The Spa Menu
What's on the spa menu? Read a brief history about the origins of spa and massage therapy, then scroll down for introductions to a wide range of spa, massage and other alternative health modalities and techniques.
A Brief History of Spa
Although the proliferation of spas in recent years might lead one to think that they are a recent development of the 20th century, the earliest spas -- or "baths" -- date back several thousand years to various civilizations, including Mesopotamia, Egypt and ancient Greece. But it was during the time of the Roman Empire that baths began making the transformations that would eventually lay the groundwork for the spas we have come to know today.
There are several theories suggesting how the word "spa" came into being, including the Latin word "espa," meaning fountain, or the word "spagere," meaning bubble up, to scatter, sprinkle or moisten. Other possible origins include "Salus Per Aquam," Latin for health by water; "Solus Per Aqua," meaning to enter through water; "Salut Per Aqua," Latin for health or relaxation through water; and "Sanitas Per Aquas," for health through water.
Initially, the Romans used natural hot springs and thermal baths as a means of health and wellness, initially for the benefit of wounded soldiers. Over time, however, thermal and mineral baths evolved into elaborate structures, used for socializing and relaxation, as well as continued medical treatment.
Today, spas fill many of the same needs as they did thousands of years ago, including relaxation, wellness and stress relief by incorporating many of the same methods embraced by the ancients such as a multitude of hydrotherapy treatments, body scrubs and massage therapy, one of the most widely used spa treatments.
Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing,
with references in medical texts nearly 4,000 years old. In fact, Hippocrates,
known as the "father of medicine," referenced massage when he wrote, in
the 4th century B.C.: "The physician must be acquainted with
many things, and assuredly with rubbing."
days, in addition to "rubbing," massage therapy, often referred
to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues
of the body that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding,
vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily
the hands, although massage therapists do use other areas of the body,
such as the forearms, elbows or feet. All of the techniques
are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic,
nervous, and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively
influences the overall health and well-being of the client. It's physical and mental benefits include:
- Relaxing the whole body
- Loosening and relieving tired, aching and tight muscles
- Increasing flexibility and range of motion
- Diminishing chronic pain
- Calming the nervous system
- Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
- Enhancing skin tone
- Aiding in recovery following injuries and illness
- Strengthening the immune system
- Reducing headaches and mental stress
- Improving relaxation
- Promoting restful sleep
Click on the links in this table to learn more about various spa-related techniques and modalities. New terms are added on
a continuing basis, so check back often.
|For a list of references and sources used to create this page, click here.
Acupressure - Acupressure is an ancient
form of healing believed by some to be even older than acupuncture. It
involves the use of the fingers (and in some cases, the toes) to press
key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body's natural
ability to heal itself. Pressing on these points relieves muscle tension,
which promotes the circulation of blood and qi
(pronounced "chee") -- the vital energy or "life force"
-- to aid in the healing process.
Acupressure and acupuncture are somewhat similar.
Acupressure is sometimes referred to as "needleless acupuncture," because
both forms of healing use the same points to achieve the desired results.
The main difference is that an acupuncturist stimulates points by inserting
needles, whereas an acupressurist stimulates the same points using finger
Stimulating specific points on the body can trigger the release of endorphins
(chemicals produced by the body that relieve pain). When endorphins are
released, pain is blocked, and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected
area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing.
In acupressure, as with most traditional Chinese medicine
concepts, local symptoms are considered an expression of the whole body’s
When performed correctly, acupressure increases circulation, reduces
tension and enables the body to relax. Reducing tension, in turn, strengthens
the immune system and promotes wellness. However, applying acupressure
too abruptly, or using too much force during treatment, can lead to bruising
and discomfort. Great care should be used when applying pressure to points
on or near the abdomen, groin, armpits or throat. Special care should
be when treating pegnant women or those with recently-formed scars, burns,
infections or skin lesions.
- Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing
in the world. Originating in China some 3,500 years ago, only in the last
three decades has it become popular in the United States.
Traditional Chinese medicine asserts that there are
as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected
by 20 pathways (12 main, 8 secondary) called meridians. These meridians
conduct energy, or qi (pronounced "chee"), between the surface
of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect
on the qi that passes through it. Qi
is believed to help regulate balance in the body. It is influenced by
the opposing forces of yin and yang, which represent positive and negative
energy and forces in the universe and human body. Acupuncture is believed
to keep the balance between yin and yang, thus allowing for the normal
flow of qi throughout the body and restoring health to the mind
Several theories have been presented as to exactly how acupuncture works.
