Rubbing Your Back Makes it Worse - HERE'S WHY ...

Sometimes you should NOT massage a sore lower back - and this is why ....

Osteopaths appreciate how massaging a sore back helps, but there are times when it can make things worse.   Although massaging tight or contracted muscles makes sense, if the area is sore and inflamed, should it be massaged?   Not necessarily ...

Sometimes one of the best things that we can do is to leave that area alone!  Instead an Osteopath works by 'pulling strings'. In other words, we treat areas close to the sore part, but not the sore bit itself. We work on areas that, as Osteopaths, we regard as biomechanically connected.

And guess what? This principle doesn't only apply to sore muscles or a painful lower back, but also to disc prolapses - the so-called 'slipped disc'.  If a disc is bulging, 'prolapsing', 'sequestred' - all of which are terms we use to indicate that the disc is in some way squashed - in this situation one of the best things an Osteopath can do is to take the strain OFF that disc or neighbouring muscles by relaxing other muscles or soft tissues in different parts of the body. 

Sometimes we work on an area that is quite a long away from the site of pain - like correcting a problem in the upper back in order to give the lower back a more balanced load.  As Osteopaths, we are trained to identify areas that are biomechanically tied in to problem discs.  So in order to provide effective treatment, a key part of the osteopathic assessment is to appraise the big picture (biomechanically speaking).

If you have lower back pain, you shouldn't always expect us to massage your lower back - it might be the worst thing that we can do.  But if we don't seem to rub the site of pain, we will give you a very clear explanation as to why not, and tell you exactly how our treatment should help.

Posted by: Joyaa Antares

Joyaa Antares

Joyaa graduated from the European School of Osteopathy (UK) in 1987 and has completed extensive post-graduate studies in osteopathic care and research methodology. Typically, people of all ages and a wide spectrum of complaints come to his clinic. Adults and children present with back or neck problems, torticollis ("wry-neck"), headache, dizziness, and problems in the limbs and joints. Joyaa is not a general physician or a surgeon, but as an osteopath he offers over 30 years of clinical experience with musculoskeletal conditions. In this, he places prime emphasis on good communication, as well as your safety and comfort. He has been a Government-appointed member of the Osteopaths Panel of Assessors, and is currently a Clinical Supervisor to fourth and fifth year Osteopathic students at Southern Cross University.