Low back pain can be a very debilitating condition. Chronic symptoms of stiffness, achy pain, and fatigue
have been reported by athletes and the general population alike. Attempts to control symptoms related
to low back pain range from various physical treatments such as chiropractic, massage therapy, and
physiotherapy, as well as pain relief products including Voltaren and other topical treatments. Although
effectiveness has been demonstrated with these therapies and pain relief products, benefits seem to be
transient at best. Is the problem the therapy itself or the approach?
Massage therapy can be a long term solution to low back pain in athletes. An article was written by Dillen
et al* compared hip range of motion in athletes who regularly engaged in rotation-related sports (i.e.
running sports and cycling) with low back pain and those athletes who did not experience low back pain.
The athletes who reported low back pain had significantly less total hip rotation. Furthermore, the study
found that there was a notable amount of rotation asymmetry between hips. These results indicate that
improving hip range motion as well as promoting equal rotation between hips can be the key to long
term pain relief.
How can Massage Therapy Help?
An informed treatment strategy aimed at alleviating acute pain as well correcting any underlying hip
range/rotation issues will be effective in treating low back pain.
Soft tissue palpation can identify any compensatory imbalances in muscle tension leading to muscular
pain. Additionally, specific assessment of hip range of motion, stability, and symmetry will identify any
muscles in need of lengthening or strengthening.
Initial massage treatments will focus on pain relief while subsequent treatments will focus on treating
the underlying causes of the pain.
* References: “Hip Rotation Range of Motion in People With and Without Low Back Pain Who
Participate in Rotation-Related Sports.” by Dillen et al. (2008)