One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal
cord or brain at various "gates" to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture
points are either connected to (or are located near) neural structures,
this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system. Another
theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like
substances called endorphins, which reduce pain. Other studies have found
that other pain-relieving substances called opiods may be released into
the body during acupuncture treatment.
Unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and hair-thin,
and they are not designed to cut the skin. They are also inserted to much
more shallow levels than hypodermic needles, generally no more than a
half-inch to an inch depending on the type of treatment being delivered.
While each person experiences acupuncture differently, most people feel
only a minimal amount of pain as the needles are inserted. Some people
reportedly feel a sensation of excitement, while others feel relaxed.
If you experience significant pain from the needles, it may be a sign
that the procedure is being done improperly.
Alexander Technique - According
to Alexander Technique International, the Alexander Technique "is
a means of consciously attending to how one performs any given activity,
consciously inhibiting one's habitual way of doing that activity, and
then consciously directing oneself in a more coordinated way."*
Developed by Austrailian performer F.M. Alexander in the late 19th Century,
the Alexander Technique is unlike massage or bodywork that is used to
treat specific conditions, illnesses or ailments; rather, it is a form
of education designed to improve one's self-observation in relation to
Instructors of the Alexander Technique, use noninvasive hands-on methods
to assess movement, then educate students on how to become more aware
of their movement and enact specific changes in order to reduce physical
stress on the body and/or improve performance.
* For reference information, visit www.spatherapy.com/spa_menu/aboutspareferences.php
Massage - Like humans, animals are susceptible to injury, debilitating
disease and stress, and can benefit from massage. Massage therapists have
built entire practices around horses (Equine
massage), dogs and cats; some practitioners even work with birds and
In addition to making house calls, therapists that work with animals work
in veterinary offices, and with police departments, animal shelters and
breeders. Working animals -- such as horses, and police and show dogs
-- can benefit from massage on a regular basis; however, massage is also
beneficial for house pets, and can ease arthritis and muscle pain, and
increase flexibility and range of motion. Other benefits include detoxification,
increased mobility, improved performance and decreased anxiety.
- Many essential oils that are derived from plants, herbs, flowers,
and roots have beneficial therapeutic qualities. Aromatherapy involves
the "burning" of essential oils to elicit a desired effect;
for example, lavendar is known to induce calmness and relaxation. When
combined with bodywork, aromatherapy can enrich the massage experience
immensely. A few drops of essential oil can be added to massage cream
or oil and applied to the skin. Professionally trained aromatherapists
also blend oils to treat specific conditions. Only experienced professionals
and/or those knowledable in the properties of aromatherapy should attempt
to blend oils or utilize them in practice, as some oil combinations can
be toxic, while others can burn the skin.
Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy
- Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy was developed in 1995 by massage therapist
Ruthie Hardee. Ashiatsu comes from the Japanese words ashi (foot)
and atsu (pressure), and is an ancient form of bodywork associated
with traditional shiatsu and some dynamics of traditional
Chinese medicine (TCM).
There are distinct differences between Ashiatsu and Ashiatsu Oriental
Bar Therapy. Clients lie on massage tables, while practitioners perform
Swedish massage with their feet by utilizing two
overhead stationary bars to maintain balance and control.
Because therapists can also perform deep-tissue
work using Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, this technique can help
extend a therapist's career by alleviating hand and extremity pain associated
with performing more demanding forms of bodywork.
Asian Bodywork - Asian bodywork is
a general term that describes multiple forms of bodywork that originated
from Asian countries and/or cultures, including acupressure,
chi nei tsang, Five-Element Shiatsu,
integrative eclectic shiatsu, Japanese shiatsu, medical qigong,
shiatsu, Thai massage, tuina,
zen shiatsu and others.
Ayurvedic Massage - Ayurveda is
a practice that originated in India several thousand years ago. The practice
involves balancing the three life energy forces: vata, pitta,
and kapha. Vata is the energy of movement; pitta,
the energy of digestion; and kapha is the energy of structure.
