What is a Back Massage?
A back massage, as the name indicates, is simply a massage for the back. Many of these are likely to be given as part of a Swedish-style, which is the main form of full-body.
You may also be interested in something called deep-tissue, which is essentially a Swedish massage but with more tissue pressure. Ashiatsu, Japanese barefoot massage, is another option. The name Ashiatsu means “foot pressure,” and it entails the patient lying down on the table, and the therapist applying pressure with their feet while supporting their own weight with bars mounted across the ceiling. Many people find Ashiatsu to be deeply relaxing because the therapist makes use of their feet to apply a deep, kneading pressure to the tissue.
However, you can also feel free to order a back massage alone. If your back is the only thing you are interested in getting massaged, there is no reason whatsoever to not specifically order one.
Benefits of Massage
Back massage has many of the same benefits as massage therapy generally, including improved blood flow and circulation within the body.
Like other forms, massage for your back works by applying pressure to muscle fibers to get them to relax. If you get a Swedish massage, you are likely to experience a few different techniques for the back portion: long, sweeping strokes to promote relaxation, followed by kneading techniques to deepen the feeling, and then rhythmic tapping, friction, and rapid rubbing to produce warmth and to loosen the tissue.
As we’ve talked about before, this effect is specifically called the “relaxation response,” and it describes an automatic response of the nervous system to massage. As the fibers relax, you will experience a release of tension. If you have back pain, massage is one of the best ways to alleviate it. This can also lead to better sleep.
If you have a long history of back pain, a massage is a great way to promote healing and increase your range of motion. Massage has positive, healing effects on tight, weak, or atrophied tissue, and can help these tissues to recover even after a long period of pain and dysfunction. In some cases, athletes with back muscle strain have found that massage improves joint flexibility.
You are likely to find that massage will help you to improve your posture as well. Poor posture produces disproportionate strain on some muscles and ligaments, and the relaxation that massage offers is good for relaxing your muscles and allowing them to re-align. The benefits of back massage for better posture continue well after the session: with repeated sessions, you are likely to find the problem will go away entirely.
Massage can also lead to higher levels of the endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, better known as the “feel-good” chemicals. When you experience positive, happy feelings, your brain is dosing on serotonin.
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The Back Massage Experience
A back massage will generally begin somewhere comfortable where you can lie down. A table is common if you have a professional therapist. In general, tables will have face cradles so you can lie down and keep your head stable while the therapist works on your back and spine.
Most massages involve dressing down and covering with a drape. The reason for this is that this therapy is more effective when the area being massaged is exposed. However, you should feel free to express your preference to your therapist: it is perfectly fine to get one fully-clothed if that is what you feel more comfortable with.
Once you are lying down, the therapist will begin. As with full-body, they will use a variety of techniques to promote relaxation and help you enjoy yourself. The experience will differ to some degree depending on whether you are getting a Swedish, deep-tissue, or an Ashiatsu massage, but whatever you get, expect it to be relaxing.
You may also have an interest in add-ons, such as aromatherapy and hot stones. Aromatherapy involves the use of very fragrant therapeutic oils to add to the relaxation of the experience.
Hot stones are another popular add-on which many people enjoy. The stones are smooth and flat, and they are heated to promote relaxation of the muscles, but not so hot as to be scalding. This is a common add-on with a Swedish full-body massage.
Whatever you choose, be sure to give feedback to help your therapist tailor your experience to best fit your needs. Remember: don’t be afraid to make sure your experience is special.
Here at About Touch, we use the power of massage to help you experience relaxation and well-being. We’d love to hear from you.