Unique Bodywork and Massage Modalities that Deliver the Best Results

Bodywork and Massage Modalities that Deliver the Best Results
Esteemed destinations tout their most successful bodywork and massage services that provide transcendent mind and body benefits.
Photo courtesy of alipko

Esteemed destinations tout their most successful bodywork and massage services that provide transcendent mind and body benefits. 

What are your favorite massage modalities to administer?

Kevin Ramsey, LMT, body care innovation manager, Massage Envy Franchising: I have found that most individuals respond well to a cumulative mix of technique, modality and sometimes tools. Some commonly used techniques are myofascial release (MFR), neuromuscular therapy (NMT) and craniosacral (CS) modalities. A calming atmosphere and deeply relaxing techniques can put the therapist’s mind and body at ease, just as much as the person receiving it.

Connie Ruiz, lead therapist, Spa at Esperanza, An Auberge Resort: One of my favorites is the Hot Stone Massage, where the combination of heat and pressure loosens tight muscles, promoting flexibility. The long, calming strokes reduce tension, spasms and localized pain, making it a truly therapeutic and relaxing choice.

Tara Grodjesk, president, Tara Spa Therapy; VP, Earthlite: I prefer the Esalen Massage technique and polarity therapy. It has all the connecting strokes that are so comforting and healing to the heart and the whole being. An Esalen Massage is truly a holistic approach of integration of body, mind and energy. Polarity therapy provides a gentle energy balancing that is a great way to open or close any session.

Laura Conroy, director of education, THE WELL: Lymphatic drainage is one of my favorite massage modalities. It's relaxing and beneficial for everyone, as it helps keep fluids moving and balanced, but it can be especially powerful for people recovering from injury or surgery, or battling an infection. It's a great example of the power of bodywork.

Rebecca Olpin, director of education, Sorella Apothecary: Combining different massage modalities within a single service can provide a more comprehensive and tailored experience for clients. Integrating techniques like deep tissue and trigger point therapy with the flowing and rhythmic movements of lomi lomi can offer a well-rounded approach to addressing both physical tension and stress reduction. Deep tissue massage is effective for targeting specific muscle knots and tension, while trigger point therapy focuses on releasing tight points within muscles. On the other hand, lomi lomi, originating from Hawaiian tradition, emphasizes broad, sweeping motions to promote relaxation and a sense of harmony.

Stefan Torggler, team member, FORESTIS Spa: The Tree Circle Ceremony stands out as my preferred massage modality to administer because of its profound connection with nature and its ability to tap into guests’ intuition. This ceremony seamlessly blends ancestry, intuition and nature, creating a meaningful bridge between guests and the locale. Drawing inspiration from the teachings of the Celts, guests actively participate in the treatment by intuitively selecting from among the four tree options: spruce, larch, stone pine and mountain pine. This unique customization allows them to align the treatment with their current mental state and the prevailing season, resulting in a truly personalized experience.

Chik Lai Ping, SVP of the Spa Division, YTL Hotels: Working harmoniously with the spirit of water, flow and that relaxing feeling one has when gently rocking on the river Thames, we created The Floating Massage. The Floating Massage is performed floating on a warm water cushion, enabling the body to be more free and flow rhythmically at the therapist’s touch. We take our own twist on a combination of lomi lomi, qigong and dance to lull our guests, while their own body weight is leveraged to allow for surprising depth of pressure. All this is made even more hypnotic with projected holograms of waves that fill the room.

Luh Sukesni, spa manager, Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach: I prefer Oriental reflexology and thumb kneading techniques combined with palm pressure, stretching, long and firm strokes, performed in a rhythmic method.

Related: The Basics of Trauma-Informed Bodywork

Which bodywork tools are most beneficial?

Molly Flora, spa director, Keswick Hall: We use a few tools in our treatment rooms such as the Therabody Theragun Elite, silicon cups, herbal poultices and warm stones. These tools enhance the ability of our therapists to provide our guests detailed, therapeutic bodywork that stimulates circulation, reduces muscle pain and promotes relaxation.

Kimberly Carley, director of operations, Spa Adeline: Among our most valued bodywork tools are our in-house crafted aromatherapy oils. These oils, meticulously prepared by one of our skilled massage therapists, serve both functional and sensory purposes.

Christina Cabrera, director of spa and fitness, Spa La Quinta: Warm stones help soothe sore muscles and promote relaxation. Percussion decreases muscle tightness and soreness, and enhances recovery. Cryotherapy is used to reduce inflammation and increase energy. Infrared, red light and blue light therapy are ideal for detoxification, skin purification and boosting the immune system. Each tool brings unique benefits, enhancing the treatment while helping the technician. 