These energy forms are made up of the componenets and combinations of
the five great elements: Space, Fire, Water, Air and Earth.
massage incorporates the knowledge of ayurveda and uses warm oils and
herbs along the specific energy points to help restore balance to the
body. Massage strokes, oils and herbs are selected based on a client's
specific needs; hence, each treatment is highly customized. Benefits of
ayurvedic massage include vitality, stress reduction, and relaxation.
Proponents of ayurveda also report a renewed sense of spiritual connection
and inner peace.
Balneotherapy - Therapies that use water to help a variety of conditions, including stress reduction, improved circulation and tension relief.
Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®
- Developed in 1976 by physical fitness expert Bonnie Prudden, this technique
seeks to eliminate pain by applying steady pressure to trigger
points for several seconds using the fingers, knuckles, and elbows,
and then applying specific stretching and exercise techniques to further
facilitate recovery. Among other benefits, this technique helps alleviate
pain, relax muscles, and improve circulation and flexibility.
Bowen Technique - The Bowen technique,
as its name suggests, was developed over 30 years ago by Thomas Bowen.
It involves the application of light touch and "rolling" strokes
using the thumbs and fingers. This technique works to manipulate the soft
tissues to aid in circulation, lymph
drainage, and release energy blockages, among other things.
Breema - Breema is unusual because it is
designed with both the client and practitioner in mind. Clients lie on
a floor mat and remain fully clothed while the practitioner applies gentle
stretching and holding techniques to support the client's vitality, inner
peace and well being.
Chair Massage - Chair massage, also
known as seated massage, is fast becoming one of the most popular ways
in which to practice. Generally, chair massage is administered onsite
at various locations, including health fairs, airports, shopping malls
and in corporate settings. Clients remain fully clothed and treatments
generally last from 15-30 minutes. Chair massage is usually limited to
the back, neck and arms.
Therapy - Color therapy is a form of energy work based on the theory
that light deprivation leads to dysfunction in the body. Since each color
has its own frequency and vibration, specific colors are used to treat
designated parts of the body. The body, in turn, responds to the vibrational
pattern of the color and corrects the dysfunction.
Connective Tissue Massage -
Connective tissue massage is similar to myofascial
release in that it involves working with the body's fascia, or soft
tissue, to relieve pain, tightness, and discomfort. The idea behind connective
tissue massage is that restriction in one area of the body negatively
affects other areas of the body. Practitioners of this technique "hook"
their fingers into the connective tissue and utilize pulling strokes to
lengthen the area. Benefits include pain reduction, tension relief, improved
mobility and stress reduction. See also Soft-tissue
CranioSacral Therapy (CST)
- CranioSacral Therapy was developed over 20 years ago by Dr. John Upledger,
while he served as a researcher and professor at Michigan State University.
This gentle, hands-on technique involves the craniosacral system -- a
system of the body composed of membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that
surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Practitioners utilize CST to loosen
and release restrictions or "blockages" in the body that can contribute
to pain and dysfunction; removing such blockages improves the functioning
of the central nervous system and body as a whole.
CST is effective at treating a number of problems, including pain, headaches,
central nervous system disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, stress, tension
and more. Proponents of CST also claim that it aids in improving mental
clarity and emotional well-being.
- Massage cupping has been used in traditional Chinese
medicine practices for several thousand years. Practitioners light
an alcohol-soaked cotton ball with a match and insert the lit portion
into a bulb-like glass "cup" in order to create a vacuum. The
cup is then placed in a stationary position upon the body or moved using
gliding strokes, depending on the client's needs. Massage cupping is ideal
for performing deep-tissue massage and
helps to drain toxins, loosen adhesions, facilitate blood flow, and stimulate
Dental Spa - A legitimate dental practice that incorporates various spa treatments, including foot massage, reflexology, manicures and pedicures to help reduce patient stress and anxiety during dental procedures.
Deep-Tissue Massage - Deep-tissue
massage utilizes slow strokes, direct pressure or friction applied across
the grain of the muscles with the fingers, thumbs or elbows. Deep-tissue
massage works deeply into the muscles and connective tissue to release
chronic aches and pains; its purpose is to reach the fascia beneath the
Practitioners must have a thorough understanding of the human body and
have been trained to administer deep-tissue massage, as injury can occur
if the technique is not performed properly. This technique is useful in
treating chronic pain, inflammation and injury.
Endermologie - Performed by a specialist, a form of massage that assists in decreasing cellulite and increasing tone and definition.
