Gentle techniques addressing the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum that offers effective relief for headaches, TMJD, back and neck pain.
Cranial sacral therapy (also known as cranio-sacral therapy) is a gentle, noninvasive form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum. The goal is to release compression in those areas which alleviates stress and pain.
Cranial sacral therapy seeks to restore the natural position of the bones and can decrease stress from chronic injuries as well as provide relief from migraine headaches, neck and back pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (the inflammation of the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull) and more.
Deep Tissue is similar to Swedish massage, but the technique focuses on the deepest layer of muscles to target knots and release chronic muscle tension.
Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints).
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people’s blood pressure fell after a single 45 to 60 minute deep tissue massage. Additionally, a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage modalities like deep tissue reduce stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.
Geriatric massage relieves anxiety and depression while helping maintain and improve overall health in elderly clients.
Geriatric massage therapy is designed to address the specific needs of the elderly population. This type of massage for the elderly uses gentle and light application of massage techniques and can include passive stretching and a light oil or lotion to permit your muscles to be worked on without causing excessive friction to the skin. These techniques can help enhance blood circulation, combat depression, improve balance and flexibility, reduce the pain of arthritis, increase joint mobility, improve posture, and encourage overall well-being.
Geriatric massage can be especially helpful for maintaining and improving overall health as we age. It also has been shown to relieve anxiety and provide comfort, especially to touch-deprived elderly clients.
Hot stone massage therapy reduces tension, eases muscle stiffness and increases circulation. Sessions promote deeper muscle relaxation through the placement of smooth, water-heated stones at key points on the body.
The premise behind hot stone massage therapy is that the direct heat of the stones relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist access to their deeper muscle layers. Combining hot stone protocols with a full body massage provides a very healing and effective experience. The hot stones also expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body. The hot stones have a sedative effect that can relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation.
Using hot stones during a massage can:
Provide relief from pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic conditions
Decrease pain and muscle spasms
Reduce chronic stress and tension
Increase flexibility in joints, aiding in easier mobility and movement
Relieve pain and tension created by strained and contracted muscles
Traditional Lomilomi practitioners use the palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet, even sticks and stones. It may be performed with or without oil or lotion. Lomilomi practices varied by family, traditional region and island. Traditional Lomilomi always includes work with the gastrointestinal area since the word for colon in Hawaiian is “Na’au”, which also means a person’s soul or heart. Hawaiian Lomilomi also covers cultural and philosophical practices such as essence of Hawaiian culture, conflict resolution, physical and emotional cleansing.
Authentic traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi is conducted with prayer and intention and requires years of study and practice. As this is an ancient Hawaiian practice, elders refuse to be regulated by the state or tested under Western medical standards, and as such, will not usually practice in modern spas.
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which is intended to encourage the natural drainage of the lymph from the tissues space body.
According to a lymph system article (http://www.jonbarron.org/article/optimizing-your-lymph-system) by Jon Barron of the Baseline of Health Foundation, lymphatic massage can increase the volume of lymph flow by as much as 20 times, vastly increasing the system’s ability to remove toxins and infectious materials. Studies have found lymphatic drainage massage to be a medically beneficial form of physical therapy for a range of lymphedema-related problems.
Massage for pregnant women that can reduce stress and promote overall wellness by relieving many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling).
Sideline positioning with supportive, soft cushions is used to alleviate the extra strain on the lower back and pelvic areas when the pressure of massage techniques are applied. Depending on where a woman is in her pregnancy, a massage therapist may utilize massage techniques like reflexology, Swedish massage or other techniques that address individual requests and needs.
Reflexology applies pressure to areas in the hands and feet called “reflex zones”, which relieves stress, addresses conditions of the feet and ankle and promotes overall relaxation.
Foot Reflexology massage can be a deeply relaxing and therapeutic modality for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, ankle injuries or even everyday work and play.
Reiki is a form of therapy that uses simple hands-on, no-touch, and visualization techniques, with the goal of improving the flow of life energy in a person.
