"I love lower back pain!" — said no one ever.
Whether it's sudden and sharp or constant and dull, lower back pain is something we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy (well… maybe). Not only does the pain make it difficult to move or even stand up straight, but when your back is throbbing, simple tasks can seem impossible.
With this in mind, it's easy to see how lower back pain is one of the most common reasons folks miss work in the U.S — but that's not all; it's also the top cause of disability across the globe.
Yup, it's true; lower back pain is a major global problem that affects a whopping 1 in 10 people worldwide. Fortunately, few things feel better than a gentle healing touch — and massage has potential wellness benefits that go way beyond just soothing an achy-breaky back.
Interested in learning more? We can help. Read on to discover our complete guide to the best massages for lower back pain.
What Is the Lower Back?
Known as the lumbar region of the spine, your lower back has a lot of heavy lifting to do; it carries the weight of your entire upper body — plus any biomechanical stresses that occur with movement. As a result, this vulnerable area experiences quite a bit of wear and tear that can lead to pain and even injuries.
The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae (aka, backbones). Each vertebra has a large cushiony disc gel wrapped in a tough membrane that acts as a shock absorber. In addition, each vertebra has two large cartilage-lined facet joints. Together, these discs and joints work in unison to allow your spine to safely bend, twist, wiggle, and shake.
Your lower back also includes:
- Ligaments — strong bands that hold the vertebrae and discs together
- Tendons — a fibrous connective tissue that attaches muscles to the vertebrae
- Muscles — the erector spinae muscles, which help hold up the spine and gluteal muscles
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Most pain in the lower back results from an injury —such as muscle sprains or strains — due to poor body mechanics or awkward movements while lifting heavy objects. Other common reasons why your lower back might be aching include:
- Muscle deconditioning (aka muscle atrophy)
- Improper posture
- Genetics and aging
- Traumatic events
- Overuse and repetition of everyday activities
If you're experiencing pain in your lower back, it may radiate down the front, side, or back of your leg. It might worsen with activity, flare up at night, or ache after sitting for a prolonged period. Lower back pain can feel different for everyone, but if there's one thing that's for sure, a sore back is no fun by any means.
Can Pregnancy Cause Lower Back Pain?
Believe it or not, backache or lower back pain is extremely common during pregnancy — especially in the early stages.
Because the ligaments in your body naturally become softer and stretch in preparation for the birth of your little one. This can put a major strain on the joints of your pelvic region, which can cause — you guessed it — chronic low back pain.
The weight of your growing bump can cause sore muscles and back pain, too often making sleep especially difficult to find. But don't worry — 8 Sheep Organics Sleepy Body Lotion is here to the rescue!
Our pregnancy-safe formula is completely natural and an excellent source of magnesium. Simply massage the lotion into your lower back to ease pain, calm your body and find sleep. What's not to love?
How Can a Massage Help Lower Back Pain?
It can take days, weeks, and even months to completely recover from a flare-up of low back pain and soreness. In the meantime, massage therapy offers a non-invasive way to relieve tight muscles and tension so that you can get back on your feet sooner rather than later — and without pain.
But don't just take our word for it; plenty of research supports the use of massage when dealing with a sore back. The benefits of massage therapy include:
- Reduces tightness
- Improves blood circulation
- Realigns the back muscles
- Decreases tension
- Boosts endorphins
- Enhances flexibility
- Stimulates the lymphatic system
Needless to say, not only does massage therapy work for lower back pain — it works well.
What Massage Works Best for Lower Back Pain?
Ready to soothe your achy-breaky back? According to the American Massage Therapy Association, these are the best massage techniques for lower back pain:
- Deep Tissue Massage
This type of massage or bodywork uses pressure to relieve tension in deep layers of connective tissues and muscles.
While anyone can get a deep tissue massage, it's recommended primarily for those who experience chronic back pain since it penetrates deep into the muscle. If you decide to go this route to soothe your sore back, find a certified massage therapist or chiropractor with experience in treating back pain.
- Swedish Massage
Arguably the most popular type of massage there is, a Swedish massage involves long strokes as well as some gentle tapping, kneading, and vibration.
When done by a licensed massage therapist, Swedish massage can alleviate tension and relieve muscle knots to leave you feeling relaxed from head to toe.
- Prenatal Massage
As mentioned earlier, expectant moms are often no strangers to lower back pain. But traditional massage can be dangerous when there's a small human growing inside of you. So, what's a mom-to-be to do?
Enter prenatal massage — a gentle kind of massage therapy specifically designed for pregnant bodies throughout all the stages of pregnancy.
Whether you're dealing with unbearable lower back pain or discomfort in the pelvic region, an experienced prenatal masseuse can help. We also recommend a warm, soothing bath with our Therapeutic Bath Salts to ease muscle aches, pains, and tensions.
- Shiatsu Massage
From chronic pain to a sore lower back, shiatsu massage therapy might be just what you need to feel energized, rejuvenated, and comfortable.
This ancient technique utilizes the hands, thumb, elbows, or other body parts to apply pressure directly onto various points or channels in the body for relaxation, healing, and relief.
- Trigger Point Massage
While other techniques focus on the entire body, a trigger point massage prioritizes a specific problem area — like the lower back.
This type of popular massage aims to break up painful muscle knots or sensitive spots that hold tension (aka, your trigger points).
- Sports Massage
A sports massage is a systematic manipulation of the soft tissues in the body that focuses on muscles relevant to a particular sport. It’s geared toward athletes, but anyone looking to prevent injury or soothe lower back pain from a sports injury can benefit from this type of massage.
A Final Word
Many people are under the impression that massage therapy is a luxury that is only available to those who like to indulge at luxe spas and posh resorts, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
But getting a massage can be surprisingly affordable! The cost of a prenatal massage session can cost between $60 and $100 or more for a 60-minute massage, depending on your location.
Research shows that massage is clinically proven to combat symptoms of widespread and debilitating conditions — including lower back pain.
So, if a sore lower back is making you blue, consider the six types of massages that we listed above. Just be sure to enlist the services of a licensed massage therapist with vast experience working with expectant mothers to ensure the safety of your growing sprout. And of course, don’t forget to get the go-ahead from your OBGYN first!