Both traditional and more modern hand-held product types exist. Designs straight from the Orient include body sticks and tapping balls, known as bongers, which tapped along the body, provide a Shiatsu-type percussion massage. These back massage products stimulate circulation.
Levels of massage therapy vary as well, from light touch to intensive muscle treatment for pain relief and increased energy. Some back massagers feature a multi-rotational device that glides along the surface of the body, to contour up and down the spine.
Lightweight, portable and ergonomically designed, they also contour to fit the body, promoting good posture and providing a more effective massage. These cushions attach to most chairs and seats in home, office or auto and usually feature heat therapy for tension and stiffness in the lower back. Many people use these back massage cushions while working at the computer or watching TV.
All back massagers provide massage that stimulates circulation and relaxes stiff muscles. Several types feature programs designed for upper, lower and full back. Full size back massagers also offer multiple massaging zones targeted for shoulders, lower back and thighs.
Most back pain is due to overworked muscles, which suddenly contract, or spasm and result in knotty hard muscle areas that cause pain. Versions with built-in heating pads can be especially effective for those experiencing debilitating back spasms or a herniated disc that make even simple actions like sitting and walking difficult.
The effectiveness of back massagers is debatable, as some individuals find them very useful in relieving general back pain and aches, while others believe they cannot be a replacement for a good massage treatment.