A native Hawaiian healing practice, Lomi Lomi or lomilomi massage is a deeply nurturing style of massage characterized by fast flowing movement. There is also a spiritual side therapists focus on giving the treatment with love and intention. Traditional practitioners may offer a prayer beforehand. There are 100,000 styles of Lomi Lomi massage, according to author Makana Risser Chai, so it’s hard to know what you’ll be getting. In general, strokes are long, flowing, fast, and rhythmic, and therapists use their hands, forearms, and occasionally their fists for deep pressure. Lomi Lomi treatments are typically choreographed and given in time to special music (mostly drums). Beware treatments that are “lomi lomi-inspired.” Lomi lomi massage training takes several years to complete, either with a mentor or through a multi-level training program. Spas with seriously trained therapists will be glad to tell you where their staff learned it. You may be asked to remove all clothing (you’ll still be covered with a sarong or sheet) so the therapist can keep the quick tempo and move from your shoulders to your glutes and back up in two seconds flat. Read about Lomi Lomi Massage in Spafinder's post, What is an Hawaiian or Lomi Lomi Massage? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
Like the name suggests, deep tissue massage targets your body’s deepest layers of muscle and releases tension in overstressed areas. When your muscles are severely knotted, this therapeutic treatment is designed to break it up. Deep tissue massage is a mix of slow, short strokes and penetrating finger pressure focused on tight, contracted areas. The therapist employs her thumbs, forearms, and even elbows to work muscle tissue and relieve tension. Be warned, if it’s your first massage or you don’t get much exercise, steer clear of deep tissue. You could end up very sore the next day. A deep tissue massage can help heal injuries and release knots caused by stress. Deep tissue massage requires a solid understanding of anatomy, but top therapists don’t just have technical skill. They’re highly sensitive and aware of reactions taking place in the body during the work and know when to back off. For more read Spafinder's guide to What is Deep Tissue Massage? If Deep Tissue isn't what you're looking for, find an alternative by reading Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
Those Scandinavians knew what they were doing. If you’ve never been to a classic Nordic Spa we are happy to lead you to bliss. It’s all based on a circuit of thermal baths that take your body through a complete cleansing and physical conditioning. Because you are moving between steam baths and cold pools, improved blood circulation is one of the major benefits. These spectacular spas are often found immersed in epic natural environments. So, think of it as the ultimate winter warm-up, perfect for the après-skier or the “I’ll spa while you ski” set. This invigorating day spa experience can be had year-round. Get ready to take hydrotherapy to a holistic new level. The first stop on the Nordic Spa circuit is usually a dry sauna or steam bath, which raises your body temperature to dilate pores and flush out toxins. The next stage of this water therapy involves a cold shower, or a very chilly dip in a sub-zero pool. Grin and bear it. We swear it’s good for you! Finally, to get the most out of this hyper hydrotherapy experience, repeat the hot, cold sequence three or four times before tucking in to a cozy relaxation room.
The practice of using essential oils dates back to Egyptian times (it’s been said Cleopatra was a fan). Today, aromatherapy is used to promote well-being and stimulate the senses in a wide range of spa treatments, varying from massage to facials to hydrotherapy. Fragrant essential extracts sourced from plants, flowers, and herbs are mainly applied for their therapeutic benefits; studies show aromatherapy not only improves your mood, but may reduce stress levels and treat insomnia. So whether you want to rejuvenate or simply smell delicious, we say aromatherapy just makes sense! Step into a spa and one of the first things you’ll notice is a signature scent wafting in the air. It’s there to entice your senses straight off the bat and sets the tone for a relaxed experience. Not only is aromatherapy used to set the mood in a spa, it’s celebrated for healing purposes as well. Different natural oils are used for different therapeutic benefits. For example, lavender endorses calm, so speak with your therapist about what you’d like to accomplish during your treatment. To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?
Traditional Thai massage is a different experience if you’ve only ever had a Swedish or deep tissue massage. In Thai massage, you wear loose-fitting clothing (often provided by the massage therapist) and start by lying on a mat. Throughout the massage, the therapist moves your body into various seated and prone positions, which stretch and release your muscles and soft tissue. Although your body is moving, the therapist is doing all the work, making it feel similar to supported yoga. The massage therapist will bend, stretch, and compress and lengthen your body using their hands, forearms, elbows and even feet. Don’t be alarmed by the feet! Many studios have overhead supports that allow the practitioners to safely walk on your back, releasing tight adhesions and promoting ease. Thai massage can be both invigorating and relaxing. It is an excellent option for keeping your muscles in good health if you regularly work out, or if you want to overcome a lack of flexibility. Studies show that Thai massage can increase blood circulation, improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension and enhance mental well-being.
For thousands of years, Eastern healers have used pressure-point massage to balance the body. Shiatsu is the Japanese version. The idea is that chi, or life energy, flows through the body in 14 meridians. When the meridians are blocked, physical or emotional problems result. During a shiatsu massage, you lie on a floor mat while the therapist gently rocks and stretches your body and applies finger and thumb pressure to points. The purpose can be to stimulate or to subdue energy, making shiatsu invigorating as well as relaxing. Shiatsu treats your whole being rather than a single aspect of your body. Spas recommend it for stubborn knots, sports injuries, and back pain, and say the pressure can help trigger the release of chemicals, like cortisone, that help the body heal itself. Shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese, but that doesn’t begin to cover it. Shiatsu therapists use their thumbs as well as elbows, knees, and feet to apply strategic pressure to muscles and connective tissues. Practitioners of Zen or Five Elements shiatsu therapy use the pressure-point massage for another reason. Namely, to balance the body’s chi, a practice that comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine. In both cases, you typically wear loose-fitting clothing, and it’s done on a floor mat. Expect intense pressure and a fair bit of movement as the therapist stretches your muscles and alleviates knots and pain. While it’s languid enough to ultimately relax your muscles, it’s not likely something you’ll sleep through. Some therapists will spend a lot of time on your hara (stomach), which is considered the root of imbalance in Five Elements shiatsu. Read more about Shiatsu Massage in Spafinder's post, What is Shiatsu Massage? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.