Spa cheers to health!

Mention  the  spa and you can almost hear a chorus sighing: wouldn’t that be nice? Let’s face it, most of us dream of a visit to the spa.   Whether we have ever visited one or never have set a foot in one, spas never fail to evoke the ultimate, ever-elusive feeling of relaxation and pampering we usually reserve for the elite and glamorous.  And yes, isn’t it nice to feel like a celebrity and indulge yourself in a world all your own, even if only for a few hours?

The Rochester area is host to many wonderful spas, yet reading a spa menu and picking a service can be an intimidating, confusing experience, if you are not familiar with the treatments. Mud wrap, wine wrap, seaweed  wrap, herbal wrap, salt glow, sugar scrub, body mask, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, aromatherapy massage, reflexology. Yes, it can be overwhelming when trying to get the best value for your visit.

While one could argue that spa treatments are pricey, and some of the menu descriptions can lead to many skeptical glances, their health benefits are well founded. Hydrotherapy, Seaweed wraps and body masks fill spa menus around the world and have been enjoyed by many for their acclaimed therapeutic properties.

Hydrotherapy is a well-known therapy in the United States and is widely offered in spas around the country. This therapy is the main treatment in many European countries with a long standing tradition of medical spas going back to the Roman baths, and reached its peak of popularity at the beginning of the 20th century and the Victorian bath houses. These medical spas combine allopathic medical treatment and alternative medicine modalities to improve the overall health of their clients and have been in vogue for the last 30 years. They are usually built around a natural mineral spring and offer hydrotherapy (thermal baths) for pain relief to stimulate blood circulation. These facilities are sometimes prescribed as part of a post surgery rehab protocol in many European countries.

Hydrotherapy baths are recommended for a vast array of ailments such as circulatory disorders, spinal column issues, arthritis, rheumatism and osteoporosis, among others.  Hot springs are high in salts and sulphur, which are absorbed by the skin into the blood stream.  As a spa lover myself, I think of the wonderful hot springs or “ojo calientes” that fill the Southwestern US and California.

Moor mud wraps are also a popular treatment in the spa to enhance the healing of the hydrotherapy baths. These are used to treat joint ailments or simply to rejuvenate the skin. Moor mud is a combination of organic materials such as flowers, herbs and grass deposited at the bottom of a swamp that in time and due to the lack of oxygen turn into a peat. When the mud is heated, a combination of acids, minerals, vitamins, hormones and trace elements are released, absorbed into the skin, and deposited into certain parts of the body. Europeans have used these baths since the 14th century.

Detox Seaweed Wraps are inspired by the ancient purifying rituals of Japan and have become very popular thanks to the weight loss community. They involve the application of either a 100% seaweed powder paste, seaweed strips or a mix of seaweed powder and clay, and some may add essential oils to support kidney elimination. Their true health benefits are best achieved when applied by a massage therapist focusing on enhancing the lymphatic drainage and the circulation. The treatment usually starts with light dry skin brushing that exfoliates and prepares the skin for the absorption of the seaweed nutrients. Seaweeds are rich in minerals, especially iodine, which may aid with balancing electrolyte metabolism and the elimination of extra fluids accumulated at the epidermis. The client is wrapped into a cocoon in a muslin sheet, thermal blanket and extra blankets and left to rest while listening to relaxing music.  Toxins are eliminated through the skin as a slightly raised body basal temperature is induced. This is a wonderful treatment, providing you don’t suffer from claustrophobia and can lie still comfo¬rtably on your back for 45 minutes. For an ultimate de-stressing session include a mini facial and a neck and scalp massage if desired.

Do they work? When done properly Body Wraps are truly mind body and spirit healers. Seaweed Wraps work well as a part of a holistic program to lose weight. A series of 6-10 wrap is always recommended to obtain longer-lasting effects. However be aware of inch loosing claims, since even when achieved they don’t tend to last more than a couple of days. Regardless of your intention when booking your Detox Wrap it is one of the best anti-stress treatments available at the spa. Your skin will feel hydrated, smooth and possibly tighter, but results will vary according to the specific hydration levels of each individual between treatments. If you are an ecofriendly green-consciousness kind of person, make sure your spa doesn’t use mylar foil blankets as these aren’t readily recycled and do not biodegrade!

The ever-growing demand for anti-aging treatments has gone beyond facial, anti-wrinkle treatments into whole-body treatments.  As a result body masks such as cacao, shea, mango, and kpangnan, packed full with free-radical scavenging antioxidants and rich in vitamin E and A, are found in spa menus across the country. Viniotherapy, or wine therapy, uses wine by-products such as grape seeds, skin and stems rich in polyphenols and resveratrol.  These polyphenols are said to reduce 80% of the free radicals responsible for wrinkles and skin aging. They can accelerate wound healing and stimulate new cell growth, according to Lynn Curry, senior vice president of NRI, a leader in the international and medical spa consulting industries.

So go ahead, please yourself. Keep that New Year resolution alive by treating yourself like the Goddess you know you are. Find the spa of your dreams and cheer yourself to health this spring!