Chronic Pain: 8 Spa Treatments That Ease the Aches
Whether suffering from a nagging sports injury, an all-too-strenuous workout class, or the fact that you’re simply getting older, chronic pain is enough to drive a person crazy. Luckily, spas offer a solution: Here are eight treatments said to ease the aches.
Acupressure: A randomized, controlled trial found acupressure to be “significantly more effective than physical therapy in reducing chronic lower back pain.”
Acupuncture: Various trials and reviews have concluded that acupuncture can alleviate pain, chronic tension-type headaches, neck disorders, and osteoarthritis pain, among other ailments.
Cryotherapy: In the cryotherapy cold sauna—found at spas like British Columbia’s Sparkling Hill—you can spend up to three minutes in temperatures of -110° C to help ease pain, aid in joint and muscle function, and more.
Massage: We believe massage has healing powers, and evidence backs up our claim: Massage releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, into the brain and nervous system, lowering pain and discomfort; it also stimulates nerve receptor signals to temporarily block chronic pain signals from reaching the brain. Shiatsu, where the therapist applies strategic pressure to muscles and connective tissues, is good for lower back pain; modalities using lymphatic drainage and deep-tissue techniques also have been spotlighted as good choices for alleviating chronic pain. As well, in a Cochrane review of 24 studies, participants exposed to healing touch, therapeutic touch, and reiki experienced moderately lower pain intensity, with reiki producing the strongest results.
Meditation: It reportedly pays to say “ommm,” as a University of Pittsburgh randomized, controlled pilot study found older adults with chronic lower back pain showed significant improvement in “chronic pain acceptance, activities engagement, and physical function” following eight weeks of meditation.
Steam Room: Steam exposure has been reported to provide temporary relief to those dealing with chronic pain or muscle conditions. If you fall into this category, check with your local spa to see if they have a steam room you can use prior to your spa service.
Whirlpool: Athletes have long been advised to soak in whirlpool baths to relieve chronic pain or recover from injury—and some spas take this notion seriously. For example, Kohler Waters Spa taps into H2O’s therapeutic properties by showcasing rituals like the RiverBath (50 mins; $120/$140), where spa-goers are cocooned in eight soft color shades and vitalizing whirlpool jets.
Yoga: Yoga has the potential to have a positive effect on low back pain and function, according to a Peninsula Media School (UK) systematic review of five randomized control trials.
Of course, you should always seek the advice of a qualified medical or health service provider before proceeding with any medical, fitness, or wellness treatment, program, or product.