Every year during cold and flu season we do a bit of education on massage and illness. This year we’re getting some different questions due to COVID19 and the wide community spread in Iowa.
Every year during cold and flu season we do a bit of education on massage and illness. This year we’re getting some different questions due to COVID19 and the wide community spread in Iowa.
Q: I have a fever, but tested negative for COVID19, can I get a massage?
A: No. Fevers indicate inflammation. Your immune system is fighting something and you need to rest. Right now, everyone is so focused on COVID19, that we’re forgetting other illnesses like strep throat, the flu, or even a kidney infection can knock us down for a bit. In addition to spa services potentially making you feel worse, some of these illnesses are very contagious and we do not want to get them or risk spreading them to other guests. Please wait for at least 48 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications) after your non-COVID19 related fever is gone before scheduling a service. Your body and provider will thank you.
Q: My household member tested positive for COVID19 but feels fine. I’m asymptomatic and tested negative. Can I keep my appontment?
A: NO! We answer variations of this question at least daily. Please understand that we owe it to our employees to provide a safe workspace. We are following the most up-to-date CDC quarantine guidelines. This means that if you’ve had a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID19, you cannot book for at least 14 days since that contact. If you live with this person, that means 14 days since the last contact you had while they were considered contagious-EVEN IF YOU TESTED NEGATIVE.
We know this is a long time. We know this is frustrating. We are committed to following the same procedures for our providers to keep YOU safe too, so if we let them see you, we’d have to take them off of our schedule for 14 days. No spa service is worth that health or financial risk.
Q: I had COVID19 awhile ago and I feel pretty crummy, can I still come in?
A: Yes! When your healthcare provider has determined you are no longer contagious (which might be longer than 2 weeks for more severe cases) we are happy to see you. We currently see several guests who have struggled with longer-term complications from COVID19, the “Long-Haulers.” While there’s still much research needed, we know that this is a source of stress, anxiety, and physical discomfort. We’re here to listen to your needs and do whatever we can to assist you through your recovery.
Learn more about our COVID19 risk reduction procedures here. We look forward to taking great care of you at East Village Spa and pandemic or not, will continue to strive to ensure your services are safe, relaxing, and therapeutic.
The weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day always bring lots of questions about couple’s massages. These are a fun way for people to enjoy time together, but ridiculous and unrealistic “reality” TV show portrayals of couple’s massages can leave people baffled about what they can actually expect. Here’s are the top 5 things our therapists want you to know if you’re thinking of booking a couple’s massage.
1. Couples massages aren’t just for romantic couples.
At East Village Spa we see mother/daughter and BFF duos in the couples room frequently. Particularly heartwarming for our LMTs are the times our licensed massage therapists get to treat family members together when one person is looking after a loved one with an intellectual or memory impairment and chooses to relax with their family member in the same room to help them feel comfortable. A couple’s service is appropriate as long as both parties are comfortable disrobing (to whatever level they choose) in front of each other and sharing health information with their massage therapist in front of the other party.
2. Let your partner relax without judgment
During a massage, people fall asleep and snore. Your massage therapist sees that as a compliment (and if the session is geared towards relaxation massage, this is the goal!) During a couples massage, let your loved one be themselves, even if they are sawing logs next to you. One of our therapists’ pet peeves during couples massages is when one guest scolds their significant other for snoring during a session. This startles not only your partner but both of the massage therapists too. Don’t wake your sweetie, let them snore! If snoring will interfere with your ability to relax, you might consider booking your services in separate rooms.
3. Don’t stare (or glare) at your partner’s massage therapist!
Licensed massage therapists are health care providers with extensive training and high ethical standards. Nothing is more awkward than one when a guest receiving a couple’s massage stares (or in some cases, glares) at the therapist providing a service to his or her significant other. This makes us incredibly uncomfortable and self conscious. When someone stares at a massage therapist, it is difficult for us to focus on the task at hand: attending to your loved one’s muscles and tissues, watching for subtle signs of discomfort or relaxation to help us provide the best therapeutic service we can.
