Massage chairs work miracles by reducing lower back pain and improving overall bodily function. If you’ve never tried one, you might be skeptical and rightfully so. Even if they did help, you would need a good reason to justify spending that type of money right?
I myself have experienced excruciating back pain. I was lifting weights in the gym and I thought I had just tweaked my back; boy was I wrong. At the doctor’s office I found out that I actually had a bulging disc which is similar to a slipped disc but not quite as serious. Even so, I experienced significant discomfort, back spasms, weakness, fatigue, and tight muscles in my lower back. I understand just what you’re feeling and I can tell you that massage chairs do in fact help reduce lower back pain.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain:
- Golfing – has been known to cause lower back pain due to the torque you use to swing a club.
- Obesity – Deeper muscles along the lower back don’t get enough blood and nutrients that are usually delivered through the flow of blood that accompanies contractions from exercise. Metabolic wastes, like lactic acid build up in muscles of the lower back causing the aches and pains.
- Stress – Stress, whether mental or physical, can wear on your body and directly affect your lower back. More on this here.
- Lack of Stretching– 1,2,3,4! Stretching helps reduce muscle tension in your back.
Massage Chairs and Lower Back Pain
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 60-80% of U.S. adults suffer from lower back pain. Can you believe that! It’s the second most common reason people even visit the doctor.
Back Pain Statistics:
- Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Source.
- 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some point in their lives.
- Back pain is second only to respiratory conditions as the reason missed work. Source.
- 62% of those with back pain continue to experience discomfort after 12 months.
1. Massage Chairs Relax the Muscles
Many massage chairs come with a heating function that is capable of warming your lower back in minutes. Heat has been proven to increase blood circulation, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach neglected areas of your back. The increased circulation helps reduce joint pain, sore muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If you’re experiencing muscle spasms, you’ll likely notice that the heat function decreases the frequency of your spasms dramatically. Muscle spasms are actually just cramps that are largely caused by poor blood circulation.
2. Strengthened Immune System & Overall Well-Being
Along with blood, the heating function accelerates circulation of lymphatic fluids that remove toxins (waste) from your body. Massage chairs also stimulate the release of endorphins which act as natural pain killers for the body. They reduces stress hormones and allow you to enjoy the brighter side of life.
3. They Improve Skeletal Structure
When your muscles are relaxed, tension on the skeletal system is released. Sometimes your muscles can be so tight that they cause your bones and ligaments to get pulled out of whack. A daily session in a massage chair can significantly improve the alignment of your body not only because your muscles are more relaxed, but there are actually stretching functions that will do the stretching for you. Yes, massage chairs will stretch you out! Not all of them have it so it’s a feature to pay attention to if you’re experiencing lower back pain.
4. Stress Reduction
The muscles in your back are connected to everything else in your body. Tension in one area will affect the alignment of a related portion of the body and so on and so forth. In this case, your lower back is affects your gluts, core, shoulders, and neck. Tension around the neck can cause headaches which can weigh down on your day. Speaking of weight..
5. Weight Reduction
With new technology borrowed from NASA’s Skylab Program, Zero Gravity Massage Chairs have catapulted the quality and finesse of robotic massage chairs out of this world (so cheesy I know). Today’s massage chairs have a suspended position that alleviates bones, joints, and muscles of gravitational pressure. If you’ve experienced lower back pain, you may have noticed that laying down in bed feel so good. These new robotic massage chairs allow you to recline into a position that takes the pressure off your joints while simultaneously working out knots.
6. Consistent Treatment
Anytime you’re trying to improve an aspect of your life, consistency is the key. The same goes with your back. Visiting a masseuse once a week isn’t going to cut it. The more frequently your body is realigned and massaged, it will start to adjust properly. A one-time massage will alleviate lower back pain immediately but the muscles/spine will inevitably return to the same position if the they aren’t rehabilitated on a continuous basis.
Many times back pain is caused by muscles that are pulling your body one way or another to compensate for other problems. Because of this, they’ll want to revert back to improper posture. Having access to a massage chair on a daily basis adds frequency and consistency to your massage regiment, something that will take you a long way on your road to recovery.
Stop Taking Pain Medications!
Sometimes it seems like the only relief is taking pain medication. Every activity in your daily life is affected by lower back pain, everything! Even going to sleep can cause discomfort as you lay tossing and turning trying to get rid of the pain. Pain medications don’t fix the problem, they merely mask it! One thing I’ve learned is that pain medication can lead to physiological dependence as our body expects pain meds to relieve the pain every day. Your body gets used to it and when you miss your dosage, you’ll be sure to feel it that day.
In order to find relief, you have to seek a permanent solution. You have to fix the problem. You can’t use temporary fixes. Unless you have a catastrophic injury, surgery and the likes aren’t going to help you. The solutions are things that YOU can do in your everyday life. Now I’m not saying that massage chairs are the be all end all to your problems; of course not! Repairing back injuries requires a combination of pain relief and strengthening exercise. This is the only way you’re going to get better! Stretching, diet, exercise, AND massage can help you on your road to recovery.
The Benefits of Massage Therapy 4 Part Series
Mike wrote a great 4 part series discussing The Benefits of Massage Therapy. It’s really good and I highly recommend reading it. He explains the benefits to your skeletal system, skincare, and psychological effects as well. Do your research, good massage chairs work! I say good ones because there are a handful of cheap products on the market that don’t get the job done. There are some resources below to help you navigate through the noise.
More on Massage Chairs:
- The Best Massage Chair Under $3000
- The 5 Best Massage Chairs Brands
- The 10 Biggest Massage Myths & Misconceptions
- Valfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism, and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Supply 1985; 11: 1-97.
- European Spine Journal Increased Impact Factor.
About the Author
Jelani Burton is a sports enthusiast who enjoys leading an active lifestyle. He has experience with chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and various other sports medicine treatments. You can find him volunteering at training camps for local San Diego youth.