Massage Therapies: Great Gift Options for Mom (or Yourself!)

Massage—the very word includes “ahhh.”

Americans love the bliss and benefits of massage. Each year, we dole out nearly $12 billion on massage and related therapies, according to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner—as well as yard work and spring cleaning—we thought it was a good time to consider your massage therapy choices. Swedish, aromatherapy and deep tissue/sports are the most popular options, but interesting alternatives exist.

Hot Stone
Heat is supposed to be good for aching muscles, but putting hot rocks on your body sounds a little scary, right?

Relax. Hot stone massage is ideal for those who want pampering without the pounding. Massage therapists heat smooth rocks and lay them over muscle groups, warming tense body tissues. The rocks are also used during the massage, based on client comfort.

Pregnancy might give women that certain glow, but it brings back pain, too. At Plush Beauty Spa in Lincolnshire, massage therapist Anne Sites says that women at least 14 weeks into their pregnancy can enjoy a pre-natal massage, with their doctor’s approval.

“The gentle pressure promotes relaxation, can reduce swelling in the hands and feet, and reduces sciatic and low back pain,” Sites says. “It also provides important nurturing for the expectant mom.”

Shiatsu, one of the oldest forms of massage, is ideal for “anyone who wants to read the deeper messages their body has to tell them, and learn how tension may connect to internal organ issues or emotional states,” according to Steve Rogne, director of Evanston’s Zen Shiatsu Center.

Shiatsu eases sore muscles through compression of pressure points and meridian body points. Wear loose clothing, as you’ll be lying on a futon, allowing your shiatsu therapist to gently manipulate your body into yoga-like postures. The mix of movement and motion is intended to free up stored tension and flush it from your system.

Rogne reports that clients feel perceptible benefits after just one treatment.

Weekend warriors seeking deep massage with attention to flexibility are the newest converts to Thai massage. According to Highland Park therapist Julie Pluss, Thai combines deep tissue work with stretching and acupressure. “Thai improves the lymphatic system and releases toxins where energy may be stagnated,” Pluss explains. “But it’s relaxing, too.”

Thai massage is conducted on a futon; wear comfortable, loose clothing.

Tui Na
An emerging massage therapy in the U.S. is Tui Na, based in the traditional Chinese medicine practice. Tui Na is intended to bring balance to the body. Practitioners, including Hands On Therapy in Evanston, use acupressure and a rolling massage action to treat muscular tension. Given its medicinal origins, Tui Na is said to treat a number of internal (asthma, gastrointestinal ailments) and external disorders (sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow), according to the World Tui-Na Association.