Spa Therapy and Its Types

"Spa Therapy" provider may offer several types of spa treatment. "Spa Treatment" may include all or some of the following therapies:

  1. Water Therapy
  2. Wrapping and Herb Therapy
  3. Massage Therapy
  4. Facial Therapy
  5. Nail - Manicures, Pedicures
  6. Nutrition and Weight Guidance
  7. Yoga
  8. Waxing

1. Water Therapy (Aqua Therapy):

There are several types of aqua therapies. List and details of water therapies are as follows

  1. Steam Sauna
  2. Hot Tub
  3. Vichy Shower
  4. Swiss Shower

Water Therapy (Aqua Therapy)

a. Steam Sauna:

Sauna word came from Finnish word "savna" meaning moisturize room or cubicles. In ancient time, steam sauna was very popular for relaxation and also as a treatment for breathing trouble. Steam was generated either by pouring water on heated metal pot or metal containers filled with water were heated by burning charcoal during Roman Empire. Present time steam temperature is monitored and controlled between 75 °C and 85 °C. Steam is delivered within enclosed space and temperature is controlled by percentage of humidity. Room temperature is controlled around 40 °C while maintaining humidity between 60% to 90%. Higher temperature and higher steam can cause skin scalding. Modern sauna has dual control of humidity and temperature. Customized sauna can set temperature and humidity for individual likings. Modern steam sauna is available at fitness center, cruise ship, spa treatment places and physical therapy sites. Warm steam helps to open up sweat glands, improves blood circulation and relaxes skeletal muscles.

Steam Sauna-Types of Aqua Therapies(Aqua Therapy)

Steam sauna is recommended for relaxation, weight loss, rejuvenate and breathing problems. Breathing difficulties caused by mucosal dryness of pharynx, larynx and bronchi do respond to humidified air breathed at steam sauna.

b. Hot Tub:

Hot tub therapy was introduced during Roman Empire and Egyptian Civilization as a hot tub bath or hot tub spa treatment. During ancient period warm water was poured in a large tub or small water pool. Individual would submerged their body up to neck in sitting position or lie on their back in a warm water filled tub. Submerged body in warm water results in muscle relaxation and improvement of blood circulation. In modern era hot tubs of every sizes and functions are available for domestic use. In comparison to hot tub, Jacuzzi has multiple water jets, which allows water under pressure to massage lower back and extremities. Jet streams are located within Jacuzzi at different levels to aim at different part of body. Pressured water stream delivered by jet stream massages muscles and relieves spasm resulting in less spasmodic pain. Temperature of domestic hot tub or Jacuzzi is adjusted by mixing cold and hot water, while temperature of commercial hot tub or Jacuzzi is monitored by monitoring devices. Sport centers and cruise ships often host huge Jacuzzi, which is available for guest and members. Water pH and chlorination is regularly monitored at public places. Water pH, temperature and level of chlorination are maintained at standard tolerable level as published by health department. Water temperature is maintained between 37° C to 39° C.

Types of Aqua Therapies(Aqua Therapy)-Hot Tub

Hot tub therapy or Jacuzzi treatment is recommended for:

  • Muscle Spasm.
  • Relaxation.
  • Fibromyalgia.

c. Vichy Shower:

Vichy shower spa is a water therapy offered before or after massage. Vichy shower therapy is pouring of warm water or discharging cascade of warm water over entire body except head when client is lying in prone position. Water is sprinkled over entire body as a rainfall of warm water with tolerable force. The aquatic therapy was initially introduced during Roman Empire at French city, Vichy. Vichy aquatic treatment is modified and improvised in recent time to achieve a thermal treatment with warm water and pressure. The combination of warm and forceful water stream sprayed over entire body does helps to relieve a generalized muscular pain and fatigue. Muscle spasm generates lactic acid, which in turn causes increased spasm. Muscle spasm is relieved as blood supply is improved within muscles by warm water spray and stream massage. Lactic acid is washed out of muscles.

