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Effectively Treating Back Pain With Massage

One of the most common complaints of people seeking massage therapy is back pain. But the most common muscles contributing to back pain are sometimes overlooked during a massage treatment. This is because these muscles are not located on the back but rather the front of the body. When treating back pain it is important to check the tension of the muscles located on the front of the body, such as the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, anterior scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, and abdominals. These muscles are often in a contracted state, pulling the body forward and overstretching the back. The psoas should be checked for tightness as well. The psoas muscle originates from the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the front of the hip at the lesser trochanter. A shortened psoas can create discomfort in the low back. We live in a flexed society. We hold our arms in front of us as we drive our cars, type at our computer, eat our dinner, etc. Often times we hunch forward as we engage in these activities as well. These actions tighten and shorten the muscles on the front of the body, thus overstretching the muscles of the back region. An overstretched muscle is often felt before a tight one. Easing the tension in the muscles on the front of the body will help correct posture and releive back discomfort. Shortened muscles can become semi-permanent if one's daily activities do not involve a wide variety of movements or stretches, as can be readily seen in some elderly people who can no longer stand up straight, or appear hunchbacked, from too many hours of sitting. This hunchbacked appearance is a direct result of anterior muscles become shortened and atrophied because they are rarely stretched into an erect standing position. This is an extreme example but is very similar to many of the smaller scale muscle imbalances that can result from repetitious work or postural habits. Generally, what stretches the back requires contraction of the front and vice versa. This is why it is so important to address the needs of the muscles on the anterior side of the body. Spending extra time massaging the back is nice and can provide relief, but for a longer lasting effect, manipulation of the muscles on the front of the body is often necessary. Chronic shortening of muscles, due to limited usage or overuse, can cause painful structural imbalances in the body. These imbalances can be corrected over time, but it will require individual effort as well as the efforts provided by an attentive massage therapist.