I try to practise what I preach (most of the time), which is why once a month I have a deep tissue back massage. In the media we hear so much about the importance of following a good diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, reducing (or eliminating) the amount we drink/smoke, etc. The yoga boom in recent years has brought more attention to the importance of correct body posture, but is enough being said about the consequences of neglecting our joints and muscles? It would be difficult to lose weight if you had a reoccurring back problem that made it difficult to get through the day, let alone an exercise class.
In day-to-day life we expect a lot of our bodies and it’s only when tested that we realise how resilient we are. However, we can never take our physical health for granted. It only takes one awkward twist or manoeuvre and you could end up with a niggle that might last months or even years. I didn’t appreciate this enough until last year when I was involved in a car accident. Someone drove into my car from behind (which was stationary in a queue of traffic), forcing it into the car in front. I knew instantly that I had jarred my neck and went to a walk-in centre. I was told that I had most probably sustained a whiplash injury, which might feel worse before it gets better. Two days later, the pain literally took my breath away. I couldn’t turn my head and was walking like a robot. I received ongoing treatment from a physiotherapist and as with most whiplash injuries, it all settled down in time. That said, I’ve now been left with a weak spot and if I don’t look after my neck/shoulder muscles with regular massage treatments, I soon know about it.
Given that it’s Back Care Awareness Week, now is as good a time as any to highlight why massage is so important in terms of maintaining and looking after your back. I’m going to do this by tackling some common misconceptions about massage.
1. I’m not in pain so I don’t need a massage. Wrong! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, prevention is better than cure. By taking care of your back muscles you will have a better chance of recovering from an injury should you sustain one. More importantly, you can prevent an injury from happening in the first place. While some injuries result from a sudden impact or trauma, most of my clients are in need of treatment due to long-term incorrect muscle usage. Poor posture, wear and tear, and tightness can all contribute to back pain and discomfort. Regular massage treatments can help to keep muscles loose and limber, rectifying the daily stresses we place on them.
2. Massage is just for people who like to be pampered. I’m guilty for having once thought this but experience has taught me differently. While relaxation is an obvious and well known benefit, there are many other reasons why people need massage treatments. For example, massage can improve sleep by reducing the level of cortisol (the stress hormone), which if elevated at night can cause sleep disturbance. A leg treatment can be very beneficial for pregnant women who experience swelling in their feet and lower legs, as massage boosts the lymphatic system, which rids the body of excess fluid and waste (in addition to transporting infection-fighting cells around the body).
3. The benefits are short term. This is not necessarily the case. If you have back pain resulting from years of poor posture, or even a recent injury, one massage will not ‘fix’ you. There are no quick fixes when it comes to repairing muscle and soft tissue damage. However, regular massage treatments can encourage muscles to relearn their correct functionality and positioning.
4. No pain no gain. Some people enjoy being pummelled by a massage therapist and think that if they’re not reduced to tears, then it’s not really doing anything. Depending on the type of massage you receive, you might feel tenderness and discomfort. For example, receiving a sports massage can be far from relaxing. However, that does not mean that other forms of massage, such as Swedish and deep tissue, are not effective. All types of massage boost the circulatory system by bringing oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body. This aids healing but also promotes the health and functionality of muscles.
5. It’s expensive. I think this misconception comes from the belief that massage is more of a treat than a necessity. For me personally, massage wasn’t something that I used to spend money on as I didn’t think I needed it. It wasn’t until I sustained a few injuries that I realised I needed massage to not only undo the damage that had been done, but more importantly, to stay pain free afterwards. Think of massage as car maintenance. Each year you service and MOT your vehicle to ensure its safety and to prevent a potential breakdown. Your body is no different. Without maintenance, wear and tear will eventually take its toll. Why wait until you hit a bump in the road?
I hope the above has unravelled some of the most common massage misconceptions and made you consider massage and the importance of body maintenance in a different light.
For a full list of my treatments click here. If you'd like further information about the benefits of massage feel free to get in touch.
Inner Wellness Massage Blog
Welcome to my wellness blog! This is where I will share all things health and wellbeing. I hope to encourage others to prioritise their own health while I continuously work to better my own.
Disclaimer: the views and experiences shared are my own and information based on health-related topics has been researched. While this blog promotes and encourages a healthy lifestyle, I am not a doctor and the content is not intended as medical advice. Always seek help from a medical professional if you are concerned about your health.