Reiki (pronounced ray-key) means “universal life energy” in Japanese, and Reiki practitioners are trained to detect and alleviate problems of energy flow on the physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
Reiki claims to provide many of the same benefits as traditional massage therapy, such as reducing stress, stimulating the immune system, increasing energy, and relieving the pain and symptoms of health conditions. Practitioners have reported success in helping patients with acute and chronic illnesses, from asthma and arthritis to trauma and recovery from surgery. Reiki is a gentle and safe technique, and has been used successfully in some hospitals. It has been found to be very calming and reassuring for those suffering from severe or fatal conditions. Reiki can been used by doctors, nurses, psychologists and other health professionals to bring touch and deeper caring into their healing practices.
Shiatsu in Japanese means “finger pressure”; it is a type of alternative medicine consisting of finger and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques.
Developed in Japan, Shiatsu incorporates techniques of Japanese traditional massage (known as anma), acupressure, stretching, and Western massage. It has a strong reputation for reducing stress, relieving nausea and vomiting, improve circulation and boost the immune system. Some people use it to treat diarrhea, indigestion, constipation, and other disorders of the gastrointestinal tract; menstrual and menopausal problems; chronic pain; migraine; arthritis; toothache; anxiety; and depression. Shiatsu can be used to relieve muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain. It also appears to have sedative effects and may alleviate insomnia.
Sports massage therapy is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete’s sport of choice. Focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements.
Sports massage therapy can be used as a means to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or after an event. Athletes have discovered that specially designed sports massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries, decreases muscle soreness and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance.
One of the key benefits of Sports massage therapy compared to other modalities is its ability to target muscle-tendon junctions.
Swedish massage therapy is what comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body.
This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. This type of massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension. Additional Swedish massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching.
Thai massage is a system of massage developed in Thailand, and influenced by the traditional medicine systems of India, China, and Southeast Asia, as well as by yoga.
Traditionally, massage clients wear loose, comfortable clothes and lay on a mat or firm mattress on the floor. A variety of yoga-like positions may be used during the course of the massage, but deep static and rhythmic pressures form the core of the massage.
A full traditional Thai massage session typically lasts two hours or more, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body; this may include pulling fingers, toes, ears, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient’s back, and manipulating the recipients body into many different positions. There is a standard procedure and rhythm to the massage, which the practitioner will adjust to fit each individual client.
The claimed benefits of Thai massage are many, including relief from multiple ailments ranging from asthma and migraines to sprains, bruises, and anxiety. Further benefits include the relief of physical and emotional tension, ameliorated sleep, improved flexibility, a greater awareness of body and mind, and a release of blocked energy.
Trigger Point Therapy is specifically designed to alleviate pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release, and to re-educate the muscles to perform pain-free habits.
A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may reduce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache.
In trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.
The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. After several treatments, the swelling, stiffness and pain are reduced, range of motion is increased, tension is relieved, and circulation, flexibility and coordination are improved.
Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.
Glossary of Spa Terms
A pressure point stimulated in acupressure. Also known as a meridian.
Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as in acupuncture, but are stimulated with finger pressure instead of with the insertion of needles. Acupressure is used to relieve a variety of symptoms and pain.
Aromatherapy uses fragrant oils extracted from herbs, flowers and fruits to naturally enhance the benefits of massage.
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old Eastern Indian medicinal philosophy that literally translates as “science of life” from the ancient Sanskrit words “ayur” (life) and “veda” (knowledge or science.) In Ayurveda, health is a state of balance between body, mind and consciousness. In the U.S., Ayurveda is considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
The goal of Ayurveda is detoxification and restoration of one’s overall balance. Ayurveda Treatment includes a prescribed diet, yoga, meditation, and massage to prepare the body for elimination of waste. Ayurveda spas should offer a true Avurvedic health experience, with trained Ayurveda practitioners, and authentic treatments.
A generic term for the use of touch (e.g., massage, deep tissue manipulation, movement awareness, energy balancing, exercise, and others) to either improve bodily structure and function (e.g., circulation and relaxation), or as a therapeutic modality to reduce pain and heal damaged musculoskeletal units. Central to all forms of bodywork is the belief that there are blocks in the flow of energy and fields that indirectly cause disease, and which, when unblocked, result in a return to the state of health.
Cold water that is poured onto a bather in a shower-like or waterfall-like stall, or a cold plunge pool.