Mary Bendure, lead therapist, Cedar Creek Spa: I love adding lava shells to gently warm the muscle tissue, and I add Biggs & Featherbelle Achy Muscle Balm at the conclusion of the service on specific sore muscles. This combination ensures my guests leave with a sense of deep relaxation throughout their body following the massage.

Ruiz: Percussion therapy, featuring tools like Thera Gun and Hypervolt, are the go-to tools for treating chronic pain, relieving soreness and promoting relaxation. Another valuable tool is gua sha, which is ideal for toning skin on the face and neck, reducing inflammation, and stimulating collagen and elastin production.

Grodjesk: I can’t live without the Tara herbal ease, neck wrap and uni-pack that delivers moist heat therapy to release stress and soften tight bound up muscles in preparation for massage.

Olpin: Wood rollers, stones, trigger point tools, and various therapy modalities like heat and cold therapy can be valuable additions to address specific concerns. These tools not only contribute to the effectiveness of the massage, but also assist therapists in maintaining their own well-being by reducing strain on their hands and body.

Torggler: At the spa, native trees further enrich the journey, with each of the four trees (spruce, larch, stone pine and mugo pine) corresponding to therapeutic wood, healing stones, acoustic frequencies and movements. These instruments harmonize time rhythms and energy flow, offering an effective anti-stress treatment to rejuvenate both body and mind.

Ping: We enhance our hand skills with the energetic properties of crystals. We use rose quartz, citrine and obsidian to dive deeper into the energy body, as well as loosen bound fascia.

Sukesni: Tibetan singing bowls, river stones and herbal compresses are especially beneficial.

What unique touches can spas add to their massage and bodywork services?

Alison Kirsten, director of spa and wellness, Fairmont Spa Century Plaza: We can add numerous special touches to both massages and bodywork services. Examples include: hot stones, cryotherapy, CBD lotion, body butter, aromatherapy, exfoliating back scrub and body butter, and a hair and scalp warming oil.

Andrea S. Barone, CEO and founder, Crystal Hills Organics: Spas can truly elevate their massage and bodywork services by incorporating crystal infusions. In today's crystal craze, integrating crystal-infused products or actual crystals into these treatments not only sets the spa apart, but also provides clients with a holistic experience that nourishes their body, mind and spirit.

Samantha Gould, director, Gould’s Salon Spa: Unique touches can include hot stone therapy, aromatherapy oil, scalp treatments, sugar scrub feet treatments, eye treatments, hand and arm rejuvenation or foot rejuvenation.

Flora: We offer our guests a variety of massage oils, including a signature scent created just for Keswick Hall by Tara Spa Therapy. We provide our therapists with massage education classes to enhance their knowledge, as well as training on how to create heartfelt, nurturing interactions with our guests.

Ruiz: Elevate spa experiences by incorporating healing techniques such as craniosacral techniques, energy balancing and conscious movement, like Feldenkrais exercise therapy or Bones for Life motions. Guests experience the benefits for longer periods, including changed movement patterns, relief from pains and aches, and the release of trapped emotions from tissues.

Bendure: We add hot, moist towels on the guest’s back and feet at the end of their service to comfort and induce a deep state of relaxation.  We also offer hydrating, sanitary paraffin treatments for the hands and feet, particularly to help fight winter’s harshness on skin extremities. 

Grodjesk: Always add an eye pillow to remove sensory light stimuli, so that the client can enjoy deeper relaxation, and always use heat therapy on the tummy. As we know, the intestines and abdomen are very connected to the nervous system and Ayurveda, so when we bring therapy to this area, we allow the body to enter a deeper state of relaxation.

Olpin: The treatment table is a crucial element in enhancing the overall massage andbodywork experience for both the client and the therapist. Adjustable features such as table angles, temperature control and ease of access contribute significantly to the comfort and effectiveness of the session. Adjustable angles allow therapists to position clients optimally for various techniques and address specific areas of concern. This customization ensures that the massage is not only effective but also comfortable for the client. Additionally, features like temperature control can create a more soothing and relaxing environment, enhancing the overall experience.

Torggler: We employ a blend of essences, along with therapeutic woods and healing stones, to fully harness the benefits of this practice. Moreover, we’ve incorporated structured opening and closing rituals for every Signature Treatment, ensuring that our guests feel pampered from the outset to the very conclusion of their spa journey.

Ping: Beyond the now-standard aroma inhalations, foot cleansing and breathwork, a simple massage can be made magical with small details: a warmed rolled towel under the neck when the guest turns supine; delicate floral mists of indigenous herbs and flowers; warming the guests’ slippers in a slipper cabbie; a thoughtful fond farewell gift; sound or vibrational healing touches; guided meditations—there are so many options!

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