Equine Massage - This term refers
to the practice of massage therapy on horses. Benefits include increased
flexibility, injury prevention, pain relief, and improved performance,
among others. (See animal massage).
Esthetician - Someone highly trained in the care and healthy management of the skin. In a spa setting, and esthetician provides various skin treatments primarily on the face, neck and back.
Exfoliation - A process whereby dead skin cells are sloughed or "exfoliated" from the surface of the skin, through the use of loofas, scrubs, brushes, or specialized skin care products or techniques.
Feldenkrais - The Feldenkrais
Method®, named for its founder, Moshe Feldenkrais,
DSc, is a form of education related to body movement. Unlike massage,
which is used to treat specific conditions, Feldenkrais is based on the
notion that replacing bad movement habits (usually learned early in life)
with good ones through increased self-awareness, leads to improvements
in flexibility, coordination, range of motion, relaxation, and a range
of other things.
Instructors teach students in groups, known as "awareness
through movement" classes or in private settings, called "functional
integration" sessions, and use gentle hands-on or verbal communication
to draw attention to positive movement patterns.
Shiatsu - In traditional shiatsu, practitioners
apply pressure to specific points on the body to help release energy imbalances.
Five-element shiatsu incorporates the five-element theory of traditional
Chinese medicine in which the meridians on the body correspond to
specific elements -- Wood, Earth, Fire, Water, and Metal -- and are the
foundation for the balance of ying and yang. When one or more of these
elements is out of balance, sickness and/or emotional imbalance can occur.
Practitioners of five-element shiatsu apply pressure along the meridians
in order to release energy blockages and help restore balance to the body
and enhance the body's ability to heal itself.
Geriatric Massage - Geriatric massage
involves treating the elderly, often in resident-care facilities, and
addressing their needs related to aging, depression and illness. Geriatric
massage is usually shorter in duration, and involves the application of
gentle techniques to facilitate pain relief, relaxation, and an overall
feeling of wellness.
Hellerwork - Hellerwork
is concerned with emphasizing the body's structural balance and realignment
through deep-tissue work and movement
therapy techniques. Hellerwork is administered over the course of 11 sessions,
each lasting 90 minutes. Practitioners spend one hour massaging clients
and 30 minutes in movement education. During the treatment, practitioners
help clients reach an elevated state of self-awareness by using verbal
communication. Hellerwork is useful in treating chronic stress and tension,
as well as aiding in relaxation and extended range of motion.
Herbal Wrap - A treatment in which herbal infused, warmed and moist linens are wrapped snugly around the body, followed by platic sheets, then blankets in order to promote circulation, stress relief and aid in detoxification. Generally, a head, neck and face massage accompany this treatment, which lasts on average between 30 and 45 minutes.
Hydrotherapy - Hydrotherapy involves
the use of water in all its forms (internally and externally) to assist
in the healing process. These water therapies can include the use of a
whirlpool, the application of ice or heat packs, colonic irrigation, steambaths,
body wraps and more. Hydrotherapy is commonly practiced in conjunction
with other spa treatments.
Massage - Infant massage has proved beneficial for both infants and
their families on a number of levels. It is used regularly in hospital
neonatal units and has been linked with helping premature infants gain
weight. Infant massage has been shown to help relieve colic, induce sleep,
promote relaxation, improve sensory integration, and enhance neurological
development, among other things; moreover, the practice of massage helps
build the bond between babies and their parents.
Iridology - Iridology is the study and
analysis of the iris, or the colored part of the eye, which practitioners
believe can reveal information about a person's overall health and/or
tendencies toward disease. Iridology is not used to diagnose; however,
practitioners utilize the technique to better determine a client's health,
lifestyle and nutritional needs. Iridology is used to complement other
natural therapies, including massage, acupuncture
and traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy,
and energy work, to name a few.
Lomi - Lomi Lomi literally translated means "rub." It is
a form of Hawaiian bodywork that developed out of the Hawaiian philosophy
of Huna; that is, a belief in harmony and balance in all areas of physical
and emotional health. Practioners work intuitively with clients using
their hands, elbows, and forearms to apply long, gliding strokes, rhythmic
movements, and pressure. This technique is very nurturing; practitioners
acknowledge that love and a pure heart is important to the process, and
sometimes the session will begin with a chant or prayer. Sometimes more
than one practioner will work on different parts of a client at the same
time to facilitate a feeling of wholeness -- a main component of the practice.
