Massage and Stretching For Pain Management

By Amanda Jacoby - September 10, 2021

Chances are that you or someone you know experiences chronic pain. This might be low back pain, knee pain, or persistent tightness in the neck and shoulders. September is Pain Awareness Month, so let’s break down some helpful ways to manage this discomfort.
It’s no secret that stagnation and inactivity can greatly contribute to chronic pain, but you don’t have to be a triathlete to find relief. A Canadian study found that there is a direct correlation between physical activity and chronic physical, emotional, and mental pain (Warburton et al 2006). Something as simple as integrating a daily stretching routine can provide effective alleviation of pain, allowing you to move through your day with more ease. Stretching is a safe, accessible option for moving your body daily. Some folks get their stretching fix through activities like Pilates and yoga, which is an excellent way to move the body and increase range of motion. For those of us who need something a little more approachable, stretching on your porch with a warm cup of coffee is just as good! Stretching can increase blood flow, reduce stress, help with depression, loosen tight muscles and joints, and improve your posture. (Pain Pathways Magazine 2016)

A good stretch routine should incorporate your whole body, even if you’re not experiencing pain in your whole body. The key is to hold each stretch for up to 45 seconds for maximum effectiveness. (Pain Pathways Magazine 2016) Remember - stretching isn’t a race to flexibility, so don’t over stretch, only go as far as is comfortable. Move slowly into stretches as well, so as to avoid further injury. Finally, don’t forget to breathe. This is a great opportunity to repeat some positive affirmations for your day while holding each stretch while focusing on your steady breathing.

Another great way to manage chronic pain is with massage therapy. Once viewed as a luxury, massage is now being seen as a necessary method in aiding in pain management. More and more doctors and physical therapists are recommending massage as part of treatment plans. How does massage help with pain? First, let’s consider what pain does to our bodies. Chronic discomfort can affect our sleep, prompting insomnia, and most of us know that when we don’t get enough sleep, our mood and productivity tank. Pain also triggers the fight or flight response of our nervous system, and this constant response causes more and more suffering. (D’arcy-Sharpe 2020) Acute pain can have an extreme effect on our bodies and daily routine as well, though. We’ve all experienced the torment of waking up to what feels like a pinched nerve in our neck. This makes the commute to work painful (and potentially dangerous) as you struggle to check your blind spots, and prolonged desk work only perpetuates the pain.

Some people still subscribe to the theory of “no pain, no gain.” In massage therapy, that just isn’t true. Even a Swedish relaxation massage can have positive effects on your body as far as pain management goes. The relaxing aspect of a good massage can work wonders for folks experiencing insomnia, and a big reason for this is that it triggers the rest and digest response of our nervous system. It tells your body that it can relax and let go of tension. Outside of the relaxing aspect of massage therapy, your therapist can also target muscles that are causing you pain. Through therapeutic techniques, your therapist can manipulate soft tissue and work with your muscles to relax and loosen up that tension. Again, this does not have to be painful. It’s important to always check in with your therapist and let them know if the pressure is too much or too little.

So, as you can see, pain management doesn’t always have to mean that you need to begin training for a marathon or see a large team of health care providers. Incorporating a solid stretch routine and regular massage therapy are great options for moving your body and reducing pain. Check out our website or give us a call to book a chair massage event, stretch class, or restorative yoga class for your office or event today! For our Denver locals - come visit us in RiNo or Highlands for a therapeutic massage with a CBD pain cream upgrade or a private restorative yoga session. We can’t wait to help you feel better!

Warburton, et al. March 14 2006. Canadian Medical Association Journal. Health Benefits of Physical Activity: The Evidence.
Pain Pathways Magazine. September 1 2016. The Important Benefits of Stretching for Pain Relief
D’arcy-Sharpe, Ann-Marie. February 21 2020. Pathways. How Can Massage Therapy Treat Your Chronic Pain? 
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