Massage is often treated as just a luxury, something that feels great during the session, but is not taken seriously as a remedy for neck, shoulder and back pain. As a Massage therapist for over 30 years, I have found massage to be a valuable addition to my clients lives, reducing pain and enhancing their health as well. Many studies have been done on massage with mixed results. The following article from Dr. Mercolas Website has some great info about timing and duration of massage related to pain relief. “Timing is Key to Massage’s Benefits for Neck Pain”
“Researchers from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle set out to determine the optimal dose of massage for people with chronic neck pain. Study participants received 30-minute massages two or three times a week, or 60-minute massages one, two or three times weekly (with a comparison group that received no massages).
Compared with the no-massage group, those who got massages three times a week were nearly five times more likely to report a significant improvement in function and more than twice as likely to report a significant decrease in pain. The best pain-relief results were obtained by those who received 60-minute massages two or three times a week. “One of the study’s researchers told WebMD:2
“In the short term, 60 minutes of massage is better than 30, and you want to do multiple treatments a week for the first four weeks.” Read more….
For the past year I have been working with a client who came to me with severe pain from Arthritis and bulging discs in her neck and low back. “Judy” was a Police Officer for over 20 years and spent many hours sitting in her patrol car with brief bursts of very physical activity chasing criminals with over 25 pounds of gear weighing down her small frame. At her first visit, she could barely walk or stand up straight. Her Orthopedist told her she was going to need surgery. Judy had other ideas and started seeking alternative remedies. She was being treated by a Chiropractor who suggested massage as an adjunct therapy. After her first session, she said she felt better than she had in years. I suggested a weekly session, along with some stretching exercises to start. Judy was very motivated to get better because she did not want surgery, so she did everything her Chiropractor and I suggested. She started 3 times a week with the Chiropractor and 2 times per week with me.
Within a month, she was able to begin Pilates sessions as well. She has continued having weekly massage and the results have been astounding for her. She can now spend a full weekend baking cupcakes for her catering business without having to take pain medication or spend 2 days in bed to recuperate. She exercises regularly and with regular massage has a higher quality of life without the pain and side effects of surgery.
For pain relief, I generally will recommend 1 or 2 sessions per week for 4 to 6 weeks. A 30 minute massage concentrated on the neck, shoulders and back can be effective. Often, the issue that causes back or neck pain may have started with a foot or ankle injury from long ago that caused an imbalance in walking and standing for many years. So for many of our clients, a 55 minute, full body session , will uncover those imbalances. It is important for us to help you find the root cause of your issues and help you learn to control your body’s stress responses to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Many times I will refer my clients to a Physical Therapist or a Physician to have further evaluation. But for many of our clients, regular massage along with proper stretching can correct and eliminate neck and back pain, reduce stress and even help with tension headaches!