• 4 Reasons Your Pain Comes Back After a Massage

     

    pain relief wanted

    I wish that I could guarantee every massage client that once I relieve their pain, it won’t come back. Sadly, I can’t do that. That’s because pain can have many and sometimes multiple causes. The likelihood of the pain returning depends entirely on the cause(s).

    For instance:

    Sometimes you sleep funny and wake up with a stiff neck. It usually works itself out by lunchtime and you’re good to go the rest of the day. When it doesn’t work itself out, you probably get a massage and that takes care of it. Until the next time you sleep funny. The cause and effect here are easy to see: Sleep funny, get pain in the neck. You wouldn’t expect a massage to prevent future neck pain if you spend all night sleeping on it wrong sometime in the future.

    But…

    Let’s say that over the course of several months or years you gradually lose the range of motion in your neck (how far you can move it in any given direction) until one day, you’re checking your blind spot while driving to work and BAM you’re hit with a neck spasm that takes your breath away and now you can’t turn your head at all.

    When it’s written out all nice like this it’s easy to see that there was a definite lead up to the spasm. But real life doesn’t have a nice, neat write up that we can follow back to the cause. Most of the time we don’t notice a small reduction in the amount we can move and our body gets used to not being able to move as far as it used to. At some point it will even start recruiting other muscles to help do the job of the one(s) that aren’t pulling their weight. At some point you may realize that you can’t move in one or more directions as far as you think you should, but if it doesn’t hurt it’s easy to think that it’s not that big of a deal. Nothing could be further from the truth, since failure to deal with it can lead to muscle spasms and an inability to move in one direction or another.

    In these cases, chances are good that a massage will relieve your pain and increase your range of motion. Whether the pain comes back, however, is entirely dependent on what caused the problem in the first place.

    Here are 4 common things that will cause your pain to return again and again, no matter how much massage you get. I’m going to stick to my neck example for the sake of continuity but rest assured, these 4 work their “magic” all over the body.

    1. Stress – When you’re stressed, your body’s normal response is to tighten the neck and shoulder muscles to make the front of your neck a smaller target for that proverbial saber-toothed tiger you need to either fight or run away from. This brings your shoulders forward and your head down and forward, causing your neck, shoulders, and upper back to hurt. If you don’t get a handle on your stress by either reducing the amount of stress you have or by finding better ways of handling it, your pain will keep coming back.
    2. Posture – Do you spend most of your day with your head forward driving, looking at a computer screen, or playing with your phone or tablet? Maybe you spend a good deal of time looking down at a desk, students, or a massage table. When you get home, do you spend several hours watching TV, playing video games, or working on your laptop? Whenever you spend a great deal of your time with your head, or any other body part, out of a neutral position you’re going to eventually end up with an altered posture in everything you do.
    3. Ergonomics – Where is your computer monitor in relation to your desk chair?  Do you use a lap desk when working on your laptop while sitting on the couch or easy chair? No matter which type of computer you use or where you use it, you should be able to look directly at the screen. Same goes for your television. Whenever you spend a great deal of your time with your head, or any other body part, out of a neutral position you’re going to eventually end up with pain and loss of function.
    4. Habits – Chances are good that you do a lot of things because that’s how you’ve always done them, usually since childhood. Two common bad habits are to either sleep with a really thick, fluffy pillow when you’re a back sleeper or to  use a flat pillow when you’re a side sleeper. In both cases, your neck won’t be aligned with the rest of your spine which is going to cause one set of muscles to be shortened and another set to be lengthened. Neither is conducive to full, pain-free function.

    If any of these resonate with you, I urge you to pick one to change. Which one can you act on today?

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