Lymph Drainage Therapy
(LDT) - Developed by French physician Bruno Chikly, this technique
involves the application of light, rhythmic strokes to help alleviate
various conditions related to the body's lymph system. Among other things,
the lymph system is responsible for flushing out toxins and draining fluid,
which supports a healthy immune system. When lymph circulation stagnates,
however, fluid can build up and cause physical problems, such as inflammation,
edemas and neuropathies.
LDT enables practitioners to restore proper lymph flow by using a "mapping"
system to assess congested areas in the body, then apply gentle, pressure
using the fingers and hands on these areas to reactivate proper ciculation.
See also Manual Lymph Drainage.
Lypossage - Lypossage combines several
massage modalities for the purpose of enhancing skin tone and firmness,
and to combat the effects of cellulite. Lypossage is often the preferred
method of treating cellulite, since it provides a noninvasive alternative
to expensive cosmetic surgery. Practitioners of lypossage usually emphasize
the importance of diet and exercise, as well.
Manual Lymph Drainage
(Vodder Technique) - Manual Lymph Drainage was developed in the
1930s by Danish physical therapists, Emil and Estrid Vodder. The technique
consists of light, rhythmic strokes to aid lymph flow and proper fluid
circulation, and help stimulate the lymph vessels to ultimately drain
toxic fluids from the body. See also Lymph
Massotherapy - Massotherapy involves
working primarily with the muscles. Practitioners of massotherapy have
a background in science, but often incorporate other modalities into their
treatments when working with the muscle groups. Benefits of massotherapy
include improved circulation and blood flow, as well as pain management.
Medical Massage - Practitioners of
medical massage have a strong background in pathology, disease, illness
and injury, and the contraindications of specific massage techniques related
to various medical conditions. Medical massage therapists frequently work
under the direction of or at the request of physicians. (See orthopedic
Release (MFR)- Myofascial release deals with the fascia, or
connective tissue, of the body. The fascia is interconnected to every
other part of the body, and actually helps to support the body's very
structure, including the musculoskeletal system. When injury, inflammation,
or physical or emotional trauma occurs, the fascia can become tight and
cause pain and/or restricted range of motion. Myfascial release -- as
its name suggests -- aims to release the fascia and return it to a state
of normalcy by applying gentle pressure to the restricted areas. MFR can
help with a number of conditions, including chronic pain, headaches, and
stress-related illnesses. See also Soft-tissue
massage, connective tissue massage.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) -
NMT is massage applied to specific muscles, often used to increase blood
flow, release knots of muscle tension, or release pain/pressure on nerves.
This therapy is also known as trigger-point
therapy in that concentrated finger pressure is applied to "trigger
points" to alleviate muscular pain.
Orthopedic Massage - Orthopedic
massage combines several massage and medical
massage techniques to treat pain and soft-tissue injury. It focuses
heavily on injury assessment and rehabilitation, emphasizing the importance
of selecting the appropriate modality to treat the injury. Orthopedic
massage is often used in conjuction with sports
Parrafin - Parrafix is a special type of heated wax for the hands and feet, generally used in combination with a manicure or pedicure. Hands and feet are "dipped" into the wax, then set aside for several minutes while the wax cools and solidifies. After a time the wax is peeled off resulting in hydrated and moisturized skin.
Polarity Therapy - According to the American
Polarity Therapy Association, "Polarity therapy is a comprehensive
health system involving energy-based bodywork, diet, exercise and self-awareness.
It works with the Human Energy Field, electromagnetic patterns expressed
in mental, emotional and physical experience. In Polarity Therapy, health
is viewed as a reflection of the conditiion of the energy field, and therapeutic
methods are designed to balance the field for health benefit."* The
technique's pioneer, Dr. Randolph Stone, a strong proponent of the healing
powers of energy, utilized polarity therapy in his pratice until retiring
at the age of 84 in 1974.
* For reference information, visit www.spatherapy.com/spa_menu/aboutspareferences.php
Massage - Prenatal, or pregnancy, massage uses gentle techniques to
help alleviate some of the ailments associated with pregancy, including
lower back, neck and shoulder pain; fatigue; joint tenderness; and stretch
marks. Prenatal massage can help improve circulation, promote stress reduction
and relaxation, and much more. Practitioners should be well-trained in
prenatal massage in order to deliver safe and effective care, and patients
should check with their doctors prior to receiving treatment.
