Massages are a real treat. After a hard day’s work, soothing massage therapy is like heaven. They help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve our overall well being. Practiced for the same reasons today, massages have existed since the ancient times. They originated from a variety of civilizations all over the world. Massages come in different types and forms and are performed in several ways, mostly depending on the body’s needs as well as the desired results. Typically, though, massages reflect the rich cultural experience of the place they come from.
In the modern times, massages involve a wide range of supplies, equipment and facilities. There are scientific principles behind each technique applied. Usually, a massage involves smooth and fluid, gentle or hard movements that stimulate the body, such as stretching, pressing and stroking on pressure points. It all boils down to giving people a well-deserved relaxing, rejuvenating and therapeutic treat.
Each massage therapy technique is unique, regardless of it being an old or new method. It can stand out as strange, wacky or odd ways of healing the body and keeping the physical, psychological and emotional balance in check. Here are 15 massage therapies everywhere that truly deserve our attention.
15. Snake massage
Many massages and spa treatments around the globe are downright odd. Topping the list might be this massage that scares the wits out of people even before the session begins. Have you ever seen a gigantic python? How about having that python (and some of its friends) massage your entire body? Seriously, what can go wrong with using one or two 550-pound snakes or many smaller ones slithering across the body for a therapeutic 15-minute massage? People in Southeast Asia aren’t complete strangers to this terrifying massage, but it does draw crowds that simply think it’s worth a shot. However, for the rest of us whose lives are spent trying to get away from such wild creatures, the snake massage may just be the thing to avoid.
14. Cactus massage
Mexico is known for its sprawling desserts filled with cacti. Perhaps it was this cactus abundance that led them to discover the plant’s health benefits, thus the introduction of the cactus massage. Contrary to what most people think, however, this type of massage isn’t painful. The paddles are used for the massage but not before removing all of the needles. The hydrating effect makes this massage experience really exquisite. What’s more, select parts of the cactus are also blended with tequila for better hydration. The massage might sound like it hurts but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a lot of people think that what the cactus massage brought them was a whole new level of calm, not to mention supple and hydrated healthy skin.
13. Meat cleaver massage
The Daoliao is a centuries-old Chinese technique for natural therapy. It is the infamous knife massage that is now famous in Taiwan. Essentially, this trend involves a knife hitting the customer’s face and body as a form of therapeutic massage. The idea, according to the rules of the ancient treatment, is that when used with a special massaging technique, the steel cleavers help detoxify the body and improve the blood flow. To most of us who know what that kitchen tool is for, it’s almost unbelievable how people leave the place without a bruise or a scratch. More importantly, they come out in one piece and are incredibly satisfied. For those who do not dare, it’s almost like a bloody disaster waiting to happen. Seriously, one mistake is all it takes!
12. Elephant massage
Elephants, the enormous animals that they are, are among the gentlest in the world. These creatures are incredibly heavy but they can be your massage therapists. Yes, you read that right. In Thailand where elephants are in abundance, the beautiful beast lifts its giant foot and places it on the person for a gentle massage. The idea is for the weight of the elephant’s foot to put a suitable amount of pressure on the body. This business, however, is usually associated with cruelty to the poor animal and has since been the subject of debates. Most tourists in Thailand are even boycotting this experience. Here’s to hoping it gets regulated or completely stopped before the gentle elephant finally snaps and ends up injuring the person it’s supposed to be massaging.
11. Fire massage in China
Want a fire massage? Literally, Chinese massage therapists will be more than happy to give you one. China is known for its odd massages and this technique is definitely a must-try. The Fire Massage is a method that utilizes—you got it—fire for relaxing and therapeutic “me” time. In this massage session, the customer gets massaged the traditional way before using either rope and cloth and alcohol to create fire and “roast” the customer’s body! While that sounds downright scary, the truth of the matter is that it actually isn’t. In fact, a lot of people are surprised by how relaxing the experience is for them. They say that they feel the “gentle heat” shooting parts of their body and that it is indeed instrumental in relieving stress.
10. Slapping massage
Who would have thought inflicting pain on someone could be so beneficial to their health? This seems to be the twisted principle behind the slapping massage. As its name suggests, this method which originated in ancient Thailand hinges on the principle that the face has energy lines that can be opened up by slapping. The face slapping massage is believed to help relax the muscles as well. The method involves combining gentle pats and painful slaps or smacks to stimulate collagen production in the face to achieve plump skin. It is also known to improve blood circulation. If you’re up for an unconventional facial massage that guarantees results and you don’t mind the pain, line up for the slapping massage. But if you don’t want pain, you’re going to have to skip this.
9. Snail massage
Another massage that possibly creeps people out is the snail massage. It is a relatively new trend in beauty treatment and relaxation. The snail is essential to skin regeneration, according to beauty studies. They are known for their mucus that is believed to help get rid of unwanted scars, wrinkles, burns and other ugly marks on the face and body. As such, the snail—or about three of them—are placed on the face and allowed to slither up and down. While this form of treatment or facial massage has risen in popularity in Russia, Europe, Japan and more countries, the thought can still be mortifying for some. For the unconvinced, it’s hard to imagine putting a live, slimy gastropod on that precious face and expect it to be flawless thereafter.