Vichy Shower-Types of Aqua Therapies(Aqua Therapy)

Vichy shower treatment is recommended for:

  • Muscle Spasm
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Arthritis

d. Swiss Shower:

Swiss shower is an improvised and modified showerhead with multiple jets. Jet taps are positioned on the wall to force stream of water to run from top, back and both (right and left) side of enclose bathroom. Some shower may have water jet placed in front as well. Each water jet has a separate control. Water jet is also leveled at different heights. Swiss shower is a domestic water therapy module. Swiss shower treatments are most commonly used to rinse off the herbs and body wrap. However, the shower can be used as a stand-alone therapy or as an addition to a massage. The therapist positions the shower jets at the appropriate height for each client. After the client enters the shower, the therapist controls the water temperature and water pressure from outside. Swiss shower sessions usually last about fifteen minutes. When the Swiss shower is used for therapeutic purposes, rather than for relaxation, the therapist can quickly vary the temperature of the water from 40 to 45 degrees C. Rapid change in temperature, known as contrast therapy, alternately contracts and dilates the capillaries to stimulate blood circulation. Some Swiss showers also include an optional scotch hose. Hose delivers high pressure water; water force is controlled by the therapist standing outside the cubicle. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work the muscles without using deep pressure.

Swiss Shower-Types of Aqua Therapies(Aqua Therapy)

Swiss shower treatment is recommended for:

  • Myofascial Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Muscle Spasm

2. Wrapping Treatment:

List and details of wrapping therapies are as follows:

  1. Mud Bath Wrapping Treatment
  2. Herbal Wrapping
  3. Hot Stone Therapy
  4. Flower Wrapping Treatment

a. Mud Baths:

Mud bath treatment has been in use in east Europe for last several years. Treatment was improvised at Lake Techirghiol in Romania during past several years. Western European countries had recommended and offered mud bath treatment with traditional spas for centuries. Presently mud bath treatment option is routinely available at resort, and cruise ships. Mud baths have existed for thousands of years, and can be found now in high-end spas in many countries of the world. Mud used in mud bath come from many sources. One of the sources is a combination of local volcanic ash, imported Canadian peat and naturally heated mineral waters. Mixing one of the following clays with water makes mud. Clays used for mud bath are kaolin, smectite, bentonite, montmorillonite or fuller's earth. Some mud used for body wrapping may contain minerals like copper, zinc and magnesium in addition to soil and slit with water and clay.

Mud Baths-Shower-Wrapping Treatment

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Arthritis Pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety Tension

b. Herbal Wrapping:

Herbal body wrapping is therapeutic for skin disease, muscular pain, and helps in weight loss and muscular spasm. Herbal body wraps removes toxins, which is stored and discharged by sweat gland. Removal of toxins helps in improving skin texture and muscle spasm. Herbal wrapping around skin promotes metabolism of subcutaneous fat resulting in reduction of body weight and tissue thickness. Herbal wrap is prepared by mixing ground herb, salt, essential oil and clay. Wrap may contain seaweed, flower paste and foods like chocolates. Paste is heated to a warm temperature, which is comfortable to body before applied over skin. Paste of herbal wrap is applied directly over skin from neck to toes and then covered by a cloth or plastics. Tightly covered textile or plastic is carefully spread over body. Client leaves wrapping for 2 to 3 hours depending on tolerance. Most of the herbal wrapping is manually removed and remaining is washed out. Most common minerals used in mineral body wrap are copper, magnesium, iron and zinc. Mineral wrapping helps in detoxification of body toxins, relief from muscle spasm and helps with healing. Copper mineral wrapping helps to improve thyroid function and also works as antiseptic. Next popular mineral wrapping is magnesium wrapping, which helps to relieve muscle spasm, muscle pain like fibromyalgia and reduces body edema (swelling). Magnesium is often mixed with mud wrap. Magnesium also gets absorbed through skin and helps in strengthening teeth and bones.

