Reccurring Pain or Injury? Why Massage Doesn’t Work


The term 'back pain' is thrown around frequently nowadays and it really is a very broad term. There are 100's of reasons that can cause you to feel some back discomfort/pain, with very few treatments that actually work in getting rid of it long-term. This article defines massage, its benefits, its restrictions, and why many people assume it’ll fix your problem.

In western civilisation it has been found that musculoskeletal conditions (e.g. spine, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons) cited for 31 million days off work in 2013 (Office for National Statistics, 2014). This has been estimated to cost the EU's economies £200bn each year!  Some would state that there are more of us sitting for long periods which has contributed to these statistics - I'm certainly not going to argue there. Interestingly, it’s been said that ‘sitting’ has become the new ‘smoking’ in relation to hazards to the body - the more sedentary you are the worse your health is. Professor Anthony Woolfe of The Royal Cornwall Hospital has claimed that 30% of UK national disability is due to these conditions, yet so many are avoidable.

What is massage? Simply, massage is the manipulation of muscles, tendons and fascia of the human body.

The many benefits (Physiological and psychological) of massage are:

  • makes you feel so good because there’s a chemical reaction (endorphins release) when your muscles are mobilised
  • it ‘inhibits’ or 'dulls' pain signals to your brain
  • it reduces cortisol levels that leave you feeling relieved of stress
  • you get temporary relief from 'knots' 
  • it assists in flushing out natural waste products caused when muscles are worked/overstretched
  • your joints will feel like they have increased range of movement
  • you just won't feel as stiff

These benefits all sound great, right? However, massage does have its restrictions. For instance, massage won’t:

  • strengthen your back (or anything else!)
  • solve a movement dysfunction
  • completely rid you of the problem
  • stop reoccurring pain/injury
  • address any underlying causes of your pain/injury
  • make you avoid the following negative cycle of events:

               discomfort -> pain -> massage -> relief -> discomfort -> pain -> massage -> relief 

If you’re caught up in the above negative cycle of events it may be time to re-evaluate what you’re trying to achieve. Massage is great for ‘pain management’ and ‘symptom relief’, and is a key player in ridding you of back pain, but it's not going to solve a great deal in the long-term.

At our clinic we see many conditions that massage alone just doesn't solve. These include:

  • sciatica
  • achillies tendinitis
  • plantar fasciitis
  • low back pain
  • stiff back
  • knee pain
  • iliotibial band syndrome...the list is long!

I'm not saying they don't help, but if you’re repeatedly returning to your therapist for the same problem and all you’re getting is a massage, it's definitely time to get off the couch!

For long-term pain relief, massage alone will not work

If you would like to find out what's causing your pain then give us a shout - at the very least it can give you some long awaited answers.