Travel Tuesday: Spa Treatments to Fight Jet Lag

Medically referred to as desynchronosis, jet lag is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body’s circadian rhythms after rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel.

Jet lag may last several days until one is fully adjusted to the new time zone, and a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed is typical. The symptoms of jet lag can be quite varied, depending on the amount of time zone alteration, time of day and individual differences. They may include the following:

  1. Migraines and headaches
  2. Fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, Insomnia, grogginess, irritability
  3. Dehydration
  4. Body aches, swelling and pain
  5. Constipation or diarrhea

Luckily, spa treatments are a fabulous remedy for jet lag, so now you have the perfect excuse to head straight to your hotel spa after landing. Here’s our guide to the best jet lag spa treatment for you:

1. Migraines and Headaches:
The symptoms of migraine headaches are debilitating: stabbing head pain, nausea, stomach cramping and migraine auras. This can leave a sufferer feeling weak, tired, and depressed long after the migraine attack has subsided. While a migraine attack can last for days, the psychological aftermath can be perpetual. Migraine ranks in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses and about 36 million people in the United States suffer from migraines. There are numerous methods used to try and help ease the unbearable symptoms. Conventional medicine and prescription drugs offer little relief from the condition some people cannot rely on pills, like pregnant women. Many are turning to alternative methods of treatment in order to manage the pain. Massage therapy is often used to complement other traditional medical migraine treatments or other alternative treatments. Tense muscles and stress can aggravate migraine headaches. Visiting a massage therapist for a massage while a migraine is in progress can reduce muscle pain and tension.

2. Fatigue, insomnia, irritability:
There is a simple correlation between sleep and massage: insomnia is associated with a lack of serotonin and massage increases serotonin levels. Studies have demonstrated the necessity of serotonin for healthy sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to the body’s rendering of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the brain to quiet and reset the part of the brain that directs your body to prepare for sleep. Many over-the-counter drugs have melatonin in them, but why not encourage your body’s own production? The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin and, in turn, melatonin. Massage therapy can improve the quality of life by not only relieving the pain; it can also impact mood and induce positive sleeping patterns. By relieving the pain that keeps you up at night tossing and turning, your body will get the much needed time it craves to restore and to heal. Additionally, lowering anxiety and improving mood can help a person get their life back in order. Massage therapy offers both immediate results, as well as long term.

3. Dehydration
There are two ways to fight dehydration at the spa: one is to hydrate your through your skin with water treatments, the second is to infuse rejuvenating oxygen into dehydrated cells on a nuclear level. Water treatments: A Vichy Shower is a unique aquatic therapy that invigorates your body while laying flat under powerful water jets, inspired by treatments used in the French city, Vichy. Watsu, short for Water Shiatsu, is a massage performed in a warm, shallow pool.  The water gently cradles the guest so the massage therapist can work the full 360 degrees of your body and your skin reaps the benefits of being saturated in water throughout the entire treatment. Oxygen treatments: Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy, which dissolves oxygen in the blood plasma and all body cells, tissues and fluids at up to 10 times normal concentration—high enough to sustain life with no blood at all. Oxygenating facials are also increasing in popularity, as oxygen continues to secure its reputation as the #1 skincare essential.

4. Body aches, swelling and pain:
Massage can eliminate muscle tension and improve joint mobility by stimulating the flow of synovial fluid. This also helps to free adhesions, break down scar tissue and decrease inflammation. As a result, massage can help to restore range of motion to stiff joints. Massage also brings in fresh nutrients and helps in purging the body of toxins accumulated due to long periods of stress and tension. It causes more oxygen to flow in the body, which helps the body to revive and rebuild itself. With this flow of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the entire system, the immune system is strengthened. Additionally, massage clears your mind of exaggerated anxiety and makes you capable of thinking with an unclouded mind. When you are bodily and mentally relaxed, you are capable of taking a more balanced and fresh perspective of your life situation.

Another spa treatment option to target swelling and aches and pains is Electro-lymphatic drainage (ELD), which uses gentle electric currents, massage, and heat to increase circulation and stimulation along the body’s lympathic pathways. The lymphatic system helps clear excess fluid from the cells and distributes powerful immune cells which work 24/7 to heal and repair your body. ELD treatment boosts immunity, relaxes the whole body and mind, reduce pain, evens skin tone, and increases energy.

Acupuncture was developed 3,000 years ago and is based on Taoist philosophy. Like the treatments above it focuses on energy meridians and permits the body to “heal itself.” It does involve inserting fine needles into key points of the body that relate to different organs in order to relieve muscular, neurological and arthritic problems, cure disease and relieve pain. Acupressure has been practiced in China for centuries and is believed to improve the flow of chi (energy) throughout the body. This massage releases muscle tension and promotes healing by applying pressure to “energy points” or “meridians” in the body. Pressure is applied to these points with the finger for a deep tissue feeling.

