In the United States, 8 out of every 10 people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. It’s a common problem, so common in fact that a mountain of treatments have been developed to help alleviate the pain. Here, we share a comprehensive look at noninvasive treatment options for low back pain.
During the high spirits of the holiday season surrounded by friends and family, we often set lofty goals for ourselves to start the new year. Goals that are eventually abandoned due to a combination of habit, injury, and stress. Here are three ways to help you achieve those New Year’s resolutions, one of which is getting a Thai massage!
Breaking new habits
Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s the result of guilt from overeating or simply a determination to look different the next time around, the fact remains that it is also one of the most failed resolutions. Losing weight relies on the interplay of exercise and healthy eating, the latter representing the most important factor in weight loss. Unfortunately, it is easy to derail from healthy eating plans. A 2014 PLOS ONE study shows that “Despite resolutions to eat more healthfully after New Year’s, consumers may adjust to a new ‘status quo’ of increased less-healthy food purchasing during the holidays…” The authors offer a relatively simple solution: be mindful in substituting healthy items for less-healthy items and set goals based on pre-holiday grocery patterns.
Resting in between workouts
Working out goes hand-in-hand with weight loss as a common New Year’s resolution, and many of us actually follow through on this resolution during the first few weeks of the new year. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the seasonal demands for gym memberships, our attendance tapers off over the course of the year. One of the biggest contributors to abandoned gym memberships is an exercise-related injury. Most of us ignore or forget to schedule an appointment with our doctor (looking for a doctor in Herndon, VA?) to ensure we aren’t putting undue stress on our bodies. Your doctor will help you reduce the chance of injury by working with you to set moderate exercise goals and ensure you set aside enough rest in between workout days. Building in improved recovery measures with massage is another way. As we wrote late last year, Thai massage therapy has been used by sports players for years, with traditional Thai massage a favored technique for soccer players in Thailand. The study demonstrated improved recovery and fitness metrics across the board for the test group, with the authors postulating that the massage helped by improving flexibility and blood flow.
Relaxation for renewed focus
In our era of the Internet and technology, there is an ever-growing list of distractions out there acting as roadblocks to our New Year’s resolutions. Our hyper-connected society keeps us moving at a breakneck pace and makes it easy to lose track of time that we have otherwise earmarked for important tasks like cooking, cleaning, exercise, and work. Though this could be a time management problem, stress is a heavy contributor. Take a break from your busy day to relax and treat yourself to activities that both relax and get you offline. A Thai massage can be the perfect combination of both.
Your New Year’s resolutions are important, don’t give up on them. Taking on holiday habits, an injury, and stress stops many of us along the way, but it doesn’t have to. Massage those resolutions back into shape.
Traditional Thai massage exists in many forms and one ancillary technique developed from this practice uses herbal compresses or “Luk Prakob,” which has existed in Thailand for hundreds of years. The Thai herbal compress is purported to leverage a heat compress in conjunction with specially selected herbs to combine the benefits of applied heat (to improve blood flow), herbal ingredients (as anti-inflammatory agents), and aroma (to induce relaxation) to give a unique treatment that relieves muscle sprains and joint pain.
A systemic review of the Thai herbal compress was published earlier this year in order to test the efficacy of the technique and determine the full extent of its clinical effect. The authors of the article were able to conclude that the heat application from the herbal compress bestowed the majority of the benefit, with the herbal benefit depending largely on the type of herb used, the preparation, and the purpose. For instance, the consumption of some herbs like turmeric extract is known to be as effective as ibuprofen for treating knee osteoarthritis.
While the efficacy of the topical application of these herbs is still being studied, the authors concluded that the Thai herbal compress could be considered as an alternative treatment option to alleviate certain symptoms from osteoarthritis, muscle pain, and as a treatment of choice to induce lactation. They were also keen on the benefit of the Thai herbal compress for those who need to avoid potential adverse effects of contemporary treatments that use NSAIDs.
Thai herbal compresses are approved and listed on Thailand’s National List of Essential Medicines and are provided for therapeutic and rehabilitative purposes in most of the country’s public health service facilities. For the future, the authors recommended further study on the herbal benefit in addition to streamlining the herbal component through standardization and good manufacturing practices in order to better quantify its effects in studies.
Until then, the Thai herbal compress is a form of integrative and complementary medicine in the United States that is practiced by traditional massage therapists and in centers for complementary medicine.
If you are in the Fairfax, Virginia area, come by one of our Chaan Thai Massage locations to try a Thai herbal compress for yourself, a perfect repose for this chilly winter weather!
Dhippayom T. et al., Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 942378 (2015). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377500/.
Massage has been widely used as a part of warm-up and recovery techniques in sports, with studies published showing the ability for massage to decrease muscle soreness, increase flexibility, improve blood flow, and increase a sense of well-being. Although traditional Thai massage has been used by soccer players in Thailand to help enhance their physical fitness for years, until recently there had been little supporting evidence of such a benefit.
Have you ever wondered why you feel better after a massage? Researchers have sought to answer that question. While the traditional explanation—that the success of the ritual hinges on the practitioner’s ability to change energy flows surrounding the body—may not be a satisfactory answer, it is not completely off base. Scientists are beginning to unravel the science behind touch-based healing.