I’ve written about facial massage before in this blog but never about a full body massage. In my mind I divide spa goers into “facial clients” and “massage clients”, and I find that clients really do have preference when it comes to spa services and that they stick to their preference. Rarely do I find that skincare clients get massages and visa versa. Truthfully when it comes to spa services I am a “massage client”. I would be more than happy to get massages daily if I could afford it (and had the time for it).
Recently I came across a fun article in Travel and Leisure magazine called Great Massages in Unusual Places in which the author recounts some of the highs and lows of receiving massages all over the world. I also liked how the article included a history of massages:
History of Massages
Circa 2300 B.C.: Weary Egyptians embrace reflexology enough to depict it on their tombs—perhaps ensuring a foot-rub-filled eternity.
Circa 400 B.C.: Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, writes about the physiological effects of “rubbing.” Without specifying parts of the anatomy, he concludes that “hard rubbing constricts, soft relaxes, much rubbing thins, and moderate thickens.”
50 B.C.: Julius Caesar gets massages for his neuralgia—he was said to have been “pinched” every day (a practice continued by Italian men on public transportation).
1813: Per Henrik Ling, a Stockholm fencing master and gymnast, is credited with developing modern Swedish massage.
1868: Ling’s place in history is challenged by Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch practitioner who classifies massage techniques, using terms such as effleurage (stroking) and petrissage (kneading) that nobody on a massage table cares about, so long as it feels good.
1895: J. H. Kellogg promotes “The Art of Massage” from his Battle Creek Sanitarium, in Michigan. Not to mention Corn Flakes.
1922: Reiki, an ancient Tibetan practice, is discovered by Japanese businessman Mikao Usui. He and his disciples, known as Reiki masters, claim healing powers even without touching—their hands hovering over the body like low-flying aircraft.
1928: A French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, uses lavender oil to heal his burned hand. Aromatherapy is born, and forever after “aromatherapy massage” costs more.
Today: Ashram-style austerity is back, with the rise of detox and weight-loss spas and even “bikini boot camp” programs. What does it mean for sybarites? You now have to earn your end-of-day massage.
There are so many different types of massages that one can receive. If you want to dip your toe in the water (pun intended) and have never had a massage before try reflexology since the only part of your body the massage therapist will be touching is your feet. Finding the right massage therapist for you might take a bit of trial and error (and a few bad massages), but once you find that right therapist you’ll be delighted (and more relaxed). My personal favorite kind of massage is a Thai massage which involves the therapist using their body to manipulate your body; you remain fully clothed and the work is done on mats on the floor of the massage room. This is a very different type of massage if you have only had European type of massages in the past, but I highly recommend it if you’ve never tried one before.