Body Treatments

Breaking down a spa menu: Choose the right massage

Until recently, therapeutic or relaxing were the only were your only options when choosing a massage off the spa menu. These days, you need a whole new vocabulary to find a treatment you'll really love. Now you see everything and anything on spa menus: shiatsu, lomi lomi, abhyanga. If you're a massage connoisseur, that's a great thing because you don't have to travel the globe to get these services. But if you're a bodywork newbie, making a selection can be overwhelming. Here are the basics:

  • Swedish - characterized by moderate pressure and long strokes that run along the grain of the muscle. Most find it to be not only relaxing, but also deeply healing because it reduces stress in the muscles. Choose it if you're a beginner, are chronically wound up and need full-body relaxation, or just want to feel deliciously pampered.
  • Deep-tissue - results-oriented massage, deep-tissue work incorporates penetrating kneading techniques, cross-grain strokes and trigger-point releases. Some people find it painful, but it's very therapeutic. Choose it if you have areas of chronic tension or muscular injuries.
  • Shiatsu - Therapists use their fingers and hands to apply massage and acupressure, and may incorporate gentle stretching. This Japanese modality works with the body's energetic meridian system.
  • Thai - You keep your clothes on, lie on the floor and let your therapist work your body through a series of stretches designed to release muscular tension. Choose it if you want to feel invigorated.
  • Abhyanga  - Therapists use herb-infused massage oils and apply them using strokes properly paced for your dosha (vata, smooth and slow; pitta, slow and precise; kapha, vigorous). A form of Ayurvedic bodywork, abhyanga works to correct imbalances in the doshas (the energies that govern life). Choose it if you're feeling frenzied (vata imbalanced), fried (pitta imbalanced) or sluggish (kapha imbalanced). It's a good choice to balance mind and body.
  • Lomi lomi - This traditional Hawaiian massage includes long, flowing, rhythmic strokes and forearm pressure. Lomi lomi is like a dance; the practitioner's hulalike movements around the massage table assist in the flow of energy. The idea is to help release emotional tension stored in the musculature and invite good feelings; the treatment is often described as "loving hands."
  • Craniosacral - therapy Developed by a chiropractor, craniosacral therapy employs ultra-light touch to help balance pressure in the spine between your cranium and sacrum (hence the name). It facilitates muscular release by working directly with the nervous system. Choose it if you have headaches-the modality is widely used to treat migraines-allergies, sinusitis or you're totally stressed out.
  • Reflexology - Therapists apply pressure to the feet to create changes in the body. Reflexology holds the belief that each of the body's organs corresponds with an area on the bottom of the foot. Choose it if you have a health issue. A complement to standard medical care, reflexology can provide relaxation and improve blood flow, which can help reduce pain for a number of ailments.

Source: Natural Health

Posted: Feb 3, 2011

Read more: http://www.naturalhealthmag.com/expert_advice/101