Shiatsu Therapists (also called Acupressure Massage Therapists) can offer a lot of help with lower back and hip pain relief. The massage technique used by Shiatsu massage therapists is often referred to as acupuncture without needles, because the same meridian lines, or ‘channels of energy’ used in acupuncture are the focus – but thumbs are used instead of needles.
Depending on how tight the muscles are in your lower back, and on how vigorous your Shiatsu therapist is, you can expect acupressure to create mild discomfort during your Shiatsu massage for back pain. Pressure is usually applied with the balls of the thumbs. The procedure works you over from head to foot, without necessarily concentrating on the affected area. For example, if you have lower back and hip pain, the therapist may emphasize working on points in your legs and feet in order to help your back.
Contrary to popular belief, Shiatsu is not an ancient practice but a twentieth-century Japanese innovation. And it does not necessarily involve the therapist walking on your back. Indeed, judging from patient’s feedback and comments, individuals with major back pain should definitely not allow anyone to walk on their backs.
In summary, Shiatsu therapists often provide the interest, skill and health approaches that help provide some lower back and hip pain relief for minor to moderate pain. Many participants also report surprising success with do-it-yourself techniques for ‘pushing away’ pain.
How You Can Treat Your Own Lower Back and Hip Pain
Shiatsu is far too complex a skill and an art form to be mastered from a book. However, many participants found it easy to learn how to use pressure to relieve their back pain themselves in small areas of muscle tissue that feel ‘knotted’. Here is some of their advice:
- For minor to moderate pain from muscle spasms in areas that you can reach comfortably yourself – neck, lower back, buttocks, hips, thighs – push gently with the ball of your thumb for about 20 seconds all around the knotted area. Then apply pressure on the knot itself for 7 seconds. There will be some pain. If it’s more than the slight wincing variety, use less pressure or stop. If the pain is not intense, you can use this procedure twice a day.
- For major muscle spasm that all but prevents you from moving, have someone else ‘press out’ the affected area for 7 seconds in each spot. At times, this can be as effective as a muscle-relaxant injection. And, according to many participants, it is almost always more effective than muscle-relaxant pills when you have specific areas of tightness.
Most Shiatsu therapists refer to themselves as holistic massage practitioners, meaning that their training included more than Shiatsu or Swedish massage. These practitioners were skilled in at least one other kind of deep massage therapy – connective-tissue massage or polarity massage, for example – as well as in stress-reduction techniques. If you get a strong recommendation from a friend about a holistic massage practitioner, you may well benefit by seeing this type of specialist for some lower back and hip pain relief.
Although Shiatsu is unregulated, meaning that anyone can call themselves a shiatsu practitioner, the Shiatsu Society maintains professional standards of practice and training and provides a list of accredited practitioners throughout the country.