Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Recently, I have completed some more research about a common factor that has been coming up with many of my clients: Lower back pain. Aromatherapy massage can release tension, improve muscle tone and help ease and relax this pain, but I wanted to look further into what causes the pain and how I can help my clients even more!
There are two types of lower back pain, Chronic and Acute. Chronic pain means the client has been suffering for about 12 weeks or more. Acute pain is something that has just happened such as a sprain, a fall, the early stages of disc herniation, sciatica, or pain that is directly related to soft tissue damage.
With acute back pain, a client will be advised to rest for at least a week with no strenuous activities until the pain goes, they can put a cold compress onto the area of discomfort but are definitely advised to take the prescribed medication that the GP gives them.
There are many different causes of back pain, but if you think about it, it may not necessarily just be a mechanical injury; psycho-social factors may come into place too. These may be things related to metal health, having low levels of support, low levels of job control, stress, anxiety and depression. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says: “A minority of cases of back pain result from physical causes. Specific causes account for less than 20% of cases of back pain: The probability that a particular case of back pain has a specific cause is only 0.2%”. I found this extremely interesting and started thinking about certain times when I get back pain myself and they are definitely in the more stressful times of my life. The body tightens up in times of stress, this is because a hormone called Adrenaline is released. This hormone is related to the ancient ‘fight or flight’ phenomenon that heightens the blood pressure. Because of this heightened blood supply in our body, the muscles around our spine tense and spasm.
Aromatherapy and Lower Back Pain
Aromatherapy is a great way to help find and ease the original cause of the pain. Aromatic baths and massage with Essential Oils can help prevent pain by reducing stress, improving muscle tone, relaxing tight muscles and improving the general level of well-being. There are many different Essential Oils that I would personally use with a client to help them with their pain, however, everyone is different so I would need to look at the person holistically (as a whole) and find the initial cause of discomfort. Some personal favourites of mine and some oils that I have found work really well for muscle aches and pains in the past are: Lavender essential oil which is one of the most widely studied and popular oils and can be used to help alleviate headaches and muscle pain. Rosemary essential oil has clinical benefits which include pain relief from rheumatic and arthritic pain as well as menstrual cramps too. Black Pepper essential oil is a warming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic essential oil, great for muscle spasms and cramps, and last but not least Peppermint essential oil is a great analgesic (pain relief).
Lower Back Pain
There are, ‘red flags’ for if you have lower back pain in which you need to see a medical professional. These include: unremitting pain, bladder/bowel dysfunction, trauma or severe weight loss.
When a client has low back pain, the important thing for me to do is to encourage them to carry on with their normal everyday activities and possibly even add some more gentle exercise to their lifestyle, making sure they keep moving. This is to help reduce feelings of stiffness, possibly reduce the pain, elevate the mood, maintain muscle strength, promote blood flow to soft tissues, aid lymph drainage and tissue repair and just help the client to feel like they are still in control.
Exercises for lower back pain
-Active Hip Flexor Stretches- this is good for your Iliopsoas muscle in your hip: bring your right leg forward and push your pelvis forward, gently lower your back-left leg so your knee is on the ground and feel a stretch in your hip and lower back as you bend your right knee.
-Lie on a flat surface or bed and slide your right foot up towards your bottom so your knee bends, hold here and then switch legs. If you are able to, you can also lift your knee and foot up towards your chest for an even bigger stretch.
-Posterior Pelvic Tilts- lie on a flat surface and tilt your pelvis so you have a flat back on the ground then back to where you were- repeat these a few times holding for as long as you can.
-Other movements include rocking on a rocking chair which helps provide relief of pain or swivelling on a swivel chair moving your lower lumbar spine, helping rotation of the lower back.
There are many other examples but the main thing is to keep the back moving to help strengthen your lower back.
I have found this research extremely beneficial and now feel more confident in helping my clients further when it comes to lower back pain. I can give exercises for them to practice at home, so their treatment does not end once the appointment is over!
Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions or would like to book an appointment.
A lot of this research has come from the 'Human Kinetics' Webinar