Qi (Pronounced "Chee")
- Also chi, ka and ji. The basis of traditional
Chinese medicine revolves around qi, which is considered a
vital force or energy responsible for controlling the workings of the
human mind and body. Qi flows through the body via channels, or
pathways, which are called meridians. There are a total of 20 meridians:
12 primary meridians, which correspond to specific organs, organ systems
or functions, and eight secondary meridians. Imbalances in the flow of
qi cause illness and correction of this flow restores the body
to balance (See acupuncture, acupressure,
Asian bodywork, shiatsu,
- This technique is based on a system of points on the hands, feet and
ears that correspond, or "reflex," to other areas of the body. Similar
in theory to acupressure, reflexologists believe
that applying appropriate pressure to these points stimulates the flow
of energy, thus helping to relieve pain or blockages throughout the entire
body. A very pleasurable form of bodywork, reflexology is also used to
ease stress and promote relaxation.
Reiki - While not strictly under the auspices
of massage, Reiki (pronounced "ray-key") is often practiced in conjunction
with bodywork. The word Reiki comes from two Japanese words - rei,
meaning higher power or universal force, and ki,
meaning life energy. Loosely translated, Reiki means universal or spiritually-guided
for thousands of years throughout Japan, China, Tibet and other Asian
nations, Reiki was "rediscovered" in the late 19th century by Dr. Mikao
Usui, a Buddhist monk and educator, who used the therapy to heal the sick.
Today, Reiki is used as a method of healing illness and
reducing stress through light touch or, more commonly, by placing the
hands near or above the body in specific positions or patterns. Through
these positions, a Reiki practitioner can correct energetic imbalances
in the body by removing toxic energy, improving health and restoring a
person's energy levels.
Integration) - Developed by Ida P. Rolf in the 1940s, Structural Integration,
or Rolfing, works to correct imbalances in body caused by natural gravitational
forces. This technique utilizes deep pressure to help lengthen and relieve
built up tension in the body's connective
tissues. Benefits of this technique include improved balance, posture,
and range of motion; increased energy; stress reduction; and alleviation
of pain and discomfort.
Rosen Method - This technique utilizes a combination
of light touch, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and verbal
communication to work in helping clients to connect to themselves emotionally
in order to reduce tension and stress throughout the body.
Salt Glow - A combination of oil and salts, often salt from the Dead Sea, are applied to the skin to aid in exfoliation.
Sauna - Dry heat in a wooden room is used to promote the elimination of toxins through opening the pores. Often, the heat is infused with essential oils or herbs to aid in the detoxification process. Sauna is also beneficial for muscle aches and pains.
Scotch Hose - A hydrotherapy treatment in which a hose "massages" specific pressure points on the body, alternating between hot and cold water.
Seaweed Wrap - A body wrap that follows similar protocol to an herbal wrap of sea water properties, including seaweed. Can also be used in facial masks. Seaweed wraps are thought to help hydrate and eliminate toxins from the skin.
Shiatsu - Shiatsu is a Japanese form of
massage therapy similar to acupressure; in
fact, the word shiatsu literally means "finger pressure." As with acupressure,
the concepts of shiatsu hold that it can promote health and facilitate
healing by correcting energy imbalances in the body. These imbalances
are corrected by applying pressure to specific points along channels in
the body known as meridians. While there is no exact date as to when shiatsu
originated, the technique is believed to be hundreds, if not thousands,
of years old.
is usually delivered with the thumbs. However, some practitioners will
use their fingers, palms, elbows -- and even feet -- to achieve the desired
effect. Typically, a shiatsu practitioner will apply pressure not just
to a few points on the body. The goal here is twofold: to release energy
(qi in Chinese, ki in Japanese - pronounced
"chee") in areas where it may be blocked or stagnating, and
to bring energy back to areas that are depleted.
In addition to applying pressure, shiatsu practitioners may manipulate
the soft tissue over and around meridians, and perform passive and active
stretching exercises as part of treatment. Scientifically speaking, shiatsu
is an excellent form of pain relief. Research has shown that applying
extensive pressure initiates the release of endorphins, natural pain-killing
substances produced by the body. Shiatsu may also lower the levels of
adrenaline and other stress hormones, producing a relaxing effect.
