Health December 19, 2018

Treat Yourself

Massage in its many styles

When it comes to massages, one might picture relaxing, facedown on a table, with a massage therapist gently stroking one’s back, a candle burning, maybe some light music. But the types of massage and the experiences that accompany them range far and wide. What follows is a roundup of the offerings in the Wood River Valley and the benefits to be had from each style of massage.

The type of massage most commonly experienced by people is likely Swedish massage, known for its long, firm strokes and kneading that help alleviate tired muscles and generally soothe the whole body. “Swedish massage is meant to induce relaxation, promote fluid movement (as it pertains to water retention issues) and much more in the calmer, quieter relaxation realm rather than addressing pain,” explained Jessica Crofoot, a reflexology specialist based in the Seattle area. Swedish massage can help improve circulation and flexibility, relieve tense muscles, and inspire relaxation.

Sports massage is a big draw for active residents of the Valley. Using deep-tissue techniques and trigger-point therapy, sports massage can help enhance sport performance, prevent injury, and speed recovery from intense athletic activities. The practice employs a range of techniques, meaning you’re likely to get quite a lot out of one massage: from Swedish to deep tissue to facilitated stretching. And whether you’re a professional athlete or just sore from some skiing or weekly gym sessions, sports massage offers something for everybody.

For those looking for something a little deeper in their massage, Ashiatsu might be the answer. An ancient form of body work, Ashiatsu is performed by a massage therapist who supports herself with bars suspended from the ceiling and uses strategic foot strokes along with gravitational support to give a firm, compressive massage.

Hot stone and Himalayan sea salt stone massage can be incorporated into various types of massages. The hot stones have a soothing effect that can help tired muscles and to rebalance the body. “Himalayan sea salt is one of my main tools nowadays,” offered Amy Nelson of Karmic Grace in Ketchum. “It’s a huge asset to clients because our skin is our body’s largest organ. We warm the stones, so it triggers a parasympathetic response, which takes you out of your ‘fight or flight’ mode or the sympathetic nervous system.”

Thai massage offers more assisted stretching than massage itself. It is a series of facilitated stretches combined with pressure points that will loosen muscles and encourage stretch. “Thai massage is a combination of pressing, twisting, squeezing, bending, pulling, and compression,” explained Taweesin (Ton) Yenphiboon of Ton’s Traditional Thai Massage in Ketchum. Molly Holt, spa director over at Zenergy, added, “Thai massage is for a client looking for something out of the box. It’s like facilitated yoga to get into deeper poses, coupled with massage.”

For those seeking something gentler, or those having problems in the neck or lower head area, cranial sacral massage is a great reset. This massage is a soft-touch practice that releases restriction in the soft tissues surrounding the central nervous system. “It’s an amazing energy treatment, definitely not for a client looking for a firm touch,” explained Holt. “It involves subtle movements around the neck and the base of the head. It’s the best rest you can have.”

Another form of stretching, like Thai massage, is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS), a whole body movement that works to stretch a specific muscle or muscle group. Whether you are active or not, anyone can benefit from AIS, as we all get stiff and locked up from various activities in life. A massage typically follows an AIS session for best results.

In many of our lives, we are putting stress on our lymphatic system through all of the chemicals and toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. A detox or lymphatic massage can help facilitate the removal of these toxins from your body, as well as help with circulation, reducing edema, and enhancing cellular renewal. “The lymphatic system is really the garbage disposal for the body system,” explained Nelson of Karmic Grace. “The lymphatic system is a one-way system that acts like a valve taking unhealthy fluids out of the body.”

Designed with a very specific client in mind, prenatal massage is great for expectant mothers for a number of reasons. It can help with common pregnancy discomforts and also reduce stress and promote overall wellness. “Expecting mothers will find that regular prenatal massages during their second and third trimesters can enhance sleep, reduce pain and swelling, and generally assist in lowering stress as the delivery day draws near,” explained Tracy Harper, director of spa and fitness at The Spa at Sun Valley. “Third-trimester massages can even help prepare pelvic muscles for the birthing process.”



Various types of massages are available at the following businesses.

Sports: Integrated Bodywork, Ketchum Bodyworks, Jenifer Tyrer, LMT, Ton’s Traditional Thai Massage, Sun Valley Massage, Time Out Massage

Swedish: Integrated Bodywork, Zenergy, Hands of Light, Sun Valley Massage, Time Out Massage, Adaptive Bodyworks, Body Ease Massage Therapy, Sun Valley Mobile Massage, Kristy Johansen Nurturing Therapeutic Massage

Prenatal: Zenergy, Adaptive Bodyworks,
The Spa at Sun Valley

Ashiatsu: Zenergy, Body Ease Massage Therapy, Kristy Johansen Nurturing Therapeutic Massage

Hot Stone/Himalayan Sea Salt Stone Massage: Zenergy, The Spa at Sun Valley, Karmic Grace, Body Ease Massage Therapy, Kristy Johansen Nurturing Therapeutic Massage

Thai: Zenergy, Ton’s Traditional Thai Massage, The Spa at Sun Valley

Cranial Sacral:Zenergy, Hands of Light

Reflexology: Jenifer’s of Australia, Zenergy, Hands of Light, The Spa at Sun Valley, Body Ease Massage Therapy

Neuromuscular:  Jenifer’s of Australia, Sun Valley Mobile Massage

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS): Zenergy, Sun Valley Mobile Massage, Kristy Johansen Nurturing Therapeutic Massage

Detox/Lymphatic:Karmic Grace, Jenifer’s of Australia

This article appears in the Winter 2018 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.