Effleurage: The Foundation of Relaxation
Swedish massage relies largely on a technique known as effleurage. Learn how it zaps stress with Groupon's peek at this basic stroke.
Effleurage is the glue that holds a Swedish massage together. Its smooth, gliding strokes may not deliver much pressure—the word itself is taken from a French verb that means "to touch lightly"—but the technique simultaneously soothes the nerves, boosts circulation, and allows the massage therapist to identify problem zones that need extra attention. Because effleurage doubles as an assessment tool, many therapists begin each massage with it, usually by gliding their open palms lightly across the body to feel for tense spots and potholes while acclimating the client to their touch. This form of effleurage is known as "superficial," and it serves a soothing prelude, epilogue, and transitional movement between deeper, more focused kneading.
A slightly more forceful style of effleurage is known as "deep effleurage." This form still uses gliding strokes, only with more pressure, as the therapist aims to stretch out the muscle tissue and the web of connective tissue that covers it. Therapists will generally direct the first part of their deep-effleurage stroke towards the heart, finishing with a lighter return stroke away from it. Not only does this warm up tissues for deeper muscle work, but it can also speed up the movement of blood and lymph fluid. This boost in circulation can help drain fluid from injured areas, reducing painful pressure while also releasing endorphins that further relax the entire body.
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Guests at Relax Spa and Beauty – Burbank, winner of Citysearch's Best Relaxation Massage 2008, unwind with head-to-toe treatments. Aestheticians exfoliate complexions with one of their relaxing facials, uncovering brighter skin and erasing war paint left over from games of capture the flag. A collection of massage services coaxes tension from muscles, and body treatments remove dead skin cells from the surface with handmade scrubs or a eucalyptus body wash that cleans off unwanted grime and attracts neighborhood koala bears.
Celebrating their 10th year in business, Relax Spa and Beauty recently remodeled and expanded their facility and was also named a 2014 recipient of Best Massage Therapist by The Burbank Leader. The updated location, which boasts a much larger space, has reopened with a new look, services, products, and more that cater to everyone from couples to weddings and special events.
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Chaba Herbal Spa & Thai Yoga Massage’s owner traveled the world to bolster her therapeutic knowledge. She began studying the art of Thai massage in Bangkok, Thailand, at the Watpro Traditional Medical School. After finishing her program, she packed her bags and journeyed to Los Angeles, where she accumulated a pet palm tree and 500 hours of massage-therapy schooling with a focus on traditional Thai massage. She uses this combination of cultural knowledge and varied techniques to treat clients with massages that fuse multiple disciplines into one soothing session. She also surrounds her clients with Thailand-influenced decor, including green plants, live flowers, and bubbling fountains that ease stress. In addition to massages, the spa also offers skin and body treatments, waxing services, and reflexology sessions.
Past a beachy front lobby filled with vibrant plant life and wire-wrought furniture, warm wooden fixtures and deep violet massage beds await. It's there that owner Nina Wang and her staff perform their specialty treatments, from targeted facials to muscle-healing bodywork. Each skin care treatment is informed by a one-on-one consultation, helping customize the procedure and give skin the best shot at looking flawless. The rest of the body benefits too, as Thai yoga massage and hot-stone massage modalities are kneaded deep into sinews to release trapped tension or that song that's been trying to get out for days.