SpaSeekers’ Guide to Alternative Body Massage
In the mood for something a bit different? In this guide, we take a look at some of the more specialised massages that are available at some spas.
Want to try an alternative massage?
Various types of massage from around the world can be found on la carte spa menus:
For this oil-free massage, you remain fully clothed, so wearing loose comfortable clothing is essential. The specialist therapist stretches and compresses your limbs, sometimes even climbing up on top of you to perform this agile massage using his/her hands, feet, knees and legs. The rigorous style is not unlike passive yoga, so it is not really suitable for the elderly or anyone with back problems, inflexible joints or injuries.
Scalp massage/Indian head massage/Champissage
This extremely soothing massage, originally from India, involves manipulation of the scalp and upper neck area and temples to boost circulation and create a profound sense of wellbeing. Oils and hair clays are sometimes used and hair is gently pulled, so it’s probably not best suited if hair loss is a concern, although paradoxically head massage is considered excellent for boosting the problems of a tense scalp, from poor blood flow, to headaches and slowed hair growth. Head massage is the ultimate natural hangover cure!
Not everybody likes to have, or can have, their bodies massaged. However, the benefits of this ancient finger-point massage to the feet, hands and ears goes far beyond merely being a foot rub. The theory is that stimulating specific ‘reflex zones’ in the feet/hands/ears corresponds to healing certain organs in the body. This can be an effective treatment for relaxation, pain relief, improved circulation and releasing blocked energy in the body.
Little to do with acupuncture, except that practitioners of this ancient Chinese massage also work on releasing ‘Qi’ energy around the body’s meridian energy pathways. Acupressure can improve blood circulation, provide tension relief, heal and reboot stagnating energy relating to the yin-yang balance of the organs (lung, heart etc), which can manifest as ailments ranging from headaches to digestive congestion.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic health philosophy embracing massage, diet, fasting, exercise and yoga, with diagnostic remedies based around your ‘dosha’ type (kapha, pitta, vata). Ayurvedic massage uses specific herbal oils to balance these doshas, physically improving the circulation, promoting flexibility and alleviating joint pain. It is usually performed on a traditional hardwood plank featuring a peripheral groove to allow the oils to flow off.
This Japanese massage is performed fully clothed and involves the therapist pressing on specific points for two to eight seconds (shiatsu means “finger pressure”), as well as bending and stretching the limbs using the hands, elbows and feet to unblock and rebalance the body’s natural energy meridians. It is effective in providing pain relief, treating digestive problems and boosting immunity. Bamboo massage
This stress-relieving massage style is relatively new on the spa scene. Short lengths of warmed, hollow bamboo cane are used to roll and knead oil into the skin to get into any muscular knots, improving circulation and dispersing the dimply appearance of fatty tissue forming cellulite. It provides similar benefits to hot stone and deep-tissue massage A wide selection of spa treatments can be purchased as a gift, so whether you're looking for someone to accompany you, or want to buy a gift for a friend, be sure to check out our spa gift vouchers page. You can also contact our experts for more help and advice.
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