Swedish massage is defined by four or five somewhat familiar techniques, which have French names: effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic choppings), and friction (rubbing). Some therapists now incorporate advanced techniques that have rehabilitating effects and stretches for improving your range of motion. But the ultimate goal here is relaxation. As the default Western massage, Swedish massage is an extremely popular, simple, soothing touch therapy. At most spas, Swedish massage is the most popular treatment, and it’s for good reason. Perfect for first-time spa-goers, Swedish massage will help to release neck knots and sooth nerves. Traditional Swedish massage, or “classical massage,” consists mainly of long strokes over oiled skin and kneading of the outer layers of muscle tissue to reduce stress and sooth sore joints and muscles. Studies have shown Swedish massage relaxes the nervous system, aids circulation, and helps with detoxification. Find out more about Swedish Massage in Spafinder's What is Swedish 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.
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.
It used to be that New Yorkers searching for a luxurious destination spa experience had to board a plane, until the Lodge at Woodloch (just two hours from NYC) arrived in 2006 with 57 nature-inspired rooms (each with a private veranda) and a 40,000-square-foot spa. The 150 wooded acres feature a private 15-acre lake, and there's no stone unturned in terms of what you can do to get healthy: from golf to kayaking to fly fishing; from snowshoeing and hot tubbing amidst snowflakes; from bathing in the hydro massage pools to working up a sweat at TRX, spin or yoga sessions.
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.
This destination spa boasts a stunning red rock backdrop and offers rejuvenating Native American-inspired therapies such as "Spirit of the New Moon," which begins with you writing down an intention, followed by a foot bath and fully body massage and "Inner Quest." For the latter, reflective of Native American rituals, sweet grass is burned and a blanket is used to create the warmth of a sweat lodge. New offerings include an exfoliation inspired by the southwest region's pinon nut and directional meditation inspired by indigenous medicine wheel practices.