8. Blind massage in the Philippines
When it comes to delivering massage services, the types and categories make up a long list. In attending to clients’ specific needs, it is said that blind people have an advantage. The idea of blind massage started in 8th century China, where the Buddhist monk Jianzhen performed a massage with greater efficacy after losing his sight. It is said that because loss of eyesight is generally associated with heightened sensitivity, blind masseuses and masseurs are better at what they do. They rely heavily on their other senses, including the sense of touch. It all sounds like an effective way to relax and rejuvenate but to some, the idea of having a vision-impaired individual trying to heal ailments through a massage may not be as appealing as other people may think.
7. Mud bath massage
A mud bath is popular these days as people try to look to nature for ways to keep themselves physically relaxed and rejuvenated. The deep heat from the geothermal mud used in Vietnamese mud baths is considered beneficial to the skin and body. Contrary to how mud is usually perceived as dirty and germ-filled, it is utilized in Vietnam for massaging the body. It is known to offer relief from pain and anxiety and improve blood circulation while also serving detoxification purposes. When the mud bath is done, customers are often led to a steam room or sauna. Most packages also include a foot spa, a Jacuzzi experience and finally a dip in the pool. Unless individuals have problems with the idea of mud touching their naked body, the entire experience sounds like a treat.
6. Tickling massage
Have you ever had a massage experience that made you chuckle or laugh out loud because it tickled? In Spain, the technique in tickling massage is all about relieving stress. It does away with the usual pressing and pounding that could be easily traumatizing; it’s just soft fingertips and the feathers trailing and touching the body. The massage takes place in a dim-lit room where soothing music plays and aromatic oils are a pleasure to the nose. Customers can talk to their therapist about adjusting the technique so they can experience the massage without getting too distracted. We can’t help but feel sorry for some people, particularly the ticklish ones who might find it hard to relax the way they should during a massage or spa treatment!
5. Gondola massage
In Venice, Italy where traditional gondolas are a fairly common sight, magic happens. We’re not talking about the gondola ride in the Venice canals; it’s the massage aboard the gondola that’s making waves among locals and tourists. Customers who could use a 40-minute massage therapy are cradled quietly and comfortably by the gondola and taken to a specific spot in the lagoon. This alone is a big step to relaxation, as the gentle waters rocking the gondola and the breeze make it a comfortable experience. A spa therapist performs full body massage using a special blended oil that is essentially a concoction of sunscreen, Vitamins E and F, peach milk and coffee oil. There is nothing terrifying or unpleasant about this type of massage, unless you aren’t big on being in the outdoors—and in a public lagoon, no less—for it.
4. Gua sha massage, China
A variety of the cupping massage, the Gua Sha massage in China utilizes a smooth-edged item performing a series of pressured strokes over the skin that has been massaged with lubricating oil. Traditionally, therapists would use their magical yet inexpensive tools such as a horns and bones of animals, worn coin, spoon, or jade. More commonly, a round-edged metal cap is used. Some herbs such as ginger root is poured over the body before proceeding with the actual massage running from the top to the spine to the bottom. Having some instruments press against your skin and your muscles for deep massage isn’t always a pleasant experience for some. For those with high tolerance for pain, this one is a must-try. For some, however, it is off-putting to realize that inflicting pain is necessary to achieve overall health and well being. Seriously, those patches on the back look like they really hurt!
For a hands-on massage in all its rawness, hilot in the Philippines does not disappoint. In the rural areas, there is usually a fellow, mostly an elderly person, who is believed to have the ability to heal through a massage. Upon gaining the trust of the community with no-nonsense hilot, the manghihilot or therapist becomes known for this skill. Word usually reaches the neighboring villages in no time. As a result, the manghihilot usually enjoys popularity and gets surprise visits from people who drove long hours just for the experience. With hilot, the expert is believed to be able to spot why each customer is suffering from physical pain and whatnot. The massage is characterized by applying ample amount of pressure on specific spots in the body that hurt or need some massaging.
2. Hammam in Morocco
The Hammam in Morocco is a massage that is infamous for its intriguing twist. The experience starts with being completely naked in a bath among with other people in a steam room. After sitting in a cubicle for minutes and possibly getting the opportunity to chat with total strangers, the actual bath follows usually with hot water poured from the head to the toe using black soap for washing. This is followed by a skin exfoliation session that peels off about three layers of the skin! Finally, a nearly back-breaking massage happens. All these sound rough and far from relaxing, but customers swear that the results are worth it. For people whose idea of a massage is a gentle and soothing time, it might be best to scratch the Hammam off that list.
1. Hot cupping in China
A 3,000-year-old Chinese medical tradition, cupping is hinged on the old maxim of removing stagnation, congestion or blockage from within the body in order to ultimately remove the pain. When the regular flow of the body’s energy, fluids and even blood is disturbed, pain happens. And so the obstruction needs to be stopped. In essence, hot cupping therapy uses a special type of heated cups on the skin, particularly in the back to create suction and dispel stagnation. Oriental healing traditions prove that this technique dramatically improves a person’s energy flow and empowers the body to fight against common ailments. Be warned; hot cupping in China isn’t exactly a relaxing process. In fact, it results in big, round marks and bruises that take about a week to heal!
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