A day spa is a business which provides a variety of services for the purpose of improving health, beauty and relaxation through personal care treatments such as massages and facials. At a day spa, you drop in or schedule appointments for services like massage, facials and body treatments. Day spas offer services exclusively on a day-use basis.
A destination spa’s sole purpose is to help you lead a healthier lifestyle through spa treatments, exercise, and educational programming. Usually a minimum stay of two nights is required, some have minimum stays of three or seven nights. Spa cuisine (always healthy and beautifully presented; can also be organic and local) is served exclusively.
Detoxification or detox programs at a spa are designed to rid the body of toxins such as the body’s own waste products, dietary toxins like alcohol and caffeine, environmental pollutants and psychological toxins like stress. A variety of techniques are used to detox the body including spa treatments such as body wraps, fasting, colonics and specialized diets. Ayurvedic treatments are famous for their detoxification programs.
In Ayurvedic medicine, doshas refer to each of three energies believed to circulate in the body and govern physiological activity. From the Sanskrit “doṣa” literally meaning ‘fault, disease.’ The three doshas are Vata (active mind and body), Pitta (organized mind and body) and Kapha (methodical mind and body). Typically, we are dominant in one of the three doshas and each of us has a unique mix which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics.
Also known as skin care specialists and facialists, estheticians provide a variety of services, procedures, products, and consultations to help improve and maintain the appearance and health of the client’s or patient’s skin.
A medical esthetician is specialized in facial skincare and are often closely associated with dermatology. Aestheticians must complete a training program that is accredited by the State Board of Cosmetology. Additionally, all states except Connecticut require a certification exam for licensure. Specific requirements for aesthetician licensure and certification vary by state.
A hotel spa is located within a resort or hotel. It offers spa services, fitness classes and spa cuisine alongside more regular food fare that’s not necessarily healthy. Hotel spas cater to hotel guests, but usually non-guests can also use the facilities when they book treatments.
Also known as a Jacuzzi or spa, a hot tub is a large tub or small pool full of heated water and used for hydrotherapy or pleasure. Some have jets for massage purposes. In contrast to a typical bathtub, a hot tub is designed to be used by more than one person at a time. Also, the water is not changed with each use, but is kept sanitary using methods similar to those used for swimming pool sanitation.
A manicure is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the fingernails and hands performed at home or in a nail salon. A manicure consists of filing, shaping of the free edge, treatments, massage of the hand and the application of polish.
Massage therapy is a relaxing treatment that uses a variety of gliding, kneading and cross-fiber friction strokes to work the muscle tissue, releasing tension and improving circulation. Massage therapy from licensed, professional massage therapists provides health and wellness benefits ranging from the reduction of tension and anxiety, to pain relief and pain management, to the boosting of the immune system.
A Med Spa offers treatments that require a doctor’s supervision such as laser resurfacing, injectables such as Botox and dermal fillers, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. A Med Spa can also offer spa treatments such as massage and facials.
A mineral spa is a resort developed around naturally occurring mineral springs. Mineral springs are naturally occurring springs that produce water containing minerals, or other dissolved substances such as salt or gases, that alter its taste or give it a purported therapeutic value.
Paraffin wax is an emollient approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment to soften and smooth skin. Paraffin wax is a mineral wax derived from petroleum. It has a low melting point, which means that it melts at a temperature cool enough to safely immerse your skin. Paraffin wax treatments have become popular physical therapy for people with sports-related injuries, arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Because paraffin wax treatments are a form of heat therapy, they’re often used for muscle, tendon and ligament ailments. As with conditions like arthritis, they increase blood flow, improve joint stiffness and reduce pain. They’re also used to treat bursitis, tendonitis, sprains and pulled muscles.
A pedicure is a way to improve the appearance of the feet and the nails. It provides a similar service to a manicure. The word pedicure refers to superficial cosmetic treatment of the feet and toenails. A pedicure can help prevent nail diseases and nail disorders. Pedicures are done for cosmetic, therapeutic and medical purposes.
A sauna is a small room or house designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions, and high heat makes bathers perspire. The primary benefits of a sauna is that it induces sweating, and perspiration helps to rid the body of waste products. Sweating mobilizes toxins stored in body fat and enhances the elimination of them. Secondary benefits to sitting in a sauna include increased/improved blood flow and circulation (which helps to lower blood pressure), alleviation of chest congestion, and relief from muscle pain and stiffness.
