Unraveling Low Back Pain

This month we are spotlighting low back pain. Just about everyone has it at some point. You can blame it on poor posture, weak core muscles, sedentary lifestyle..whatever you want, but it doesn’t have to dominate your life. Today we will discuss how massage therapy and other modalities can help restore and support your low back for a pain-free life.

Anatomy and Muscles of the Low Back

The lower back is a complex and important part of the body. Forming the top of the pelvic girdle it supports and strengthens the upper torso, hips and legs. It is balanced by the core muscles in the front and often becomes tight and inflexible as a result of these core muscles being weak. Spanning from the last of the false ribs to the iliac crests, the low back is made up of several muscles:

  • Multifidus-small muscles along spine that strengthen and support vertebrae in order to reduce friction and joint degeneration
  • Erector Spinae Group– made up of iliocostalis, longissimus and spinalis, these muscles primarily work to extend the spine, but also have some rotational and  lateral flexion actions
  • Core Musclestransverse abdominus, internal and external abdominal obliques circle the low back and abdomen and these muscles are responsible for flexion and rotation of the spine and abdomen
  • Psoas-this muscle attaches the low back to the lower pelvis and is responsible for hip flexion
  • Quadratus Lumborum-this large muscle of the lower back is responsible for lateral flexion, extension of the spine and plays a role in respiration

Techniques for Addressing Low Back Pain

Your therapist may use one or more techniques along with traditional Swedish Massage to help you with low back pain. Often a series of session using these techniques will be needed to restore your low back to optimal functioning.

  • Myofascial Release: modality that uses sustained pressure to correct fascial imbalances within the body
  • Muscle Energy Technique: Muscle Energy Technique is a massage modality that uses the body’s own force to restore muscle length and fuction
  • Neuromuscular Therapy: Neuromuscular Therapy is a system of assessing and correcting imbalances in the body through lifestyle changes and myofascial trigger point work
  • Friction: by working on the origin and insertion of the muscles, your therapist can help to release and lengthen the muscles in the tight low back

Essential Oils for Low Back Pain

Essential oils applied to the skin with a carrier oil or added to an Epsom salt bath can be very effective for relieving low back pain. Below is a list of several oils that can help with back pain relief:

  • Lavender: general relaxation oil for muscles
  • Peppermint: anti-inflammatory and cooling relief for low back pain
  • Basil: stimulates blood flow and soothes spasms
  • Wintergreen: helps with muscle cramps and arthritis

Additional Resources for Low Back Pain

In addition to massage therapy, you may find relief in other complimentary medicine modalities.

  • Acupuncture: working with an acupuncturist  is a safe and effective way to relieve low back pain caused by muscle or nerve involvement
  • Chiropractic Care: through the process of adjustments, your chiropractor can help to realign the boney and ligamentous structures of the body to promote better posture
  • Osteopathic Medicine: Osteopaths use gentle manipulations to restore soft tissue and boney imbalances (be sure to ask if they do manipulations when making your appointment)
  • Nutrition: Weight and diet (inflammation) can play a role in low back pain
  • Yoga: poses such as Downward Facing Dog, Cat-Cow and Forward Bend are simple asanas to get your body moving and restore flexibility and function to your lower back



Essential Oil of the Month



Essential Oil of The Month:

DoTerra’s Essential Oils Introductory Kit $22.50 (15% off the retail)

DoTerra’s Essential Oils Introductory Kit contains three 5ml bottles with Lavender,  Peppermint and Lemon essential oils. Whether you are new to essential oils or an old hat, this kit offers accessibility and value.

Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have long been used to support vibrant health. They are traditionally used in one of three ways: topical (often diluted with a cold-pressed fruit or nut oil depending on the essential oils used), inhalant (often used with hydrotherapy steam) or internal (oils taken in water to help digestive upset). When choosing essential oils it is important to look for oils that have been created using stringent purity standards. As with any other therapeutic item, you want to ensure the safety of yourself and your family.

We will now take a look at the benefits of the three oils in the DoTerra Essential Oil Introductory Kit.  Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint are well known for their soothing and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Lavender and Lemon oil are also known natural anti-histamines. This is especially beneficial during the allergy season in the DC Metro area. Peppermint is often used to calm respiratory and digestive upsets. Lemon can help to relieve excess mucus. A blend of all three in a steaming bowl of water would be a wonderful way to combat the swollen and inflamed nasal passages and sinus pressure you may be experiencing while the pollen count is high. When used appropriately, essential oils can help you use the natural world to tap into your own vitality.