Although I’m not the “lying under the sun holidays” kind of guy, you can count me in for a spa retreat or a massage experience on the go. I’ve tried massages in a lot of our travel destinations, all the way from an informal massage at the locals’ hammam in Chefchaouen, through the typical Thai massages in Thailand, up to the 5-star resorts spa. It’s just something I never get tired of experiencing.
Nowadays almost everyone sits at a desk. Be it behind a computer or not, you are likely to have back pain or other muscle problems.
Even if you are more on the sports’ side, a massage during your holiday break or after an exercise session is likely to improve your wellbeing and help you get a good night sleep.
I welcome a good massage any time I can get one! They are great after a long trek, midway of a long trip with a lot of commuting, or just after a full spa day.
It’s also a good way to understand cultural differences and to get closer to the locals.
There are some things you should keep in mind when you are deciding on booking a massage, or before you head up to it.
A full stomach might get in the way from a good experience. Most massages will have you laying on your stomach, so you should be able to feel comfortable during it.
I don’t think there are many chances your digestion might stop during a massage, but taking one right after you eat will probably bring you some discomfort.
Also be sure to be hydrated, just not too much, as you don’t want too much pressure in your bladder or the need to use the loo halfway through.
Health conditions and allergies
Most parlours will give you a questionnaire or the masseuse will ask you directly. Even if they don’t give you that opportunity, you should signal any bone or muscle problems.
As to allergies, keep in mind that massage oils are produced from natural seeds or fruits/vegetables. If you know you are allergic to a particular product (peanuts, essential oils, etc), let your masseuse know right away.
Most spas will give you a disposable thong you can put on and throw out after you’re done. You can wear a bathing suit or underwear, as long as they are not too big and you are not afraid they get stained by the massage oils.
I’m not sure you could go all-natural in all cases. Although that shouldn’t be a problem in Northern countries where they have mixed saunas, keep in mind that it might be forbidden or just a cultural don’t in some parts of the world, or it might just put your masseuse off. Oddly enough, in Muslim countries, hammams are used alternately by men and women. From Lina’s experience in Morocco, it’s a place where women can free themselves from their more conservative clothing, thus they even seem to feel bad when you don’t go almost strip naked as most of them do.
There’s not much you actually need to do during the massage besides laying down and rolling over, but even that might bring some challenges.
It might seem easy, but, just like mindfulness or meditation, relaxing is challenging. Your brain won’t shut off right away, and you are likely to linger on your thoughts throughout the whole ordeal. Just be sure not to contract any muscles and keep as loose as you can.
The type of massage you choose will dictate the amount of pressure you’ll be experiencing.
A shiatsu massage is probably the most pressure you’ll ever feel. It’s not too far from a Thai massage, but, regardless of the massage type, you can always advise your masseuse on the pressure you feel more comfortable with. Higher pressure will probably make you react by contracting other muscles, counter-effecting the whole purpose of the massage.
In any case, wether you forgot to say something in advance or you are feeling some pain on a certain muscle, you should always tell your masseuse. Remember, this is a “you” experience and that’s the only way they will be able to understand what is best for you.
If you do it right, you will be able to extend that nice feeling for a little longer.
Take your time
The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no rush. Linger into the feeling and transition as slowly as you can. Plus, your muscles are fully relaxed, so a sudden stretch might get you into trouble.
I would advise you to avoid temperature clashes and heavyweights. Your body will likely be warm and loose, so a sudden cold breeze might contract your muscles and ruin your investment. Just be on the safe side in terms of the amount of clothes you put and avoid shopping or lugging your backpack or luggage right away.
As your body will be covered in massage oils, it’s best not to go to the pool or shower right afterwards. Let your skin absorb them before you wash/rinse them off.
Relax some more
If you can relax some more! It can only do you good!