A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
At Pure Essentials Day Spa, therapist Yencid Hiller surrounds bodies in a 27-ingredient wrap that nourishes and detoxifies tissues. Just as an Italian mother swaddles her young in lasagna noodles, Yencid blankets clients in a quilt of herbs and allows each curative element to soothe and slim the figure. During the 90-minute treatment, clients lie supine in a serene pastel-colored room as toxins exit fat cells. After a cocooning, clients can lose upwards of 20 inches, resulting in a svelte figure that easily shimmies into packed elevators and tucks behind trees during hide-and-seek.
The licensed massage therapists at Massage Alaska vaporize stress with a menu of both soothing and rehabilitative body treatments acted out within a powder-blue room. The list of modalities extends from basic relaxation massage to more intense deep- tissue massage and myofascial release. Natural aids such as hot stones, warm canes of bamboo, and badgers with velvet gloves suffuse the homey studio with the serenity of the forest. Nail techs also groom men’s and women's fingers and toes, evincing Massage Alaska's dedication to hygiene by using disposable implements.
At Alaska Pain & Injury Clinic, Dr. Evan Tipikin straightens out crooked spines and wayward lifestyles with chiropractic care, massage therapy, and nutritional counseling. Though his list of services runs long, a single philosophy unites them all: no two bodies are quite the same. That’s why Dr. Tipikin insists on conducting a full evaluation each time he sees a new patient. During your initial visit, he may jot down notes on your reflexes as well.
Armed with that knowledge, the doctor and his team develop personalized plans to heal injuries and relieve chronic pains. Massage therapy and corrective exercises work to alleviate some of those bodily troubles, with the clinic's nutritional counseling and advice services helping patients reach the next level of fitness.
Naturopathic practitioner Dr. Dawn Lamb tests the body's electrical system for allergen-caused disruptions as patrons interact with 15 foods in a one-hour process. Clients select suspect foods beforehand, picking out possibly hazardous snacks such as gluten, colorings, or pennies from leap years. Unlike other food-allergy tests, electrical-impedance testing requires no needles, blood draws, or skin pricks. After the procedure, Dr. Lamb can suggest healthy alternatives to any foods disqualified from mealtime rosters.
Swedish and deep-tissue massage are two bodywork approaches that render very different benefits. Read our guide to choose the best option for you.
The relationship between deep-tissue and Swedish massage is much like that between DayQuil and NyQuil. Both are designed to help you feel better, but the one that makes the most sense depends on your individual needs. Here's what to expect from each of the two modalities:
Swedish massage combines four distinct motions—effleurage, petrissage, friction, and tapotement—to help relieve muscle tension and stimulate blood flow, thereby energizing the body and soothing the mind during a single relaxing session. The four phases are easy enough to distinguish. Effleurage refers to the smooth, gliding strokes that help relax soft tissues at the beginning of the treatment, followed by the squeezing, rolling, or kneading gestures of petrissage. Deep, circular motions make up the friction phase, in which layers of tissue rub against one another to boost circulation. Therapists conclude the massage with tapotement, a rapid cadence of percussive taps performed with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand.
Whereas Swedish massage focuses on relieving mental and physical tension, deep-tissue massage has more specific concerns. Due to stress and other factors, the layer of connective tissue that covers and interpenetrates the body's muscles and bones—the fascia—often tenses up, resulting in muscle knots and a painful buildup of lactic acid. Deep-tissue massage aims to warm up the fascia and release the accumulated toxins. To achieve this, the therapist’s fingers, thumbs, and elbows move along the body in slow, deliberate strokes, applying pressure to penetrate beyond superficial muscle layers. Although the intensity can produce some discomfort, deep-tissue massage should still be relaxing; the goal, after all, is to relieve the tension between muscles and their weird roommate, the skeleton.
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