A Full Body Massage is exactly what it says to be, a massage of the whole body, that is, it includes massage work from head to toes. It contrasts with Partial Body Massage treatments, to say, massages that only address certain parts of the body, like for instance, a Foot Massage, Back Massage, Face Massage, or an Abdominal Massage.
Full Body Massage treatments typically take longer than partial body massages, often one to two hours or even longer, while partial massages usually have a duration between thirty minutes and one hour.
A number of partial body massages have a very distinct history, theory and application of their own, such as foot and face massages and reflexology, but many other types are in fact based on full body massages of which only certain parts are applied. For instance, a Thai Head, Neck and Shoulder Massage is basically a subset of a Full Body Traditional Thai Massage. It’s given for quick relief, it can be done with the receiver seated, and it doesn’t need to take too long.
Some partial body massages have, over time, grown to become a complete new treatment modality, often being a blend of various different massage types or treatment concepts. Examples are Thai Abdominal Massage (Chi Nei Tsang), Karsai Nei Tsang Genital Massage, Mizan Abdominal Therapy, which deeply focus on the abdominal, genital and reproductive organs respectively, and are highly therapeutic modalities.
Today, in a world where people have very little time for leisure and relaxation or of taking care of their own health, partial massage modalities are very popular. They take little time and can be “squeezed in,” into a busy schedule. Yet, with, for instance, Thai Massage, Tuina, or Lomi-Lomi, a full body treatment would be the preferred way to address a holistic, complete fashion of work in order to be really effective. By contrast, if someone already takes regular full body treatments, partial massages can be very efficient and effective as a targeted therapeutic treatment.
As said at the start of this post, some partial massages have their own history, concepts and application. In the case of, for instance, Foot Reflexology, the massage works solely on the feet (and often also the lower legs), but the effects of acupressure on certain points of the feet are thought to influence the complete body and mind. In that particular sense one could consider a Foot Reflexology treatment a kind of “Full Body Massage.”
And to conclude, a last remark: mind that both full body and partial body massages are independent of the techniques used, that is, they can be given on a massage table, on the floor or on a chair, with or without oils or herbal compresses, clothed or unclothed, and consisting of stretches, acupressure or any combination of manual massage techniques.