Knead a Massage? The last few articles I have written been about self-care in the COVID era and using percussion massage guns for tension and pain relief. However, there is much more to a massage than just percussion/tapotement. We have the big five strokes in Swedish massage: effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, vibration. Today, we are going to look at a massage tool that uses petrissage. There are the tremendous benefits of petrissage, or kneading. NAIPO recently sent me a sample of a Back Massager, to try out. Here are my thoughts about this self-care massage tool.
First, as massage therapist, I think it is essential that we first talk about petrissage and kneading.
What is petrissage?
The ever-popular tool that everyone has been talking about for the last couple years- the percussion massage gun, uses tapotement. Tapotement is the striking/hitting of the body and muscle tissues. Other massage tools, often cheap ones, use superficial vibration. Rarely do you have a massage tool that uses petrissage, and that is what I was excited about with the back massager.
The origin of the word “petrissage” is the French word “petrir” which can be translated to kneading, or working the pastry dough. In petrissage, both hands are used, working alternately together as one. It may be hand over hand, one hand towards the other, or one hand moving away from the other, but it is always a kind of one-two rhythmic movement. This tool captures this mis movement.
Often, massage therapists like myself, will warm up the client with some nice effleurage, or gliding strokes. Next, we move into deeper petrissage strokes, kneading, lifting, rolling, and wringing the muscle tissues – compressing them against each other. This stroke is the one you go to a massage therapist for. It is the one your spouse is only able to apply to your shoulders for no longer than five minutes. It takes skill, hard work, and stamina.
Benefits of Petrissage
The benefits of petrissage are simple but important. Petrissage increases circulation, reduces muscle tension and pain, and promotes relaxation. Good stuff.
Things I liked about this product
Unfortunately, most massage tools just vibrate. They don’t really do more than make you talk like you are speaking into a fan. They do not address any deep muscle tissue, and they rarely relieve muscle tension. They mastered the replication of deep circular palm pressure. This isn’t an easy thing to do to replicate a massage therapist rhythmically pressing their palm into your body, lifting and kneading the muscle tissue. However, these newer back massagers have nailed it.
You have the option to turn on the heat. The heat button is right below the power button. When on, the pillow has a consistent temp of 109.4 Fahrenheit. It is not too hot, not just warm.
Tip: The heat start automatically turns on when you turn on the unit. This confused me at first. The green button does not indicate the unit is on, it indicates the heat on. Just tap the button under the power button to turn the heat off. You will then see the green light turn off.
The Pillow is much more versatile than I originally gave it credit for when it first arrived. “Great, another tool for the low back.” However, it does far more than just that. Even though it says on the box it is a back pillow, it really is able to address many other areas of the body.
- Neck (The curve of the unit is ideal to fit the cervical curve)
- Between shoulder blades
- Mid back
- Low back
- Abdomen (Combined with heat can provide some PMS cramp relief)
Reverses Direction of Pressure
The direction of the circular pressure changes automatically. The first time it did that, I was not prepared. I did not know I needed that switch in directions of pressure, but when it happened, I was pleasantly surprised. This relaxes muscles further (This is something I will be taking to the massage room with me). I tend to go clockwise most of the time, but now will make a more conscious effort to reverse the directions of more massage strokes.
The unit reverse directions after two minutes Then it continues to switch directions every minute until the twenty-minute mark.
Here is a video of the massager reversing directions at the fifteen-second mark.
Auto shut Off
After twenty minutes, the unit turns off automatically. For good reason too. That way you don’t fall asleep or lay on it all afternoon and overwork an area of the body. Yes, overworking a muscle is a thing, and it is painful.
The unit will sell for $30 to $50,
Limitations and changes I would have made to the Pillow
All tools have limitations. With this tool, there are some things I would have changed.
My kids seem to walk behind the couch and trip over the course and rip it out of the wall because it does not reach very far. I would have liked just a couple more feet. If you plan to use it in the middle of the floor while you play Call of Duty, you will need an extension cord to run this unit.
One of the selling points of this product is the velcro with the adjustable hanger, so you can position this tool in just the right spot for the back. You can move forward in your seat from time to time without it slipping down.
However, not every chair, actually most thicker-backed office or home chairs, will not work with the hanger. The only chair in my house or office it worked with was the dining room chairs I had made by some Amish friends. If you have a captain’s office chair or a big comfy recliner, the hanger will not work. If your office chairs are thin, then this will work just fine with the hanger. I would have preferred some elastic straps, or something that would work with more chair styles.
But, this does not mean you cannot use with a back massager without the hanger. Honestly, I rarely use it and find that when you remove it and use it on the couch or lying down in bed is where this tool really shines. I just prop it up on my pillows in bed or lean back against it on the couch without the hanger 95+% of the time.
If you are a massage therapist and wondering if you could use this in the massage room, I do have an opinion on that. I could see myself plugging this in and putting under a client’s neck while I work on the anterior side of the body, or under a hamstring that is bothering someone (with proper sanitary covers, of course).
But, this tool is really not about the massage room, it is about self-care in between massages. This unit is small enough to take with you on trips, quiet enough to use in your office without bothering others, and simple enough you will kick back at the end of the day to relax. And after five minutes, the tool’s “hands” will not be tired.
I would like to compare this to the other shiatsu pillow without the hanger. If this one is considerably more expensive than the one without the hanger and provides the same pressure, I would opt for the one without the hanger.
On a personal note, this review is fresh off a natural disaster hitting my home in Iowa. Just this week, I have cut down and helped haul dozens of trees, handed out 100+ meals in my community, and taken too many cold showers. I did not have power for eight days. Stress and tension have been high. But, seriously, the first thing I did when my power came on at 8:55 PM last Monday night was plug in my back massager. It felt so good to lay down and relax for a few minutes for some genuine self-care. These are an excellent massage tools to own!
Want Your Own back massager?
If you decide to purchase your very own back massager, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (or whomever you decided to gift it to). The price is $39.99..
Addition Cautions or Warnings
As with any massage or tool, it may not be appropriate for everyone. This should not be used over new scar tissue, inflamed or swollen areas, damaged skin, or after a recent injury or surgery. Talk to a health care professional if you have concerns about using this product and read the product’s warnings.