No back pain is the best kind of back pain, but low back pain can be debilitating. And it’s an issue that many individuals face. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, low back pain is the second most common cause of disability in U.S. adults—and a common reason for lost workdays. Luckily, easing tension and pain in your lumbar spine can be possible with back massagers. (Also, here are some surprising massage health benefits.)
“For the most part, massagers are very safe and banal,” says Brian A. Cole, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Englewood Spine Associates in Englewood, New Jersey. “A massager is a great tool that can be used to treat a back condition and/or injury. I have never met anyone with a bad experience using a massager.”
How do they work? The premise behind a massager is that it stretches the muscles, increases blood flow, and helps lessen cramping and spasms, explains Dr. Cole. Stretching almost always helps an injury.
There are some people who may need to take some precautions before powering on one of these massage tools. “Be careful if you have a bleeding disorder or taking blood thinner medication,” warns Dr. Cole. “If you start to massage and are not careful, you could cause internal bleeding. The muscle is more prone to create hematomas.”
Cameron Yuen, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City, agrees that you will want to consult with your healthcare professional if you have active malignancies or a problem with blood clotting. “You will want to steer clear of sensitive areas, especially around the neck, and you shouldn’t use them over joints,” he says. “If you use them with common sense, they are great tools with very little concern of overuse.”