Soft-Tissue Massage - Soft-tissue
massage is a generic term for any modality that is used to treat the soft
tissues in the body, including muscle, fascia, and scar tissue. Common
modalities used include Swedish, myofascial
release, deep-tissue massage, trigger-point
therapy ,connective tissue massage.
Spa Treatments - This term refers
to several types of treatments generally performed in resort and day spas.
Some of these include manicures and pedicures, mud wraps, body scrubs,
sea salt scrubs, parrafin treatments, hydrotherapy
treatments, scalp treatments, facials, and herbal and seaweed body wraps.
Massage - Sports massage therapies are both preventative and therapeutic,
and used for athletes during warm ups, training and competition to treat
and/or aid in the prevention of injuries; help improve flexibility, range
of motion, and performance; and aid in mental clarity. Virtually every
professional sports team employs professional sports massage therapists,
and are often privately employed by professional athletes.
Stone Massage - A massage that utilizes both hot and cold smooth stones usually harvested from natural rivers, springs or volcanos. Stones are used with massage oil, often in conjunction with deep-tissue massage to provide relief from tight or sore muscles. The alternate use of hot and cold stones in a single treatment creates a hydrotherapy effect that also helps to revitalize the body and restore energy.
Swedish Massage - Generally regarded as
the most common form of massage, Swedish massage involves a combination
of five basic strokes and concentrates on the muscles and connective tissues
of the body for improved circulation, relaxation, pain relief, and overall
health maintenance and well-being. Swedish massage is also one of the
less demanding techniques for massage therapists to practice as it usually
does not involve deep-tissue work.
Thai Massage - Practiced in Thailand for over
2,000 years, Thai massage -- also known as yoga massage, Thai yoga massage
and ancient massage -- works to clear energy blockages and restore balance
and harmony to the body. The practice combines typical Westernized massage
therapy practices, including myofascial release
and trigger point therapy, with
light stretching similar to that of yoga. It has even earned the name
"lazy man's yoga." Like yoga, Thai massage helps to strengthen the body
and increase flexibility, while allowing the client to benefit from the
relaxation and healing properties of massage.
than using a massage table, Thai massage is administered to fully clothed
clients on floor mats. Practitioners use their own body weight to position
clients into yoga-like forms while instructing clients on proper breathing
for maximum results.
Thalassotherapy - This hydrotherapy
treatment is often used in day spas and
wellness clinics. It utilizes seawater and sea water products for their
minerals and healing properties. Thalassotherapy treatments can involve
body wraps, or, more commonly, heated seawater baths. Benefits include
relaxation, increased circulation, and treatment of pain and injury.
Therapeutic Touch (TT)- Therapeutic
Touch is a form of bodywork practiced primarily in the nursing profession.
Using light touch, practitioners work with a clients energy to help restore
balance, emotional clarity, and promote relaxation and healing.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - Traditional
Chinese medicine is one of the oldest continuous systems of medicine in
history, with recorded instances dating as far back as two thousand years
before the birth of Christ. This is in sharp contrast to American or Western
forms of health care, which have been in existence for a much shorter
Chinese medicine is based, at least in part, on the Daoist belief that
we live in a universe in which everything is interconnected. What happens
to one part of the body affects every other part of the body. The mind
and body are not viewed separately, but as part of an energetic system.
Similarly, organs and organ systems are viewed as interconnected structures
that work together to keep the body functioning.
Many of the concepts emphasized in traditional Chinese medicine have
no true counterpart in Western medicine. One of these concepts is qi
(pronounced "chee"), which is considered a vital force or energy responsible
for controlling the workings of the human mind and body. Qi flows
through the body via channels, or pathways, which are called meridians.
There are a total of 20 meridians: 12 primary meridians, which correspond
to specific organs, organ systems or functions, and eight secondary meridians.
Imbalances in the flow of qi cause illness; correction of this
flow restores the body to balance.
Traditional Chinese medicine encompasses several methods designed to
help patients achieve and maintain health. Along with acupuncture,
TCM incorporates adjunctive techniques such as acupressure,
tuina, herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle, meditation,
and other practices.
For more information on TCM, visit www.acupuncturetoday.com/abc/
- The Trager Approach relies on gentle, rhythmic rocking and stretching
techniques to promote easy and free movement and sensation throughout
the body. Clients wear loose-fitting clothing and lay on a table in a
warm treatment room. Sessions can last from either one hour to an hour
and a half.
