It is usually such a simple thing to treat, but so many people don’t do anything about it. Don’t let yourself become one of the many who suffer in silence, find out how sports massage can help your back pain or neck pain.
Because we spend most of our day sitting in front of the computer or driving, many of us struggle with back and neck pain. Back pain and neck pain can be caused by many different things, but the most common types are non-specific, mechanical back pain and neck pain, which occur in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc) of the body, and are generally caused by poor posture.
Back Pain, Neck Pain & Posture
Posture is the position and alignment of the body, and a poor posture makes the body work harder to hold itself upright and to perform movements, whether it’s walking, running, lifting, or anything else you can think of.
In a poor posture, some muscles are stretched over a long period of time. These stretched muscles respond by contracting, to prevent themselves being stretched too much, and then they stay like this. In these permanently contracted muscles, the tiny blood vessels which supply these tight muscles are squeezed, restricting the supply of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to these muscles. This makes the muscles work an-aerobically (without oxygen), just like when you are exercising hard and become out of breath. This means that lactate (lactic acid) is produced, and because the blood vessels are being squeezed, it doesn’t get removed. It’s this build up of acidity which causes pain and discomfort in the already contracting muscles.
But it doesn’t stop there….. The body responds to this pain in the same way it responds to most types of pain, by making these already contracted/tense muscles contract even more, so the whole thing gets worse over time. And so, we have a positive feedback loop, or vicious cycle, which we call the pain cycle. However, it is usually a fairly simple thing to treat, with a combination of sports massage, and corrective strengthening & flexibility exercises.
Back Pain, Neck Pain & Sports Massage
Sports massage can help with this type of pain by increasing the blood flow to and from the permanently contracted muscles, delivering more oxygen and removing the lactic acid that causes the pain, and it can also help de-sensitise the nerve endings which cause the muscles to contract and which send the pain signals to the brain. All these things together break the pain cycle and help the muscle relax. At the same time, sports massage can help lengthen any permanently shortened muscles, which are pulling the body into poor posture, allowing the body to move back into a more normal posture. Following a good start with sports massage, simple exercises and stretches, which can be done at home, help to re-train the muscles so they can maintain good posture.
Sports Injury & Posture
If you play sport or train exercise regularly, then you will suffer less with MLBP as the regular movement helps to keep blood moving through the muscle, bringing in more oxygen and removing the lactic acid. But it will still be limiting your performance and putting you at an increased risk of injury.
A permanently contracted muscle can be much weaker than it would be if it were healthy. The chart below demonstrates this. The level of tension in a muscle when you are not using it is called its basal tension. Let’s call the maximum power or maximum strength of a muscle its maximum tension, and say we set it at 100. If we say a healthy muscle has a basal tension of 25 (blue), it can produce another 75 for creating strength, power and movement (red). If a permanently contracted muscle (because of poor posture) has a basal tension of 40 (blue), it can only produce another 60 for creating strength, power and movement (red), 20% less than a healthy muscle. These are only hypothetical numbers, but the effects should be obvious. This means you will have less strength and power to help you win the race, make a winning shot or save yourself from an injury.
Do I have poor posture?
A few key things to check to see if your posture could be better are:
- Do you have a large curve at the base of your back? Is there a big gap between your low back and the floor when you are lying on your back?
- Do you sit or stand in a slumped type position?
- Are your shoulders rounded? Do they sit further forward then your chest?
- Does your neck look like it comes out of the front of your chest a little bit, rather than straight off the top?
- Does your chin protrude forward?
- Have you got any little aches and pains that the doctor isn’t interested in?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your posture may cause you problems in the future, even if it feels fine now! Find out how I can help with your back pain, neck pain, and a wide variety of other problems.