4. Couples massages on reality TV are far from real!
We’re amazed by the number of couples who want to hold hands during their session. If your tables are close enough for you to hold hands, then they are too close for your massage therapists to work around. Nobody wants only half of their body massaged! Hold hands on your walk to and from the treatment room, but enjoy your own relaxation space on the treatment table. Rose petals on the table might look pretty on camera but in reality, they’ll stick to you and smash into the carpet and your therapist will end up having to pick them all off as he or she goes. Lastly, you won’t be staring longingly st each other, deep in conversation. You’ll be resting quietly face down in the face cradle or face up looking at the ceiling, much safer, more comfortable positions for your neck.
5. Do you! Couples massages don’t need to be the same.
Some people think a couples massage will be perfectly synchronized, but in reality, they are completely customized for your unique preferences in pressure, technique, and focus area. For example, one person can get a sports massage and another can get a prenatal side-lying massage in a couples service. As long as the massages are the same length of time and we know in advance which services you want so we can pair you with the appropriate specialists. Some services like hot stone massage or our barefoot bars aren’t available in the couples rooms due to space and equipment availability.
Ready to book a couple’s massage? Give us a call at (515) 309-2904. Online booking isn’t available for couple’s services, but we’re happy to help over the phone. We look forward to helping you relax together! Be aware that these services are so popular they are often booked several weeks out for evenings and Saturdays so please plan ahead! We do keep a waitlist for last minute cancellations, so don’t hesitate to add your names to the list for those who like to be more spontaneous. Learn more about our services online!
Blog by Cassie Sampson, LMT, Owner and Justin Behanish, LMT, Managing Massage Therapist at East Village Spa in Des Moines, IA.
Years ago, I was seeing a spa guest for frozen shoulder pain. She’d been in a few times previously. This visit was different. I tapped at the door to see if she was ready, and she was wrapped in the sheet, standing and sobbing. I offered her some water and sat with her on the massage table. When she was able to slow her breathing, she explained that she was having a panic attack. She had just had an MRI for her shoulder a few days prior and had a panic attack in the machine. She said it was terrifying. When she put her face in the face cradle of my massage table, the same feeling washed over her and triggered a panic attack.
We decided we’d continue with the treatment, but we modified it to the sidelying position (think sleeping on your side) on the table with the sheet covering her, but draped lightly with her arms and feet out so she felt free to move. This position made all the difference and we did sidelying massage for the next few visits.
Guests prone to anxiety or panic attacks may also benefit from shorter sessions and slower techniques until they get used to the idea of massage. Sometimes faster massage techniques can be too stimulating for someone who is already on alert. Taking slow, deep breaths before and during the session can help as well. It is also helpful to ask your therapist what you can expect during the session (I call this a “road map”) so you can relax your mind instead of wondering what is coming next. Know that you have the right to ask your therapist to stop or take a break.
Some guests, especially those who have a history of abuse, no longer feel comfortable in their own bodies. Massage can be a safe way to experience touch and massage therapists can even share self-massage techniques to help with stress management and to reconnect an individual with his or her body (American Massage Therapy Association.)
Some clients who have experienced abuse feel more comfortable receiving services where they can be fully clothed. Treatments we offer that can be done without disrobing include foot massage, assisted stretching, Craniosacral therapy, acupressure, Shiatsu, and even facials or nail services. All of these include safe touch and allow guests to control the session. They can stop or modify the service at any time. It is important for guests to share their needs with their provider so their provider can check in more frequently to ensure comfort or see if adjustments can be made, allowing their clients more control of the session.
Guests who experience PTSD also benefit from massage therapy. A 2012 study found that veterans who received massage therapy reported significant reductions in physical pain, tension, irritability, anxiety, and depression (Collinge et al, 2012). Again, it is important for massage therapists to ensure guests are in complete control of the session. Therapists should ensure adequate time to address questions before and during the session. Guests should feel comfortable speaking up, whether they need more or less pressure, a change in position or technique, or to take a break or stop a session entirely. At East Village Spa, we understand the need for massage therapy to address PTSD for our military personnel. We offer a specially priced “Military Massage” to make massage therapy more accessible.
Whether you are living with a mental illness or are anxious about trying massage therapy, know that modifications can be made to ensure your comfort. Your massage therapist is not a mental health counselor, but he or she should be a good listener, able to suggest or accommodate changes to your session so you feel entirely in control. If a therapist is unable or unwilling to honor your needs, or if you have had an uncomfortable experience in the past with massage therapy, consider trying it again with a different therapist. Communicating your needs and preferences before the session is essential to ensuring you will get the massage you deserve.
