Analyzing the patterns of daily occupational performance of many people, we will come to the realization that postural deficits and instabilities are far more practiced than proper biomechanics, one of the main reasons why a person’s back hurts during prolonged periods of activity. Nothing to worry about though, because a lot of massage therapies have been developed to alleviate pain due to occupational strain. Massage, being one of the oldest forms of medicine, has gone a far road of development in both East and West. Even though massage is usually applied to the skin and skeletal muscles, the intervention often targets more superficial and deeper tissues.
The Swedish system primarily influenced what appear today as types of Western-style massage. The classification of these methods is according to whether the focus of the force is channeled by hands moving over the skin, the muscle is compressed by repetitive blows by the hands, soft tissue is compressed between the fingers or the palms of both hands, or shearing stresses are created at tissue interfaces below the skin. These methods can alternately be applied if a person’s back hurts, and shall be discussed in greater detail.
Effleaurage, also known as stroking massage, utilizes oil or powder in order to decrease the friction between the masseur’s hand and the patient’s skin. Many applications require the palm of the hand to be used rather than the fingers. The masseur must maintain his or her hand in contact with the patient’s skin all throughout the stroke. There are generally two types of stroke; The superficial stroke when the compressive force is light, and the deep stroke if heavy. Superficial strokes affect the cutaneous receptors so they can be applied in any direction, while deep strokes are able to mobilize fluids, therefore, the direction of these strokes should follow venous and lymphatic flow. Almost all massage therapy techniques for back hurts incorporate effleurage because it is used to induce initial relaxation and trust of the patient, to do an overall check of tight areas, and work the problem step by step. Effleurage generally works by the displacement of fluids as a result of applying sequential pressure and compression over contiguous soft tissues.
Petrissage or kneading massage, on the other hand, involves taking the underlying skin and muscle in between the fingers and the thumb or the two palms of the masseur. While the tissue is entrapped, the hands move in opposite circular motion, the movement perpendicular to the direction of the compression. The pressure should be enough so that the skin can be mobilized over the tissue, however, it remains uncertain among many masseurs whether their hands must also move in relation to the skin. Like effleurage, fluid is mobilized in this technique.
Another Western massage is known as tapotement or percussion massage, where the practitioner uses rhythmic, gentle and rapid blows to strike the soft tissues of the patient in order to alleviate pain from back hurts. Typically, the frequency of striking occurs at three times per second. Specific methods of application are named depending on what part of the hand is used. When using the back of the fingers, it is called hacking; the hypothenar eminence is called beating, the palmar surface of all fingers slapping, and the pads or tips of fingers called tapping.