Cupping is a healing therapy that uses suction on the skin’s surface to “suck” stagnant blood from deep beneath the surface, mobilizing blood flow and delivering a range of benefits. Bottom line, it greatly improves circulation—the holy grail of spa benefits. Similarly, Gua Sha offers holistic healing, but is different in method and strength. Unlike the scraping technique of Gua Sha, traditional Ancient Chinese Cupping employs a glass dome that becomes a suction cup after a flash of fire. Scraping mobilizes blood just beneath the surface, while the mighty suction of cupping is able to stir up blood deeper within the body.

5. Constipation or diarrhea
The idea behind a colonic is that food enters the intestine and a lot of it doesn’t get flushed out (especially if you’ve overindulged on food and alcohol while on vacation), causing toxins to accumulate, which can result in illness. Especially in today’s world, where we’re breathing polluted air and consuming pesticides, our bodies are overwhelmed trying to get rid of it all. So a little “push” now and then from a colonic can really helps the digestive system do its job better. Colonics allow the nutrients and vitamins to be properly absorbed into the body again. If you have a sluggish colon (AKA are constipated often), a colonic gets the muscles moving, making your colon stronger and more effective at disposing healthy, solid waste. It is also believed that a clean colon helps your body fight disease, because instead of focusing on expelling built up toxins in the colon, it fights toxins elsewhere.



Gorgeous on a Dime: A Guide to Spa Week’s Most Popular Massages

By Jenna Nicole Levine

Speaking as someone with a high pressure job who drinks too much coffee, stress is an aspect of my daily life that is hard to avoid. Work, social, and financial pressure can translate to increased risk of illness, ulcers, and depression (and people constantly saying my favorite sentence, “Wow you look tired!”) While it is impossible to cut out all the stress in your busy life one of the easiest ways to ease the effects is massage therapy. Stress is the #1 reason Americans go to the spa. Not only does a massage relieve the initial feeling of stress, but it also relieves the most pressing symptoms stress causes, such as stiffness, lack of energy, and insomnia.  In addition, a good massage can improve posture, increase circulation, and lower blood pressure.  The best part is that with Spa Week right around the corner you now have the ability to get an A+ massage for only $50!

If you are a little overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the Spa Week menu, below are a few of the most popular massages available, and the benefits that come with them.


1. Swedish Massage

The Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage in the West, and a great introduction to massage for all you newbies out there.  During a Swedish massage the therapist uses oils combined with a series of stokes to relieve tension, break up muscles knots, and increase circulation.  Before you start your session tell your therapist of any injuries you may have, and what you are looking to achieve from your session.

(Try: the 50 Min October Harvest Swedish Massage with Choice of Cinnamon-Ginger Essential Oils or Cranberry Body Butter at The Spa at Boncaldo’s in Quincy, MA)


2. Hot Stone Massage

The basic principal of the hot stone massage is simple. The therapist uses smooth heated stones in varying shapes and sizes to loosen your muscles and aid in the flow of energy. This is generally accompanied by a Swedish massage to increase circulation and promote healing.  Additionally, the heat from the stones allows the therapists to work more quickly and efficiently because it loosens your muscles for them. It’s a win/win for all.

(I, personally, will be getting my Spa Week Hot Stone Massage at Magdalen’s Pure Skincare in Rockville, M.D.)


3. Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage relies on essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus to either promote healing, breathing, or relaxation. The therapist can tailor their treatment based on the experience you wish to have during your session. Aromatherapy has been shown to relieve the symptoms of asthma and can even assist in the prevention of hair loss. It’s the most relaxing Rogaine on the market.

(TRY: 90 Min Body Massage, with Choice Aromatherapy… or Thai Traditional Yoga Massage, Japanese Shiatsu, Thai Deep Tissue,  Thai-Oil Combination Therapy or Foot Reflexology at Bahn Sabai Day Spa in Los Angeles, CA)

4. Acupressure Massage

Acupressure follows the same principals of acupuncture in which the therapist applies pressure to certain meridian points of the body to relieve pain. The only real difference between these two Ancient Chinese practices is acupuncture uses needles, while acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of the hand.

(TRY: Both acu-pressure and -puncture with the 60 Min Acupuncture with Cupping and Auricular Acupressure at Cinnabar Acupuncture Clinic & Spa in San Diego, CA)

5. Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles and is great for those with persistent pain and a physical lifestyle (if you are a runner or a mom who is constantly holding a 10 pound infant this is for you).  Deep tissue is often confused with deep pressure which involves sustained strong pressure throughout the full body, and not to address a specific area.