Zinc is also used often with magnesium and copper in mineral body wrap. Zinc is also antiseptic and absorbs body toxins. Zinc also helps to improve immune system and healing of injured tissue. Zinc and magnesium mix in mud helps to remove bacteria and toxins excreted from blood and sweat gland from the skin and subcutaneous tissue.

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Muscle spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Arthritis pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety tension

c. Hot Stone Therapy:

In the past stones were heated in a hot water at temperature of 50 to 53 °C or 120 to 130 °F. These days stones or rocks are electronically heated. Warm marble stones are placed over the skin of back by therapist for massage. Temperature of stone is tasted on each client before stone is placed over the skin. Clients may have different sensitivity for heat. Stones are used as a tool to deliver heat and effective massage by applying appropriate compression using moderate to deep pressure. Volcanic basalt rock stones are often used for their ability to retain heat and for the magnetism and mineral properties of the stone. Alternatively marble stones are used. Marble stones are smooth in shape, and flat at one side. Skin is massaged with oil before hot stones are placed over the skin. Therapist will place warm stones over skin covering muscles with larger mass and puts gentle pressure so that heat transmits through skin to muscle mass. Slowly pressure is increased to promote transmission of heat deeper into muscle mass. Hot stone treatment is sometimes combined with cold stone massage therapy. Change in temperature of skin and muscles improve blood circulation by contraction and relaxation of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. Heat treatment helps to relieve muscular and skeletal pain, and also increases blood supply. The heat from the stones relaxes muscles, increases blood flow to the area being worked on which further accelerates the healing process and aids in mental relaxation.

Hot stone treatment is contraindicated if patient has:

  • Abnormal skin conditions like infection, bruises, hematoma, inflamed skin eczema, psoriasis and rash.
  • Surgical wound.
  • History of immunosuppression.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis- Dilatation of deep vein and arteries can dislodge the thrombus and discharge blood clots (emboli).
  • Pregnant Patient.
  • Patient with Heart Disease.

Hot Stone treatment is indicated for treatment of following conditions:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Hot stone massage is suited for people who tend to feel chilly or who have cold feet.
  • Poor Circulation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Arthritis Pain
  • Stress, Anxiety, and Tension
  • Insomnia

d. Flower Wrapping Treatment:

Body wrapping with flower petals is more modern modification of body wrapping treatment. Flower wrapping is difficult but flower petal is pasted with sticky oil.

3. Massage Therapies:

List and details of massage therapies are as follows

  1. Swedish Massage
  2. Deep Tissue Massage
  3. Lomilomi Massage
  4. Lymphatic Drainage Massage
  5. Shiatsu Massage
  6. Reflexology Massage
  7. Sports Massage
  8. Thai Massage
  9. Traditional Maori Massage
  10. Mandi Luhur Massage Therapy
  11. Aromatherapy Massage

a. Swedish Massage:

Superficial massage is also known as soft or Swedish massage. Massage therapist massages back, neck, extremities and scalp. Client is given a choice to select or refuse any particular area of body. Massage is schedule for 60 to 120 minutes. Prior to massage, skin is lubricated with oil of selected aroma and fragrant. Massage stroke depends on obesity and muscle mass. Massage also involves in breaking muscle spasm or muscle knots. Swedish massage treatment is beneficial in treating

  • Joint pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Muscle spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Arthritis pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety tension

b. Deep tissue massage (Full body)

It is used for treatment of muscular and arthritis pain. It is the oldest type of non-holistic massage practice since 16th centuries. Pressure used during deep massage is depended on thickness of body fat and muscles. Massage helps to improve blood supply to muscles. Deep squeeze of muscles during massage relieves muscle spasm, which is often identified as muscle knots. Massage stroke involves use of hand, forearm and elbow.

