Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Low Back Pain Massage

Crane hand position from Kung Fu and Karate

As a follow up to yesterday’s post about low back pain from sitting…please remember to take a break after every 20 minutes.

If you can, get out of the chair, walk about…do a little back massage followed by a few easy stretches. Ease the workload on your muscles. They’ve held the same position for the last 20 minutes. By not giving your muscles a break, you’ll experience “blood pooling”. And pain!

You can do the following massages and stretches even if you’re still in the chair –


1.  Slowly massage the back of your neck and your shoulders. While massaging, slowly stretch your neck from side to side. Doing this helps alleviate any tension in that area that could distort spinal alignment, placing pressure on the lower back. Especially if one shoulder is tighter than the other.

2.  Slowly lift your shoulders up. Hold for a while. Stretch your shoulders backward. Hold. Stretch your shoulders forward. Hold. You’re rebalancing your upper back which helps with lower back alignment.


I recommend these three simple massages. Again, you can perform these at your workstation.

1.  Clench both hands into fists. Slowly and gently rub up and down both sides of the spine. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE SPINE. This massage warms stiff muscles, encourages fresh blood flow, soothes the nerves and reinvigorates the erector spinae muscles.

2.  Curl your hands into the crane hand position (as in the photo above). Place the back of the wrists against your back with the fingers pointing away from you. Draw the back of the wrists along the  sides of your spine upward from the lower back. This is a beautiful little massage that helps stretch and rebalance the muscles along the spine.

3.   I’ve left the more complex massage until the last. Anchor your hands to the sides of your back with your thumbs. Slowly draw downward circles with the tips your fingers.  

Begin each circle by sliding your fingers downward. This invigorates the muscles…the next part of the circle pulls the muscles outward. This opens the muscles up  and allows them to breathe…then slide the fingertips upward. This action helps to support the muscles…then slide the fingertips back toward the spine. This “kneads” the muscles like dough.

As you can see, one circle serves 4 purposes. Slowly massage downward from mid to lower back in consecutive circles.

WARNING – Never stretch by twisting your lower back from side to side while you’re sitting in the chair. The weight of your torso is still pushing you spine into the chair. Plus your muscles are tight and under strain. Can you imagine the damage you could do?

NO ERGO CHAIR? – modify your seating arrangement by placing a cushion between your back and the chair. I’ve seen people place a tennis ball along one side of the spine, leaning back against it. I’ve tried this and it feels great! Place the tennis ball on one side then switch over to the other side for balance.

I’ve also seen people control the ball by placing it in a long stocking and then draping the stocking down over the back of the chair. Of course the use of stockings and tennis balls all depends on your office environment!

Whatever you do, be proactive. Check with a doctor to find out if the chair is the real reason for your pain. Massage and stretch, massage and stretch. Make this part of your work day!

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