Top Reasons Why Massage Works for Back and Neck Pain

by Eric Bostrom March 31, 2021 5 min read

Top Reasons Why Massage Works for Back and Neck Pain

Neck and back pain is so common in the United States that one in every five massage therapy sessions is explicitly booked to help alleviate the pain.

If I were to guess, there’s a chance you’re rubbing your neck right now as you read this. It might be so instinctual at this point. I know it is for me. 

Considering how much time the average American spends behind a desk or computer, it’s no wonder why our necks and our backs are crying out in pain. Our bodies weren’t meant to be constantly put under this kind of stress (and yes, it is stress) day in and day out. 

Luckily there’s hope. We don’t have to live with this nagging muscle tension, and the best part is that relief can come very easily. 

How? I’m talking about massage therapy, of course. Whether you go to a physical therapist, massage therapist, or just treat yourself to some massage therapy at home (with the Backmate, of course!), rolling that pain away is such a great feeling.

Massage for Back and Neck Pain

The How and Why

By virtue of being here and reading this, odds are you already know and believe in massage therapy. But if you’re naturally curious like me, you want to know why it works. Different ailments call for different kinds of massages, though the Swedish massage and a deep tissue massage are the two most common types. 

Swedish massage reduces pain with overall gentler strokes, focusing on circulation, relaxation, and soft tissue manipulation. This is believed to increase blood flow, which flushes away toxins.

Deep tissue massage focuses on more aggressive strokes to get deeper into the muscle layers, including the tendons and fascia, to release knots by stretching out muscles

Sure, massages feel great, but both methods go far deeper below the surface than you may know. Chronic tension and inflammation block the natural healing process, and both are a result of repetitive patterns, injury, and stress. 

Massage calms the nervous system and blocks pain signals to the brain. With pain signals reduced, the overactive brain then reduces its alarm signal to the neuromuscular system that is sounding to tense up the surrounding muscles. 

This allows the affected area to relax. Once relaxed, circulation can be restored to the site with increased lymphatic drainage and cardiovascular flow to return normal function and repair soft tissue health.

It’s a domino effect that can work for or against you. Wouldn’t it be best to have a feel-good massage?

Either variety will work for a given ailment, and sometimes people will start with a Swedish massage and transition to deep tissue. It all depends on what you want and need. 

To understand why either variety works, though, it might be better to work backward and look at what’s happening physiologically to your neck, shoulders, and back. Then we’ll see how massage treats those issues. 

  1. Inflammation of the neck: We’ve all experienced a stiff neck or two after a night sleeping in an awkward position. What’s happening is our neck muscles are getting excited because it’s stuck in a position that’s not comfortable. It reacts by shortening and inflaming the muscles as a protective measure. When you wake up, you find yourself with a stiff neck. This generally goes away naturally, but if it’s prolonged or gets worse. Massage therapy can help. A Swedish massage will help promote circulation, while a deep tissue massage will help stretch the muscles back into place. Both are effective in easing neck pain.
  2. Pinched nerve(s): Pressure build-up on nerves by way of joints or muscles typically results from inflammation moving the joint or muscle against the said nerve. However, a herniated disc in the cervical spine is another cause of a pinched nerve and pain in the neck and/or shoulder. How do we reduce inflammation? Massage, of course. 
  3. Back pain: We can’t talk about neck and shoulder pain without including back pain in the conversation. As you know, the spine covers the length of the neck and back, so disc damage or nerve irritation along the lumbar spine can cause similar pain to the back as it does to the neck. The back can also be a victim of muscle strains and spasms as well. Fortunately, this, too, boils down to inflammation. And by now, we know the benefits massage can bring to fight it (of course, ice and heat therapy are two other relief methods I’m an advocate for. But that’s a topic for another time). 

The Backmate Was Made For This

Are we starting to understand the powers at play here? More often than not, the root cause of the neck and back pain comes down to inflammation. Inflammation is reduced (and sometimes cured) by calming the muscles and nervous system to bring them back into their natural state. 

This is the beauty of the Backmate. If you don’t know, I raced motorcycles at a professional level for much of my life, and unfortunately, part of that occupation involves crashing and getting injured.

A particularly nasty crash left me with debilitating neck pain I couldn’t shake off, and I was getting tired of being in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices with a drug prescription in my hand

Long story short, massage therapy was a huge part of my recovery – and still is. This is the reason Backmate exists. It’s the perfect tool to address the aches, pains, and inflammation-causing neck, shoulder, and back pain since you can place it exactly where you need the relief. Better still, you can remain relaxed while rolling the pain away, too. 

The beauty of the different attachments – and the fact you can rotate the head – is that you can target the exact area you need. Placing the rollers at the base of the neck and shoulders and rolling for a few minutes will ease away the tension headaches and shoulder pains we experience from sitting at desks all day and crunching our shoulders. 

Place the Backmate above shoulder level and point the rollers straight down or horizontal, and you can target a massive swath of muscles ranging from the top of your pectorals on the chest side and the shoulders on the other.

It’s an amazing massage to combat tech neck and roll away tension, stress, and yes, pain. Better still, I’m not aware of any other method of targeting this area that’s as easy as this.  

Of course, Backmate is excellent at targeting back pain, too. Whether it’s root is the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine, you simply place the Backmate where you need it and roll away. Its effectiveness can’t be overstated. 

Concluding Thoughts

Understanding why massage feels so good and provides the relief it does is important to use this knowledge to address our pain and work towards recovery in the future.

It’s a similar mentality elite athletes use to excel in their sport. If they know why they can run, jump, or throw better than their competition, they can focus their training on those techniques. 

Recovery and pain relief are no different. Recognizing your pain, then having the knowledge to massage it away will work wonders for your well-being and health. And I’m proud the Backmate can be such a vital tool to help with that journey. 

As always, yours in good health.

-Eric

Eric Bostrom
Eric Bostrom


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