  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Muscle spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Arthritis pain
  • Anxiety tension

c. Lomilomi Massage

This massage is practiced in Hawaii. It is a traditional massage used for holistic healing. Lomi means rub or squeeze. Massage involves more than deep massage and involves traditional deep strokes to squeeze, clasp and wedge muscle mass. Strokes involve hand and forearm to accomplish goal to achieve muscle loosening.

  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Muscle spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Arthritis pain and
  • Fibromyalgia

d. Lymphatic Drainage Massage

It is a modified deep massage. Lymphatic vessels are located in deeper subcutaneous tissue and muscle tissue. Lymph secretions are propelling through vessels by contraction skeletal muscles and smooth muscles of lymph vessels. Lymphatic drainage is slow or restricted in diseases like myofascial pain syndrome fibromyalgia and chronic muscle spasm (muscle knots). Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle deep massage results in increase lymph secretion flow through lymphatic vessels. MLD massage synchronizes muscle contraction by removing muscle knots. Synchronized muscle contraction promoted ease of lymph flow through lymphatic vessels with contraction of smooth muscles of lymph vessels.

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Relaxation
  • Arthritis pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety Tension

e. Shiatsu Massage:

Shiatsu was invented by Tokujiro Namikoshi and founded the first shiatsu college in 1940. Words "shi" and "atsu," derived from Japanese language meaning "finger pressure." Also known as Zen Shiatsu. Shiatsu massage with deep pressure point treatment improves blood circulation within cramping muscles. Main principle of massage therapy is to treat trigger point pain using pressure point technique. Shiatsu therapy is based on two therapeutic principles: a) treatment of anatomical tender points caused by physiological changes in the tissue or, b) Shiatsu Therapy for chronic pain and muscle abnormalities distributed along "Chi" points which is described as per traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Shiatsu is usually performed on a futon mat, with clients fully clothed. Therapy is recommended for spiritual, philosophical, and medical cure of pain producing diseases. Shiatsu massage is performed while client is lying down over mattress or thin cloths. Shiatsu massage therapist after taking detailed history of pain and muscle spasm charts out lymph flows or chi flows. Initially light massage is performed to find out the pain tolerance with light pressure massage. Pressure is increased to see the tolerance before conducting proper massage therapy. Massage is mostly performed using thumb and elbow joint. There are fourteen pressure points, which runs along the length of body from neck to heels. Therapist gently but firmly applies pressure over skin using fingers, knuckles, thumbs, palms, toes, feet, knees or elbows. Shiatsu spa massage is an alternative therapy for chronic pain. Increased blood flow of muscle tissue and skin during massage therapy washes out toxins. There is no scientific evidence suggesting benefits of shiatsu spa treatment. Shiatsu practitioners promote the therapy for following illnesses:

  • Stress induce diseases
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle spasm
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Pulled muscles
  • Joint arthritis
  • Persistent Headache and
  • Sleeplessness

f. Reflexology Massage:

Reflexology is a term used for broad massage therapy. Reflexo-therapy is often used exclusively for foot massage therapy. Foot massage is a treatment for foot pain and planter fasciitis provided at the Spa. Therapy involves massage and stretching of joints. Indication for therapy is foot or plantar injuries, foot or ankle pain, arthritis, foot spasm or plantar fasciitis. Reflexology foot therapy is often extended to calf muscles and knee joint. Reflexology massage therapy of foot and ankle is combined with physiotherapy following surgery and injuries. Therapy is repeated 2 to 3 times a week for 6 to 8 weeks. Massage therapy is performed using thumb and fingers to induce pressure at trigger point and painful area. Reflexology is promoted for self-healing in holistic alternative medicine. Areas in the feet and hands are identified as referred point of visceral pain. Reflexology massage therapist may encourage massage therapy of certain part of feet, heel or ankle to relieve various abdominal and pelvic pains. By precise massaging, reflexology can stimulate circulation, induce relaxation and enable homeostasis.

