Picking the right type of massage is important.
If there’s one thing that I consistently ask for every holiday, it’s a spa gift card. I love getting a good massage. But when you face hours on your feet in the pharmacy or stressful long hours taking meticulous care to accurately calculate and compound sterile chemotherapy doses, picking the right type of massage is important.
For me, the right kind of massage is typically mixed part light and part deep tissue massage that leaves me feeling rested and relaxed, but that may not be for you. Here’s a list of amazing massages and where you can find them.
Deep Tissue Massage: Working Out All the Knots
This is my favorite massage by far for my back and shoulders and usually requires medium-to- hard pressure. Deep tissue massages can leave you sore for a day or so following the treatment but the relief in your aching muscles will be well worth it.
Oak Haven Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is my go-to spot for a relaxing spa vacation and every massage I’ve had there has left me tranquil and clear headed. In fact, my daughters often joke about my calm persona after a great massage. This spa lets you dictate the pressure and your therapist will work to find what works best for you.
Swedish Massage: Traditional and Relaxing
Most of the massages in the United States are based in Swedish technique. You’ll notice it’s a Swedish massage when gentle kneading and long strokes set the stage. It’s likely the best option for someone who is having a massage for the first time.
One place to find an amazing Swedish treat is at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. This is the most luxurious and decadent spa I’ve found in my travels. When you sign up for their traditional Swedish massage, you’ll gain access to one of the best US spas, according to Conde Nast Traveler. As their website explains, this spa boasts, "43,000-square-foot subterranean spa, numerous water features including eucalyptus steamrooms, therapeutic waterfalls and an oversided, mountain view hot tub."
While my massage was amazing, the overall experience at this spa made my trip all the better. We’re planning round 2 in advance of my daughter’s wedding this fall and my next massage at this amazing property is already scheduled.
Aromatherapy Massage: Helping You Breathe Easier
When stress is a major issue, you should consider aromatherapy. This massage allows the therapist to select essential oils that help you relax, feel more energized, or even help you find balance.
Prepare to enjoy the smell of eucalyptus or lavender as a massage therapist provides a soft and smooth massage.
My favorite aromatherapy massage was in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Spa at Hotel Hershey. I also enjoyed the chocolate soak while on property. With lots of space for relaxation, this spa is the perfect spot for an chocolate lover.
Hot Stone Massage
When it comes to hot stone massages, you can expect a rush of heat from each stone to help relax the muscle before it is rubbed.
The Manara Spa at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is the perfect spot to try out a hot stone massage. They focus on energy points after using hot stone and long strokes to relax the muscles. If you want to try something extremely special, the Lomi Lomi massage is known as a healing option that uses the forearms and hand to induce relaxation.
My local massage therapist always uses hot stones on any sore area explaining that the Himalayan salt stone helps reduce inflammation. I am not sure of the science but I can say it feels wonderful.
Ashiatsu Massage: Being Walked Over, Literally
Have you ever seen a massage where the therapist walks on someone’s back? Well, this intense technique is called Ashiatsu and it’s not for everyone. My daughter is an athlete who like very deep massages, so when she heard the Ashiatsu massages were easy to come by in Houston, she tagged along for my trip to a pharmacy conference.
It was the first time she ever reported back that a massage was a little too much. While it wasn’t relaxing, it helped relieve some serious tension and she has been back since. Spa Alexis in Houston, Texas is a good place to visit if you want to try this technique.
A Thai Floor Massage Incorporates Yoga-like Moves, Stretching
My daughter had her first Thai massage in Bangkok and has been hooked every since. In basically every city we visited she sought out someone experienced in the Thai technique.
This style of massage is not for first timers. It combines deep tissue kneading techniques with assisted stretching. The therapist will reposition you in new poses and then help stretch your muscles by shifting and moving your body. Think of it as the lazy man’s yoga.
My daughter tells me that Raleigh, North Carolina’s Sukho Thai Massage is as authentic as the one she received in Thailand. I had hoped to try it while visiting my nephew at UNC, but I couldn’t work out the timing. Don’t worry, in these type of massages you are fully clothed so you can be stretched without having to worry about modesty.
A Mixed Thai Massage: The Best of Everything
My daughter took me to H Massage in Atlanta, Georgia as she had repeatedly explained that she had found the most unique and relaxing massage around. Their table Thai approach combines traditional Thai with elements of Swedish and deep tissue. At one point the therapist even climbed onto the table and I experience my first Ashiatsu massage. The masseuse used a bar over the bed to balance and adjust the pressure as she walked on my back during the massage. Toward the end, hot stones are placed along the spine.
If you want to dabble in a little bit of every style, H Massage is a must.
Chinese Foot Massage: Washes Away Worries
Sometimes you just need a little relief and a Chinese foot massage is the perfect solution. They start by bathing your feet and some stops even use hot stones to loosen aching muscles. Then it’s time for a mixture of kneading by hand and with specific tools that relieve pain you didn’t even know was stored in your feet.
This is the ultimate indulgent massage for someone who really just needs a break after a long day on your feet. Two Smiling Feet in Seattle, Washington is a cheap and cheerful option for this treat for your feet.
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