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.

 

 

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.

Chinese Cupping: It Sucks And I Love It

This is PART TWO of the Gua Sha & Cupping double treatment – first catch up on Gua Sha if you haven’t yet – a lot of it applies here as well.

Cupping. It’s one of those out-there spa treatments that most people vaguely hear about along the way, like an ancient Chinese folklore (two of those words are accurate, however) but most people don’t think to try it for themselves. What is it? In short, 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.

It’s similar to Gua Sha in terms of the holistic healing goals, but 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.

I had my first cupping treatment with Stephanie Maceiras, Licensed Acupuncturist at the Village Wellness Project in NYC. I quoted her in the Gua Sha post and it’s worth repeating here: “Nobody likes the bruising but everybody loves the way it feels, so it’s worth it.” Yes, the visual result of cupping is a bruise—simply blood being moved to just beneath the surface. That means it’s working! I only did a small dose of cupping for fear of long lasting bruises, but since it faded in only 3 days, I wish I had done more because the feeling afterwards was truly outstanding. My back seriously felt better than it had in years.

There’s sliding cupping as Stephanie demonstrated on me, where the cup moves up and down the body to get the blood moving evenly. It feels a bit like a massage, and the first cup she used was bigger and felt great. Then she used a smaller cup with a little more suction (she placed it on my back faster) and it started to hurt a bit. The pain means it’s working, but she released a little air to be less severe.

There’s also stationery cupping, where multiple cups are placed on your body at once. The longer it sits in one place and the stronger the suction, the more bruising occurs, as I saw when Stephanie left mine in one place to snap a photo on my iPhone – I had small, highly defined red circle on my back. A very intense version looks like this:

Don’t let this scare you – your practitioner has complete control over the level of cupping that occurs, and you by no means have to do it to this extreme to feel the effects. Here’s a look at a milder version, and the bruising that may occur:

Who is a candidate for Cupping? You are. Yes, cupping is a great treatment for anyone, just as a massage is, to improve circulation and general physical and psychological well-being. It helps treat everything from chronic pain to common colds, bronchitis and the flu. It alleviates back pain and tension tremendously, as I learned first hand. Some forms of cupping have also been used to treat serious medical conditions, such as blood disorders (anemia, hemophilia), arthritis and joint problems, muscular conditions, fertility and gynecological disorders, skin problems such as eczema and acne.

Another benefit? You could become a sexy Twister board for miniature colorblind people:

Gwyneth is doing it too!

Speak to your acupuncturist and find out how cupping could improve your health and well being. It is often paired with gua sha as you know, but it can also be combined with acupuncture and other holistic therapies.

Are you for cupping? Comment below and let me know if you’ve tried it or are thinking about it! And please never mention my comment about miniature colorblind people.

Village Wellness Project
80 E. 11th St., Suite 407
New York, NY 10003
Book on their website
To book with Stephanie directly, call 646-396-9756

 

 

This spa treatment was comped for editorial consideration, but all opinions stated are genuine and my own. Disclosure Statement

 

Photo 1 via

 

Gua Sha: Scrape Away The Stress (VIDEO)

“Nobody likes the bruising but everybody loves the way it feels, so it’s worth it,” promised Stephanie Maceiras, Acupuncturist at the Village Wellness Project in NYC, regarding the ancient Chinese body therapies Gua Sha and Cupping. Before trying these treatments out for myself I thought, why would I ever voluntarily want to get bruised up? Why not just go for a therapeutic massage? But then I thought about it: nobody would go near it unless it made miracles happen. Well… SPOILER ALERT! My back, which is prone to pain due to my scoliosis, has never felt so good.

This video and blog post is the “Part One” and focuses on gua sha—the next finishes off the treatment and goes into detail on the cupping. Skip to Cupping.

Gua sha (pronounced either gwah shah or gwah sah) translates to “to scrape away fever” in Chinese, and is performed by a practitioner palpating and scraping certain areas of a patient’s skin with a round-edged instrument, such as a spoon, like the one used to eat wanton soup. After oil is applied to lubricate the surface, a repetitive scraping (gua) brings stagnant blood (sha) to the surface of your skin, allowing fresh new blood to replace it in your muscles where it needs it most. It’s similar to the way a massage works, only way more intense. It’s not a painful procedure, just a little irritating because of the repetition. But according to Stephanie, a lot of people actually love the way it feels because you can feel it working immediately.

Bruising from Gua Sha, which faded completely after 3 days.

Who is a candidate for gua sha? Everyone. This lesser-traveled spa path helps remove toxins from the body very effectively, and helps treat everything from chronic pain to common colds, bronchitis and the flu. In my case, I was doing it for back pain; to relieve the stress of sitting at a computer for 8-12 hours a day. Asthmatics and athletes alike seek gua sha (and cupping) for pain relief because they offer immediate, highly effective results. If you have any open wounds you can still get gua sha, but your practitioner should stay away from them.

This results? Visually speaking, you’ll look like you have a rash, which will typically last for 2-5 days, but could be longer. Mine faded fully in about 3 days, and what you see to the left is what it looked like that night.

As Stephanie explains in the video, these treatments are not just healing and preventative, they can be diagnostic. Based on the color and how long the bruising lasts, your acupuncturist will be able to tell a lot of things about you. Do you have a blood deficiency? Poor circulation in certain parts of your body? The way your body reacts can help point practitioners and doctors to more effective treatments and recoveries. In my case, the left side of my back was bruising up faster than the right which meant I held more tension there, so she concentrated her scraping there.

I didn’t go through with a full treatment for vanity’s sake—as this was my first time, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t one of the people who stay bruised for two weeks (I sit at my computer a LOT). But now I regret it because the results were truly more incredible that I could have imagined. Sitting in my bed that night I felt a rush of vibrant energy in my upper back. Sitting at my desk the next day, my back beheld the power of the sun. It radiated yet a cool – not hot – sort of energy, and it also felt like a sponge taking in every delicious bit of oxygen around it. I sat up straighter and my back wouldn’t creak if I tried. This honestly may be my new favorite spa treatment.

Bruise me up baby, I cannot wait to go back! Now I want wanton soup…

See part two: CUPPING – IT SUCKS AND I LOVE IT.

Village Wellness Project
80 E. 11th St., Suite 407
New York, NY 10003
Book on their website
To book with Stephanie directly, call 646-396-9756

This spa treatment was comped for editorial consideration, but all opinions stated are genuine and my own. Disclosure Statement