Treatment is recommended for:

  • Foot pain
  • Planter fasciitis
  • Foot arthritis
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Cramps

g. Sports Massage:

Sports massage is a type of massage used after sporting activities for relaxation and stretching of muscles. Sports massage is a section of athletic training. Massage is concentrated more on muscles used for sporting activities. Sport massage therapist often has a special training in physiotherapy and therapist is often qualified physiotherapist. Therapist should have detailed knowledge of muscle anatomy and physiology. Massage is performed to prevent muscle cramps following sporting activities as well to improve muscle strength and function.

h. Thai Massage:

Thai massage is a combination of deep massage and stretching known as "Nuat Phaen Boran", which means massage performed in ancient manner. Thai massage was originated from Buddhist religion spiritual practice. Massage is performed on the hard floor while customer lying down over thin mattress. Massage is done with dry hand and oil is not use during massage. Rhythmic massage stroke is achieved by massaging muscles with hand or forearm. Different pressure is applied over normal and diseased muscles. Pressure necessary for deep massage depends on body mass and obesity. Necessary pressure is carefully applied over skin and underlying muscles to achieve deep massage. Thai massage therapy is different from deep massage therapy because it includes careful stretching of extremities and joints during therapy. Thai therapy also includes yoga positioning during massage treatment. Establishing yoga positions helps to stretch joint and extremities. Massage strokes are guided by either "Meridian" (Chinese) points or "Nadis" (Indian) points. Meridian points are described in traditional Chinese treatment of Acupuncture. Positions of "Nadis" are specific pressure points described in old Indian massage therapy. Thai massage is performed using hands, forearm and feet. Massage may last 2 to 3 hours. Stretching includes stretching of fingers, toes, hands, feet, wrist, ankle, elbow, knee, shoulder and hip joints. Thai massage is also promoted for spiritual healing and improvement of concentration.

Treatment is recommended for:

  • Muscle pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Cramps
  • Myofascial Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional Stress

i. Traditional Maori Massage:

Maori massage is known as Romiromi massage and is popular in New Zealand. Treatment involves deep tissue massage, pressure point and joint alignment. Massage is promoted to release and remove tension and emotional stress. Treatment removes lactic acid from painful and spasmodic muscles, releases muscle spasm and tension. Maori mean life force. Maori massage was based on assumption to bring strength of life force and mental force into balance. Massage is performed after application of kawakawa oil over skin of various parts of body. Following massage client feels calmed down, lucid and tired. Maori massage is also combined with hot stone treatment for spiritual healing.

Treatment is recommended for:

  • Muscle Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Myofascial Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional stress.

j. Mandi Luhur Massage Therapy:

Mandi Luhur is a customary Spa treatment mostly done at beauty saloon in Indonesia. Mandi Luhur therapy was widely use during 17th century at island of Jawa, one of the Indonesian island. Lihur is a Jawanese word and means 'coating the skin' in Javanese language. Treatment involves application of paste of herbs mix with oil over the skin. Herb contains rice powder, turmeric, sandalwood and jasmine oil. Paste is left over skin for 30 to 45 minutes. Skin looks shiny and silky after herb paste is peeled off from skin. Remaining paste after exfoliation is removed with tub bath or shower. Treatment may follow with soft massage and warm water tub Jacuzzi bath. Paste is washed out quickly after application if individual complaints of itching or any allergic reactions.

Treatment is recommended for:

  • Skin Hyperpigmentation
  • Muscle Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial Pain

k. Aromatherapy Massage:

Aromatherapy has been used as an alternative therapy for anxiety disorder and depression. Natural fragrant of aroma is extracted from plants. Numerous Fragrant are extracted from stem, root, leaves and flowers. Extracted fragrants are dissolved in oil for local applications. Aromatherapy involves superficial or deep massage therapy using oil mix with different aroma. Treatment is effective in disease with cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders. There is no scientific evidence suggesting aromatherapy is an effective treatment for any illnesses.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 11, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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