Are you experiencing tension in your back? Try a back massage!
Thanks to the stress of daily life, many people experience some level of tension and discomfort in their backs. You might not even be consciously aware of it most of the time.
So what is a back massage, and how can you get one? In today’s post, we’ll answer these and other questions about this particularly wonderful and relaxing massage technique.
What is a Back Massage?
A back massage, as the name indicates, is simply a massage for the back. Many back massages are likely to be given as part of a Swedish massage, which is the main form of full-body massage.
If you get a full-body Swedish massage, you can expect it to include a back massage. Feel free to ask your therapist if you want to make sure of this.
You may also be interested in something called a deep-tissue massage, which is essentially a Swedish massage but with more tissue pressure. These massages also come with back massages, and they are very relaxing.
Ashiatsu massage, Japanese barefoot massage, is another option for back massage. 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 a back massage.
Benefits of Back Massage
Now that we’ve established what a back massage is, what are the benefits? Why should you think about ordering a back massage?
The answer is that back massage has many of the same benefits as massage therapy generally. As with full-body Swedish massage, back massage leads to improved blood flow and circulation within the body.
Like other forms of massage, back massage 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 massage 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, back massage is one of the best ways to alleviate it.
When you get a back massage or a full-body massage, your body’s heart rate and breathing slow down, which leads to reduced blood pressure and lower levels of stress hormones. This can also lead to better sleep.
If you have a long history of back pain, a back massage is a great way to promote healing and increase your range of motion. Back 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 back massage improves joint flexibility.
You are likely to find that back massage will help you to improve your posture as well. Poor posture produces disproportionate strain on some muscles and ligaments, and the relaxation that back 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 endorphinsserotonin and dopamine, better known as the “feel-good” chemicals. When you experience positive, happy feelings, your brain is dosing on serotonin, and that is exactly what occurs during a great back massage.
With these benefits of back massage in view, let’s look at what happens during a back massage.
The Back Massage Experience
A back massage will generally begin somewhere comfortable where you can lie down. A massage table is common if you have a professional therapist. In general, massage tables will have face cradles so you can lie down and keep your head stable while the therapist works on your back and spine.
As with full-body massages, most back massages involve dressing down and covering with a drape. The reason for this is that massage 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 massage, 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 massage, a deep-tissue massage, or an Ashiatsu massage, but whatever you get, expect it to be relaxing.
You may also have an interest in massage add-ons, such as aromatherapy and hot stones. Aromatherapy is something you can get with any kind of massage: it 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 during the massage to help your therapist tailor your back massage experience to best fit your needs. Remember, massages should be custom: don’t be afraid to make sure your experience is special.
Here at About Touch, we use the power of back massage to help you experience relaxation and well-being. If our site came up when you were looking for a back massage, we’d love to hear from you.