(TRY: 50 Min Customized Massage with Choice of Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Relaxation or Muscle Therapy Techniques and Warm Foot Cleanse at one of the 78 LifeSpa locations participating)

Visit Spa Week for a list of the participating spas in your area, and remember Spa Week is the perfect time to get YOUR well deserved massage. On top of your massage why not indulge in a facial, some laser hair removal, or a spray tan. As Michelle always says, make it a spa adventure! This week is designed for you to pamper yourself at a low cost, so take advantage and take care of yourself.

Jenna Nicole Levine is a native New Yorker turned Washingtonian. When she isn’t writing about ways to save you cash on your favorite beauty treatments, you can find her living the low cost life. To read more from Jenna Nicole please visit Woman Around Town, Gal Time, or just stop by and say hello on her twitter @Jenna_Nicole.

Top 10 Hottest Spa Treatment Trends for Fall 2011

Picture a world where job and family stress disappears at the door, where the only goal is bringing you UP, to make you healthier, happier, better looking, and to make you feel absolutely amazing. Step into to the spa.

But really… step INTO it. The wellness lifestyle is brewing with new opportunities, delving far beyond the basic massage and facial. Industry leaders are constantly innovating to deliver extraordinary relaxation, mind-body improvements, and tangible results. When’s the last time you’ve gone to the spa and tried something new? We’ve leveraged our exclusive relationships with hundreds of spa partners to extract privileged industry information to release the most accurate and trustworthy assessment of the direction of spa services to date. We are excited to release to you… Spa Week’s top 10 hottest spa treatment trends for Fall 2011.

Treat yourself to a wellness and beauty adventure this Spa Week® - $50 spa treatments across North America, October 10-16, 2011. The Fall spa directory launches September 12, when you’ll be able to see which spas are offering which services. Try one, try all— Spa Week is the time to indulge and experiment. All these treatments, many of which are usually anywhere between $100 and $500, will be available for just $50 a piece!

1. Shirodhara

We know what you’re thinking: Shiro-whata? Don’t try this at dinner, but drizzling warm sesame oil onto one’s forehead is extremely therapeutic. Shirodhara, which dates back to India circa 5000 years ago, is now being incorporated into more and more spa menus, and seen as an add-on to Western treatments like body wraps and Swedish Massages.

It’s the good kind of oil spill:
The ritual’s steady spilling brings physical and emotional balance while giving hair an extreme conditioning. Shirodhara is known to calm nerves, release stored emotions, purify the mind, and fight fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and headaches.

2. Bamboo Massage

De-knot your body by getting rolled out like a sugar cookie with a Bamboo rolling pin-esque Massage. The massage therapist will knead, glide and roll a Bamboo reed along shoulders, back and legs to pamper and penetrate tense muscles.

The benefits of Bamboo-ing:
Bamboo Massage promotes blood circulation, improves sensory nerve perception, and does lymphatic drainage. Bamboo also symbolizes longevity, luck and strength, making it a somewhat spiritual spa experience.

3. Cupping and Gua Sha

Did you ever wish you could literally suck or scrape the pain and soreness right out of your body? With the ancient Chinese healing therapies of cupping and Gua Sha, you can!

How it works:
Cupping uses suction on the skin’s surface to “suck” stagnant blood from deep beneath the surface, and Gua Sha “scrapes” the skin to mobilize blood flow in a similar fashion. Both alternative therapies provide extreme pain and tension relief, especially on the back. These therapies are becoming more and more mainstream, despite the temporary bruising it causes, as new consumers experience their drastic benefits.

4. Acupressure

No pressure to get pricked here. Acupressure employs the concept of acupuncture, (the granddaddy of healing) only rather than needles, it uses physical pressure of hands, elbows and other devices. Practitioners target specific points along the body’s energy pathways, or “meridians,” to encourage healing and balance in the individual.

What it’s good for:
Relief from allergies, chronic arthritis pain and migraines; pain-sufferers can reap the benefits of this ancient Chinese medicine without fear of being poked.

5. Bottoms Up at The Spa

It’s always happy hour at the spa, but more and more spas are incorporating alcohol into their treatment offerings.

On the cocktail menu:
Champagne and wine-infused treatments can smooth skin tissue, stimulate blood flow and are a powerful ingredient in anti-aging. Beer yeast is rich in elements that increase skin elasticity and improve acne by suppressing sebum. Even Scotch Whiskey is showing up on the spa scene; it’s full of sugars, minerals and vitamin B6, giving it excellent hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Shellac Attack

There’s been a lot of hype around UV Manicures, especially the popular Shellac Manicure since it first launched last Spring – the hard lustrous finish! The zero dry-time! The 14-day no chipping/smudging/denting promise! And did you see the Shellac flash mob? A cross between gels and a regular manicure, products like Shellac and Axxium are certainly no fad, as the color selection gets larger and trendier each season.