Scrub treatments exfoliate the skin using a variety of ingredients or tools. Good spas will use natural ingredients like sugar or salt in their scrubs. Sometimes a dry brush can be used. Scrub exfoliation is usually the first step in a body treatment and is then followed by a massage with lotion or oil to moisturize the skin.
The best spas develop their own special treatments, designed to highlight their local area, surroundings or unique spa amenities and utilize the best ingredients for those treatments.
For example, a high-end spa situated on a mineral spring would use that mineral water in several of their signature treatments, spas located near the coast or a special water source (like a waterfall) will incorporate a treatment outside near the special feature, using ingredients from that area.
Signature treatments can also feature local traditions and ingredients, so they may also be called “experiences” or “rituals.” Signature spa treatments tend to last longer and cost more than the usual massage or facial.
Skincare in spas usually refers to treatments for the face, as opposed to body treatments. Facials are the basic treatments in skincare, and med spas will offer treatments requiring a doctor’s supervision like laser therapy, microdermabrasion and injectables.
A steam room is an enclosed space with large amounts of high-temperature steam, creating a high-humidity environment. People sit in this room in a similar way to a sauna (conversely a hot, but dry atmosphere), for relaxation and purported benefits to health and well-being. The steam room around the world is also known as Turkish Bath (Hamam) and Banya (Russian steam room).
A Turkish bath (known as a hamam in Turkish) is the Turkish variant of the Roman bath, steam bath, steam room, or Russian banya, distinguished by a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam.
A traditional Turkish bath starts with a relaxation in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air, allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room (known as the hot room) before they wash and splash themselves with cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation.
In Western versions, the hot air in the Turkish bath is dry, not steamy like in an Islamic hammam. Also, Western Turkish bathers will often take a plunge in a cold pool after the hot rooms.
Waxing is a form of semi-permanent hair removal which removes the hair from the root. There are two main types of waking: strip waxing (soft wax) and strip-less wax. Both involve spreading wax thinly over the skin and hair, then ripping it off against the direction hair growth. Both methods can be painful, but strip-less waxing may be less painful and a better option for people with sensitive skin.
A wet room in a spa is a room in which treatments using water are performed. The entire room is designed to handle sprays of water, and the floor inside the wet room is like a shower floor with drainage and tile. Typically, a wet room has a cushioned table (similar to a massage table) in the middle for the client to lay on while receiving a treatment. The clients are rinsed off with a set of fixed sprays that can be positioned above the table (sometimes known as a Vichy shower), and/or handheld sprays (similar to handheld shower heads) that the therapist can control more carefully.
Body wraps at a spa involve covering a client in a mask made out of clay, mud, algae, seaweed, lotion or cream and then wrapped for a short period of time. Then the product is rinsed off, and the treatment usually ends with an application of a moisturizing product like lotion or oil.
Body wraps that use algae, seaweed, mud or clay are detox treatments that help rid the body of toxins through metabolic stimulation. Body wraps using shea butter and rich lotions are hydrating treatments geared towards softening the skin.
About the Author
How Do We Score Spas?
Sign Up for Spa News & Promos
About Spa Manners
We believe that going to the spa is not about pampering -- it is about rest, relaxation and recuperation.
The spa is about healing. We want to heal ourselves without using pharmaceutical drugs whenever possible, so we rely on proper amounts of sleep, healthy food, exercise, meditative time sweating in the sauna or steam room and really good therapeutic massages.
That is essentially who we are at Spa Manners. What makes us experts? Collectively, we have been going to the spa for over 25 years.
- New! What's it like at North America's largest #spa? #SpaReview Review: Nordik Spa-Nature, Quebec Canada… https://t.co/w7AyROGMMg 1 year
- Starting to seem so, we think. "Is silence the next wellness luxury?" via @WellandGoodNYC https://t.co/yKOcCGgvEO 1 year
- Is authentic Thai Massage as scary as it looks? Find out in our #spaReview. https://t.co/44Xr7A4PBy #spa… https://t.co/FG45Qyl641 1 year
- Check out @WTGTravelGuide's list of The best hotel #spas worldwide. https://t.co/BjKhOtPLhp 1 year