other,

Take a deep breath and let your body relax into the balls. Rock your hips gently from side to side. Then adjust your body slightly so that the balls more up your back a few inches. Hold that position briefly, then take a deep breath. Wait until you feel a sense of softening or melting into the balls before you move them farther up your back This really helps to work out the very tight muscles in lower back and hips

The kind of massage used to treat back pain is called Neuromuscular therapy (NMT), or trigger point myotherapy. This type of massage works to relieve pain by balancing the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. NMT incorporates special massage therapy techniques, myofacial release, and stretching to relive both acute and chronic patterns of pain.

A study on massage and back pain conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in 2001 found that: “Massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. The massage therapy group also showed improved range of motion and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.” (International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.)

Clinical scenario

A 32 year old female patient presents to her general practitioner with a 3 month history of lower back pain. She is previously fit and well, has no neurological symptoms or signs or features to suggest a serious underlying cause. You diagnose a simple low back strain and advise her to take analgesics as required and to mobilise. She informs you that her friend is a massage therapist and wonders if you think it would help her get better quicker.

 

       
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