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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

How can massage therapy help low back pain?



How can massage therapy help low back pain?

A sore lower back can be debilitating, affecting everything from daily movements to overall well-being. While over-the-counter pain medications and rest may offer temporary relief, an approach like massage therapy can provide more effective and longer-lasting results. By targeting specific muscle groups, massage therapy can focus more on the source of the problems and offers a natural and effective solution to alleviate lower back pain.


Massage therapy focuses on manipulating soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, to promote relaxation, reduce tension, and improve circulation. The low back may seem like one big area, however there are lots of different muscle groups in areas not in the actual back that can cause and help relieve low back pain.

How can massage therapy help low back pain?

Some of the areas a Massage Therapist would work on for low back pain would be:

  1. Latissimus Dorsi (Lats): These large muscles cover both the upper and lower part of the back. Since they are so large, they get used a lot and can easily get tight. These, along with the Quadratus Lumborum (actually an abdominal muscle, but located so close to the back, it is considered a back muscle) can be massaged with deeper pressure, kneading, and cross-fiber friction to loosen up tightness and promote circulation.

  2. Erector Spinae: These muscles run along the spine and are often prone to tension and tightness, contributing to lower back pain. Massage therapists use deep tissue massage and kneading techniques to release knots and improve flexibility in the erector spinae muscles.

  3. Gluteal Muscles: The gluteal muscles, particularly the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, play a crucial role in supporting the lower back and pelvis. Massage therapy techniques such as compression, kneading, and trigger point therapy help alleviate tension and improve blood flow to these muscles, reducing pain and discomfort in the lower back region.

  4. Hip Flexors: Tight hip flexor muscles, including the psoas and iliacus muscles, can contribute to lower back pain by pulling the pelvis forward and causing postural imbalances. Massage therapy techniques such as stretching and deep tissue massage help release tension in the hip flexors, promoting better alignment and reducing strain on the lower back.

  5. Hamstrings: Tight hamstrings can adversely affect pelvic alignment and contribute to lower back pain. Massage therapists use techniques such as myofascial release and stretching to lengthen and loosen the hamstring muscles, alleviating pressure on the lower back and improving overall flexibility.

  6. Abdominal Muscles: Weak or tight abdominal muscles can destabilize the lower back and contribute to poor posture and discomfort. Massage therapy techniques such as abdominal massage and diaphragmatic breathing exercises help relax and strengthen the abdominal muscles, promoting better core stability and reducing lower back strain.


How can massage help low back pain?

By addressing these key areas through targeted massage therapy techniques, people experiencing lower back pain may have significant relief and improved mobility. Additionally, regular massage therapy sessions can help prevent future episodes of lower back pain by promoting relaxation, reducing muscle tension, and improving overall musculoskeletal health.

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