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What are alternative body massages?

If you’re a regular spa-goer, you will know there are lots of different types of spa massage. Spa day and spa break packages at our 500+ spas often feature such options as a back, neck and shoulders massage. However, there are several speciality massages offered at selected spas. In this guide, we take a look at the more popular types of alternative body massage, so you know what to expect the next time you visit the spa.

Please note: For these and any other spa treatments, it is important to tell the spa about any health issues and to check with your doctor ahead of time if you have any concerns.

Thai massage

What is a Thai massage?

For this treatment, a specially trained therapist stretches and compresses your limbs, sometimes even climbing up on top of you, using his/her hands, feet, knees and legs to carry out the treatment.

Is a Thai massage good for you?

The reported benefits of Thai massage include calming anxiety, reducing the frequency of headaches and improving lower back and joint pain. It can also boost flexibility and energy levels. However, 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.

How often should you get a Thai massage?

You can have a Thai massage weekly or fortnightly if you are addressing a specific issue. Once a month is recommended if you are having the treatment just for relaxation and improved flexibility.

What do you wear for a Thai massage?

For this oil-free massage, you remain fully clothed, so wearing loose, comfortable clothing is essential.

Indian head massage

What is an Indian head massage?

Also called scalp massage or Champissage, Indian head massage is a soothing massage that involves manipulation of the scalp and upper neck area and temples. This treatment can boost circulation and stimulate feelings of wellbeing. It can also encourage healthy sleep and reduce headaches.

How much does Indian head massage cost?

Prices start from around £25 for 30 minutes. Scalp massage is also featured as part of some of our spa day and spa break packages. Contact us for more details.

Does massaging the scalp encourage hair growth?

Oils and hair clays are sometimes used during the treatment and the hair is gently pulled. Therefore, it’s probably not a good idea to have a scalp massage if hair loss is a concern. However, paradoxically, head massage is considered excellent for addressing scalp problems, including slow hair growth and poor blood flow.


What is reflexology?

This treatment works on the theory of Qi. It involves stimulating specific ‘reflex zones’, usually in the feet. These zones are thought to heal corresponding areas of the body. For example, the toes are connected to the head, and the area around the pads of the feet corresponds to the chest area. Overall, the feet have five reflex zones. There are also reflex zones on the hands and ears.

Does reflexology work?

The treatment dates to 2330 BC, so has a long tradition of healing. There is little scientific evidence that reflexology works. However, people have reported benefits from the treatment.

What is reflexology good for?

Reflexology has been used to address a range of issues, including pain relief, improving circulation and releasing blocked energy in the body.

Can reflexology help with anxiety?

Relaxation is another of the reported benefits of reflexology, so it has the potential to help with anxiety.


What is acupressure?

Acupressure is different from acupuncture. In both treatments, practitioners work on releasing Qi energy around the body’s so-called ‘meridian energy pathways’. These allow the flow of energy. However, while acupuncture employs fine needles, acupressure works by placing external pressure on certain points of the body, known as acupoints. The practitioner uses their fingers, palms, elbows or feet to apply this pressure.

Do acupressure points work?

Acupressure is thought to have a range of benefits including improving circulation and relieving pain and tension. It can also restore the yin-yang balance of the organs. An imbalance can manifest as ailments ranging from headaches to digestive congestion.

Ayurvedic massage

What is Ayurvedic massage?

Ayurvedic medicine (or Ayurveda) is an ancient Indian holistic health philosophy which embraces massage, diet, fasting, exercise and yoga. It involves diagnostic remedies based around an individual’s ‘dosha’ type. This is defined by a person’s physical, emotional, and mental attributes.

Ayurvedic massage uses specific herbal oils to balance the doshas. It is usually performed on a traditional hardwood plank.

Is Ayurvedic massage effective?

Ayurvedic massage is thought to boost circulation, promote flexibility and alleviate joint pain, as well as improving overall wellbeing.

Shiatsu massage

What is shiatsu massage?

Performed fully clothed, this traditional Japanese massage involves the therapist pressing on specific points of the body for two to eight seconds, as well as bending and stretching the limbs using the hands, elbows and feet.

How does shiatsu work?

Meaning ‘finger pressure, shiatsu works in a similar way to acupressure by unblocking and rebalancing the body’s natural energy meridians.

Is shiatsu massage good for you?

Shiatsu massage can be effective in providing pain relief, treating digestive problems and boosting immunity. 

Bamboo massage

What is a 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 work deeply into muscular knots.

What are the benefits of a bamboo massage?

A bamboo massage can provide similar benefits to a hot stone or deep tissue massage. These include improving circulation, relieving muscle tension, and reducing aches and pains.

For more, you might like to check out our other handy guides, including our spa FAQs.


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