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Massages are known for increasing circulation, relieving tension, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting relaxation. But there’s one body part western massage therapists tend to completely ignore, and this is my plea to change that.

Back in November, I traveled to Chongqing, China for a river cruise down the Yangtze River to the Three Gorges Dam for its 20-year anniversary (more on that trip at a later date). Two weeks prior to the trip, I’d woken up with a crick in my neck that was still painful. Considering that the currency exchange rate was drastically in my favor (a one-hour massage was less than $65), I figured a massage at the spa aboard Chongqing Yangtze Gold Cruises Company’s Yangtze Gold 6 cruise ship would work out the kinks in my neck and back. Turned out, the masseuse relieved the tension in my neck, but I was most appreciative she paid some attention to by, well … butt.

Keep in mind that the therapist and I didn’t speak the same language, so of course there was a bit of a hiccup before the massage began. I thought I was supposed to lie under the blanket that was covering the massage table. Turned out, she wanted me to lie face-down atop the blanket. So you know how the therapist usually uses a sheet to screen you when you’re turning to lie on your back during a massage? Yeah, well that’s not a custom in Chinese spas or at least not aboard the Yangtze Gold 6. So I just maneuvered my mostly naked body above the blanket and had titties “out like what, I don’t give a f—k,” to quote Lil Kim.

Once I was in the proper position, the masseuse tucked the towel she had been holding into the waistband of my underwear and pulled everything down below my butt. That certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, and I was glad I hadn’t completely disrobed. I couldn’t help but picture how absolutely ridiculous I must’ve looked on that table — face down, ass out. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel uncomfortable because this was foreshadowing that a butt massage was likely part of the experience, I knew I could tell her to stop at any point regardless of the language barrier, and I really wanted to part ways with that crick in my neck.

By the time she began massaging my glutes, I was completely relaxed and knew I was in capable and strong, although small, hands. She kneaded, scrunched, and smoothed all the stress and tension from my buttocks, without going near the … um … crack. I didn’t even realize how tight my muscles were until she started relaxing them, and I was happy to have another cheek that deserved attention too. As I fought back the urge to fall asleep, I thought about how butt massages should be a routine part of a full-body massage, as long as both parties are comfortable. When you think about it, the buttocks are the one party of the body that is under strain whether we’re sitting or standing, and therefore deserves as much TLC as the rest of our bodies, if not more.