Every time David Kuo got hurt playing sports as a child, his mother did what most mothers would do?she gave him tender affection and a couple of painkillers. And most of the time, he'd accept the love but toss out the pills. Growing up, David always felt there had to be another way of bolstering health and recovering from injuries aside from conventional medicine. Inspired by this notion, he went on to attain a BS in sports medicine from Pepperdine University before earning a doctorate of chiropractic from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1994.
Since then, Dr. Kuo?the owner of HealthSource of Pasadena?has helped patients to feel and stay healthy with treatments he says are focused on "supporting the body's own innate intelligence to heal itself." Blending his experiences as an exercise physiologist and sports-medicine specialist with his chiropractic training, he's treated an array of conditions ranging from lingering backaches to chronic bed-wetting to vision-impairing astigmatisms. Dr. Kuo often says to people, "I've gotten three women pregnant," jokingly referring to the female patients who've come to him for treatment because of difficulties conceiving or an immobilizing fear of storks.
Opened in 2007, HealthSource of Pasadena's 1,300-square-foot facility houses three treatment rooms, one massage room, and one rehabilitation area. Dr. Kuo emphasizes patient education by decorating the office with information-laden items, including anatomical posters that the licensed massage therapists use to show patients how the hipbone's connected to the knee bone.
Licensed acupuncturist and herbalist Peggy Lo calls on her master's degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine to create holistic treatments that help her clients achieve balance in their lives. Her expertise in a variety of healing modalities, including moxibustion, Qi Gong and tui na, and trigger-point quick-needling techniques helps her diminish clients' pain effectively without medication, and abdominal acupuncture, or Fu Zhen therapy, can often help banish allergies. Her talents even extend into the aesthetic realm through acupuncture facelifts and facial tui na.
Glowing with the warmth of thousands of contented sighs, the Royal Health Spa in Hacienda Heights offers a half a hundred ways to forget about your worries. Reds and golds dominate this sanctuary of serenity, which treats clients to steam rooms, saunas, and three temperature tubs. Elsewhere in the hideaway guests can kick back in the VIP lounge, or nibble treats from the fruit and snack bar.
Sister spa Sakura ups the ante with soothing massage and aromatherapy services to complement the steam sauna. Here, an assortment of thick carpets, bamboo wall fixtures, and hanging greenery completes the tropical feel. A San Gabriel Valley fixture for more than 20 years, Sakura Health Spa heals guests with uncommonly intense massages such as the Four Hands and the Lava Stone.
Ocean Spa's main studio looks as though a massage party will break out at any moment. Eight beds—each draped in red and white bedding—huddle together, emulating the communal healing experiences common in the Far East. But clients with privacy predilections can opt for a private treatment room separate from the main area. Either way, the experienced massage therapists apply palms and knuckles to muscle knots, tending to tension with custom, full-body strokes. In addition, the team also specializes in reflexology, the practice of addressing bodily ailments through the hands and soles of the feet.
A giant Buddha head greets every visitor to Sparadise La Brea, his wise eyes illuminated by flickering candlelight as a fountain babbles and simple greenery grows silently around him. This tranquil scene sets the mood for the entire spa, whose mission—much like the Buddha's—is to encourage visitors to reach a Zen-like state free from stress and physical pain.
The staff members work towards this goal with a slate of massage modalities and other relaxing treatments. Gentle Swedish strokes soothe surface tension with the help of warm almond, lemongrass, or eucalyptus massage oils, Thai yoga uses stretches, compressions, and gentle rocking to improve circulation and flexibility while also targeting acupressure points, and water-heated stones allow warmth to radiate and loosen taut muscles. With an emphasis on total-body relaxation, the Thai herbal foot spa includes a fragrant soak of herbs, oils, and teas that leaves the feet and legs as tension-free as a suspension bridge on the Moon.
At Wat Po Thai Spa, a 2010 nominee for Best Day Spa by Best of LA, technicians bolster well-being with services that range from traditional Thai massage to skincare. The house-specialty Thai Combo fuses Thai massage, Swedish massage, and reflexology into an international amalgamation of relaxation similar to naptime at the UN. Thai massage harnesses compression, stretching, and rocking techniques to improve circulation of vital energy along the body's pathways, and Swedish massage encompasses gentle strokes such as gliding, kneading, and stretching to increase oxygen flow in the blood and forge full-body tension relief. Patrons walk away from massage sessions with relieved stress, allayed aches, increased internal alignment, and enough flexibility to fold bodies into an empty Pringles can at the first sign of danger.