Low Back Pain Study finds Massage Therapy is More Effective than Conventional Treatments

According to this WebMD story a recent study shows massage therapy to be a more effective treatment than traditional therapies.

The study randomly assigned 400 adults with moderate-to-severe low back pain lasting for at least three months to either weekly relaxation massage sessions, weekly deep tissue massage sessions specifically focused on the lower back and hips, or usual care.  After 10 weeks, participants in both massage groups reported reduced pain and improved function compared to those in the usual care group.

Participants reported benefiting from both relaxation massage as well as site specific deep tissue massage.  The researchers can’t explain this but I would guess that any form of positive touch encourages relaxation and reduces pain.

“I think this trial is good news in the sense that it suggests that massage is a useful option that helps some substantial fraction of these patients,” says study researcher Richard A. Deyo, MD, a professor in the department of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

One physician who was interviewed for this article spoke of the importance of exercise in combination with massage therapy.

“Certainly, it’s not going to hurt,” says Fredrick P. Wilson, DO, director of the Cleveland Clinic Solon Center for Spine Health, in Ohio.  “But it’s a short-term improvement, and it’s certainly not a fix,” says Wilson, who reviewed the study for WebMD but was not involved in the research.

“When we see patients, we push them toward active exercise rather than passive natural therapy kind of a thing. If they can have stronger core strength to support their spine, they’re going to be better off in the long run. So we’re trying to fix, rather than ease, their pain,” Wilson says.

Stronger core strength to support the spine.  I like the sound of that.  What can massage, or better yet the combination of movement + massage do for you?  Call Anne today and she will happily customize a movement + massage program just for you!

Gardening for a healthy back

Man oh man is it nice out this weekend!  Everyone in my neighborhood is out mowing, weeding, planting and playing in the sun.  So what is the trick to keeping your back pain free while working in the yard?  I’ll tell ya.  Start with bringing some awareness to how you move.  Many of my clients have reported tight shoulders and low backs after a day spent working in the yard.  One client even herniated a disk while weeding!  Here are a few tips to keep your back healthy and happy this spring:

  • Check your posture. Are you hunching your shoulders and upper back?  Hiking or lifting one shoulder or one hip?  Imagine plumb line from your ear, shoulder, hip knee and ankle.  When you move try to bend at your knees, tighten your “corset” and hinge at your hips vs. rounding your back.
  • Don’t stay in one position too long. I have heard countless stories from my clients about kneeling or bending over for a long time and when they stand something in their back “pops”.  Set a timer on your watch or your phone if you need to to ensure you do not stay in one position too long.
  • Use the correct tools. From comfort handled spades, to kneeling pads and rolling carts get the right tool for the job and do what you can to make your work as economical as possible.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  I would love to hear what you are doing to keep your back healthy.

How to injure your back while cooking a turkey

That’s right, you heard me – injure your back.

Using poor posture while pulling a 20 lb turkey out of the oven is the easiest way to hurt your back this Thanksgiving.

Here I am showing an example of “bad” movement – back and shoulders hunched, knees locked, not moving from my center:

And here is an example of “good” alignment, knees bent, tummy pulled in, back straight, lifting with my legs not hunching my back:

While the holidays are fun and festive time to enjoy yummy food, friends and family this can also be a time of added stress and tension.  As we head into the holiday season our schedules fill with shopping, parties, cooking, maybe time spent on the road or sleeping in uncomfortable beds.  While I would consider this “good stress” this can take a toll on your body.

To keep your back pain free I suggest you use principles of alignment and mindful movement while cooking your turkey dinner.

Any chef worth his or her salt knows the importance of “mise en place”organizing your ingredients and tools prior to cooking. Here are a few more tips for success:

  • Bring your work to you. Sit at the table to peel potatoes instead of hunching over a counter.
  • Orient yourself correctly. Stand with weight on both feet, knees slightly bent, facing your cutting board, bowl, pot etc…
  • Lower your work area. One of my clients suggested putting the mixing bowl in the sink as opposed to on the counter top.  This keeps you from hunching your shoulders while stirring.
  • Ask for help. Enlist the family – even little ones can wash and peel veggies, the hubby or aunt sis can help you pull a heavy pot of potatoes off the stove.
  • Stop every once in a while and notice your posture.  What muscles can you relax?  Do you need to tense your neck and shoulder to stir that cake batter?  See if you can move from your center, keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed.

Here’s to a healthy and happy Holiday season!