Why Shellac?
Spa-goers love Shellac Manicures because they get a long lasting, no-mess result, and spas love them just as much because it brings in new clients and revenue, without increasing the service time. Shellac Manicures are a win-win!

7. Men’s Treatments

Did you know men make up for 31% of active spa-goers? And did you know the most common spa packages offered are for men, with 45% of U.S. spas offering such a package? By incorporating no-frills, guy-friendly scents like sandalwood, mustard seed, eucalyptus and thyme, spas are able to successfully market to men.

What services are considered guy-friendly?
Hot Shaves, Gentlemen’s Facials, Golf Ball Massages and more have enticed male consumers to experiment and experience the health benefits of the spa just as frequently as their female counterparts (who, oftentimes, are the ones who got them hooked!).

8. Mobile Spas  (not to be confused with Spa Week’s Mobile App)

With more and more mobile food establishments rolling around the country serving gourmet dishes and desserts, spas aren’t far behind. One of the emerging trends is getting your massage, facial, or other spa service street-side, in a spa on wheels.

Why go mobile?
Mobile spas are in high demand as they conveniently bring the day spa experience right to your home, office or venue. With gas prices at an all-time high, the mobile spa experience saves time and money, and is now a popular and sought-after addition to wellness and bridal parties and even corporate events.

9. Deep Sea Spa-ing

The word “spa” is derived from water, so it is a wonder that water-based spa treatments are so often overlooked. The Jacuzzi is perhaps the most well-known version of “hydro-therapy,” but more and more aquatic treatments like Hammam Rituals, Vichy Showers and Watsu are a booming trend, especially in hotel spas.

How to H2O:
Each of these water treatments utilized hydro-thermal therapy to relax tight and sore muscles and promote smooth and cleansed skin all while stimulating blood circulation to promote healing. Hammam Rituals combine heat, aromatherapy, steam, bubbles, water and mud to cleanse the skin and detoxify the body. A Vichy Shower is a unique aquatic therapy that invigorates your body while laying flat under powerful water jets, inspired by treatments used in the French city, Vichy. Watsu, short for water Shiatsu, is a massage performed in a warm, shallow pool.  As the water gently cradles the guest so the massage therapist can work the full 360 degrees of your body.

10.   Spa with a Conscience

“Green” spas and treatments are thriving right now in the industry; spa owners are making critical revisions by incorporating renewable energy, holistic and eco-friendly services and indigenous ingredients into their businesses, and it’s paying off in the long run.

But how?
More and more consumers are considering a spa’s environmental philosophy, along with price and location in their decision to visit a new spa. Spas are practicing conservation by purchasing organic linens, biodegradable aesthetic gauze and eco-friendly cleaning supplies to keep each guest sanitary and safe during their appointment. How’s that for a feel-good spa day?

Mobile spas photo courtesy of Appease Inc. Shellac photo courtesy of CND.

How to Choose the Most Pressure-able Spa Treatment

Guest contributor: Shelby Jones, Public Relations Manager, ISPA

It can be tough to decide on the right spa treatment. What’s the difference between acupressure and acupuncture anyway? To make the right choice, the first step is to do some homework on your options, then talk with your spa therapist about the right treatment to meet your goals. Being the generous resource that we are, we’re giving you the Cliff Notes version on acupressure, shiatsu and acupuncture below to help you get started.

Acupressure has been practiced in China for centuries and is believed to improve the flow of chi (energy) throughout the body. This massage releases muscle tension and promotes healing by applying pressure to “energy points” or “meridians” in the body. Pressure is applied to these points with the finger for a deep tissue feeling.

Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique literally meaning “finger pressure.” It’s similar to acupressure because it works with the body’s energy meridians and uses finger-thumb-palm pressure. But, unlike acupressure, which is more of a pinpoint massage, shiatsu manipulates other parts of the body to stimulate balance and healing.

Ashiatsu is the opposite of shiatsu and translates to mean “foot pressure.” The therapist uses overhead bars to balance and apply just the right amount of pressure. It borrows the same techniques as shiatsu and acupressure by utilizing energy points on the body to release tension. (Side note – I’ve tried this treatment, and it’s fantastic if you like deep pressure. Need a better visual? Watch this video of Michelle getting walked all over.)

Acupuncture was developed 3,000 years ago and is based on Taoist philosophy. Like the treatments above it focuses on energy meridians and permits the body to “heal itself.” It does involve inserting fine needles into key points of the body that relate to different organs in order to relieve muscular, neurological and arthritic problems, cure disease and relieve pain. (Side note – I haven’t tried this, but Michelle has, and I have been assured that the needles don’t hurt.)

If you want to learn more about different spa treatments visit ISPA’s spa glossary at

If you’re in the spa industry, we encourage you to become a member of our partner ISPA; weekly emails with pointers like these are just one small part of the package to help you succeed!