Types and Benefits of Back Massage

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are many important back massage benefits that can significantly improve your quality of life if you undergo regular massages with a trained practitioner.

Back Massage Benefits

Whether you’re seeking pain relief or an escape from the stressors of modern life, a back massage may be an easy, non-invasive solution to relax your muscles and mind.  [1]

Relieving Muscle Tightness

Do you ever get the feeling of sharp needles through your back muscles or just throbbing muscle pain? Perhaps working behind a computer screen every day leaves you feeling tense, or maybe you’re an athlete and have strained a muscle from an intense workout. Whatever the cause, your back is aching and you need relief. If you’re looking for a remedy that doesn’t involve medication or surgery, you might want to consider getting a back massage, as it has been proven to loosen tight muscles, increasing blood flow and speeding up the healing process for sore or healing tissue. [2]

A man getting a relaxing back massage at a spa

A back massage relaxes muscle tissues and relieves stress. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Reducing Back Pain

A back massage involves a trained massage therapist applying pressure to the back in order to manipulate muscles and skin. The kneading movements provide pain relief to sore, tense and hurting muscles. For thousands of years, people have been practicing the art of massage therapy, believing it its holistic power to heal maladies like back pain. Back massages are gaining more and more traction as a solution to back pain in the medical world. According to a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, conducted by Maria Hernandez-rief et al., back massages can measurably reduce pain, anxiety, sleep issues, and stress hormones. [3]

Promoting Endorphin Release

Back massages are not only known to relieve lower back pain and release tension in the upper back, but they can also stimulate the release of endorphins or “feel good” chemicals to the body, increasing blood flow, improving sleep and helping the body’s natural healing process. [4]

Relief from Stress & Anxiety

Numerous studies have shown that getting regular back massages can improve the symptoms of mood disorders, and can reduce the level of stress hormones in the body. This can aid in the management of anxiety disorders and problems with depression. [5]

Types of Back Massage

There are several main types of back massage.

Swedish Massage

This style involves hand-strokes where the therapist’s hands flow in the direction of blood returning to the heart. Swedish massage is meant to increase blood flow and circulation, while simultaneously relaxing the client in a calming atmosphere. This type of back massage is perfect if you’re new to massage therapy or looking for a treatment to alleviate light to moderate back pain. [6]

Deep Tissue Massage

This more intense variety of back massage focuses on relieving pain in deeper levels of muscle tissue and using more intense pressure in the practitioner’s kneading hand movements. This is a great option for people who suffer from chronic back pain or tension and want a greater pressure level than Swedish massage provides. [7]

Shiatsu Massage

In the practice of shiatsu massage, therapists use different techniques to free tension from the back. The focus is rooted in Chinese medicine, where the therapist hopes to help Qi, the body’s energy, flow freely. Massage therapists apply weight to pressure points on the body in order to decrease stress. They also stretch limbs and joints to aid in pain relief and relaxation. [8]

Hot Stone Massages

When you experience a hot stone massage, you will enjoy the benefits of massage and add heated stones to focus on specific regions of the back where knots form. The heat from the stones can help improve circulation. The combination of hot stones and back massage can lead to relief from pain and a deep sense of relaxation. [9]

Cautions and Contraindications: As with any other activity, it’s best to check with your doctor first if you have back pain to see the cause. Often times, doctors will work with massage therapists in the pursuit of a more holistic care approach. If you are cleared by your doctor to get a back massage, don’t miss out on this noninvasive and affordable method of easing your bodily pain and elevating the spirit.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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