Back Pain Resource Center - massage and body work to help reduce back pain
This category encompasses a tremendous range of options - from basic swedish massage to more esoteric techniques like Rolfing and Zen Therapy as well as self massage techniques. I have really benefited from body work, and I hope that you these reviews will give you ideas about what type of body work may be of interest to you.
Rolfing is a very specialized type of body work, which can be very deep, that helps to get your body to be more balanced and to move in a more natural, efficient manner. My experience with Rolfing has been mostly very positive, but that may be due to my Rolfer who is very knowledgeable and skilled (Cosper Scafidi in Alexandria, VA (703) 836-3678). While the work is deep and can be painful, this type of deep work has helped get parts of my body moving when nothing else worked. Try to find an experienced Rolfer and not one that just wants to do a cookie cutter approach to your problem. (Rolfers are trained to do a 10 session series that many practitioners want to use on everyone for every malady. Cosper, however, spends his time working on my dysfunctional areas, and I really enjoy this approach much more that the 10 step mentality). A note on the reputation of Rolfing for pain - yes it can be painful, but in my experience the pain is very brief, during the massage work itself, and does accomplish results that milder massage hasn't been able to achieve for me. Just breathe into it and it works out ok. Yelling is optional. To find a practitioner see the Resources page.
There are numerous ways to do self-massage, but the couple I have found useful are the therapy cane and 2 tennis balls in a sock. The therapy canes are available at many medical supply stores (or see ads in massage magazines) and allow you to massage pretty deep into the back and hip areas. This really helps me work out the very tight muscles in my lower back and hips. I like the one that I have - it's metal with wooden balls - called the Jerri Cane (I think this spelling is correct). There are essentially duplicate canes on the market made out of plastic, but I find these aren't as easy to use and don't penetrate my body tissue as well. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a supplier for the Jerri Cane in the past few years, so you will have to ask around. If you do find the Jerri Cane, please let me know on my Contact Page.
The tennis balls in an old sock is a neat trick. Just place the balls in a long sock, leave a bit of room, and tie off the sock in a knot. Then slowly roll on the balls - you can either roll over them while lying on your back or against them in the back of your chair. Be careful to leave room for your spine - so keep the balls apart so they roll on the side of your spine. Also, don't go too deep at first, try it softly at first and increase the pressure if your muscles feel ok and you seem to be getting benefit out of it.