Following the session, practitioners provide clients with information
on "Mentastics," or mental gymnastics, and "recall".
Mentastics and recall help the client recreate the experiences they felt
during the actual Trager session to help induce the positive feelings
and states of relaxation associated with the session. The effects of the
Trager Approach are cumulative and improve over time; hence, clients are
encouraged to engage in several sessions to reap its full benefits.
Trigger-Point Therapy - Trigger
points are areas of soft tissue in the
body characterized by local pain, tightness, and tenderness. Often trigger
points develop because of referred pain, or pain from another source that
has manifested itself in a trigger point. Trigger points rarely refer
pain to other areas.
Trigger-point therapy seeks first to identify trigger points, then apply
steady, appropriate pressure to the point to "release" it. This
is usually followed by massage to the surrounding area to help treat the
cause of the trigger point. Clients are encouraged to drink a lot of water
following a trigger-point therapy session to flush out any toxins released
when the trigger point is released.
Tuina - Tuina (pronounced "twee nah") is a
form of Asian bodywork that has been used
in China for centuries. A combination of massage, acupressure
and other forms of body manipulation, tuina works by applying pressure
to acupoints, meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages
that prevent the free flow of qi (pronounced
"chee"). Removing these blockages restores the balance of qi
in the body, leading to improved health and vitality.
is best suited for alleviating chronic pain, musculoskeletal conditions
and stress-related disorders that affect the digestive and/or respiratory
systems. Among the ailments tuina treats best are neck pain, shoulder
pain, back pain, sciatica and tennis elbow. However, because tuina is
designed to improve and restore the flow of qi, treatment often
ends up causing improvements to the whole body, not just a specific area.
There is anecdotal evidence that headaches, constipation, premenstrual
symptoms and some emotional problems may also be effectively treated through
tuina. Because it tends to be more specific and intense than other types
of bodywork, tuina may not necessarily be used to sedate or relax a patient.
The type of massage delivered by a tuina practitioner can be quite vigorous;
in fact, some people may feel sore after their first session. Some patients
may also experience feelings of sleepiness or euphoria. As with all forms
of care, there are certain instances in which tuina should not be performed.
Patients with osteoporosis or conditions involving fractures, for instance,
should not receive tuina. Neither should patients with infectious diseases,
skin problems or open wounds.
Vichy Shower - A Vichy shower, named after mineral springs in Vichy, France, is a multi-pressure rain-like shower, often used to rinse off herbal wrap, mud and salt glow treatments on a wet table, while simultaneously helping to improve circulation of the skin.
Visceral Manipulation - Visceral
Manipulation seeks to correct pain and dysfunction caused by imbalance
between the organs and structures of the body.
According to the Upledger Institute, "Visceral Manipulation (VM)
is a gentle hands-on therapy that works through the body's visceral system
(the heart, liver, intestines and other internal organs) to locate and
alleviate abnormal points of tension throughout the body. VM employs specifically
placed manual forces that work to encourage the normal mobility, tone
and motion of the viscera and their connective tissues. Trained practitioners
use the rhythmic motions of the visceral system to evaluate how abnormal
forces interplay, overlap and affect the normal body forces at work. These
gentle manipulations can potentially improve the functioning of individual
organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity
of the entire body." *
*For reference information, visit www.spatherapy.com/spa_menu/aboutspareferences.php
- Watsu is a hydrotherapy treatment quickly
gaining popularity all over the world. Watsu, which combines the words
water and shiatsu, is literally shiatsu
performed on clients who float in warm water. The practitioner carefully
holds the client and applies gentle stretching and shiatsu-like massage
techniques along the back, neck, shoulders, and limbs. This therapy is
useful for a number of reasons: The warm water soothes muscles and promotes
relaxation; the feeling of weightlessness promotes free movement; and
benefits include pain relief, stress reduction and deep relaxation. Watsu
also promotes self-reflection, connection and trust.
Zero Balancing (ZB) - Zero Balancing is concerned
with "bone energy," or the energy of the skeletal system. The
practice seeks to work with both the body's energy and physcial structure
to correct imbalance, restore vitality, and aid in stress relief and pain
reduction. ZB work is performed on fully-clothed clients, and sessions
usually last about 30-45 minutes.
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