Learn about the our massage therapists here. If you’d like to discuss the options that would be best for you, feel free to call us at (515) 309-2904! We would be happy to help you find the best service and providers for your unique needs.
Resource: Collinge W, Kahn J, Soltysik R. Promoting reintegration of National Guard veterans and their partners using a self-directed program of integrative therapies: a pilot study. Mil Med. 2012;177(12):1477–1485. doi:10.7205/milmed-d-12-00121
I’ve never shied away from talking about my own mental health challenges. Starting from my early teen years (did you know half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14?*), I visited many doctors and GI specialists for digestive disorders that had become life limiting, to the point of agoraphobia (fear of leaving my home or comfortable spaces). I had to take uncomfortable tests that showed everything was fine. This caused more frustration because everything was not fine. Sorry if this is TMI, but I was eating Immodium like candy to survive high school.
The issues worsened in college, to the point that one year, I developed such an extreme fear and anxiety of being in the claustrophobic dining hall because of my digestive issues, that I ate only what I could make in my dorm room. It wasn’t until after college that I realized that all of the abdominal problems that triggered such panic were actually caused by anxiety in the first place. Once I managed the anxiety, I managed my digestive issues and got my life back.
Talking openly about mental health was a key to managing day-to-day life. In the late 90s and early 2000s, this was not the norm at school or work, even though anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). It wasn’t until I started massage therapy school in 2005 that I found a place where this was encouraged. In fact, we regularly checked in as a group on how we were feeling, how different types of massage techniques impacted our bodies and minds. It was normal and expected to share the changes and emotions we experienced. Some techniques alleviated anxiety, some techniques exacerbated anxiety.
Sharing this information helped all of us gain a broader body of knowledge so when we saw clients in the real world, we’d have a basis for understanding their experience with massage massage therapy and we learned helpful modifications to sessions. By working on students with diverse health needs, we’d see things like a class partner having a panic attack and stopping a session in class, we’d learn other ways to position a client who feels claustrophobic with the head rest, or even how to fine tune our massage speed to help calm a classmate with a racing mind. When we encountered these sessions in our practices, they weren’t new or scary, and we were able to help provide our clients with whatever the needed to feel comfortable, whether that meant ending a session, changing a technique or position, or taking a break to just breathe.
Many of our massage clients live with mental illnesses or go through challenging mental health periods. We understand because these are issues that our providers or their loved ones experience too! In my next post, I’ll share some of the ways massage therapy can be beneficial for people struggling with mental health challenges, and how we can modify services to meet your individualized needs.
Book your East Village Spa massage at www.EVDaySpa.com. Curious about massage therapy as a profession? E-mail us! [email protected]. I’m happy to share about my own experiences and help you find a good school.
On October 1st, we debuted our new, revamped massage therapy menu that offers more flexibility to help you get exactly what you’re looking for. Because the expanded menu means more choices and more customization, this post will help you sort through your options to pick the best service for your needs from the options that are the most popular:
EV Signature Massage: This is a 60 or 80 minute full body relaxation-oriented massage with a few fun upgrade options including a variety of hydrating Farmhouse Fresh products in rotating scents. Choose from a warm hydrating honey back mask and a few hot stones incorporated into your session OR a back scrub to boost circulation and a hot towel compress. Available with every therapist. Best for:
Total stress relief
Light to firm pressure
Feeling pampered and relaxed
People who love fun scents, warmth, a circulatory boost
Targeted Therapy Massage: This is a 30, 60, or 80 minute massage focused on a few areas of pain to help you achieve your wellness goals. Your therapist has the flexibility and discretion to incorporate more specialized orthopedic techniques, stretching, tools for myofascial work like massage blades or cups, heat or cold applications. Only available with sports or orthopedic trained therapists. Best for:
Athletes looking for pre or post event work
People seeking to enhance athletic performance or improve activities of daily living
People who have a specific injury or issue to focus on (i.e. frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis)
People seeking specific results
Pressure can be very firm, but this isn’t necessary for some of the most effective techniques.
R&R (Relax and Recover) Massage: This 60 or 80 minute massage is no frills, all skills. A full body moderate to firm pressure massage. Think of it as the happy medium between the EV Signature Massage and the Targeted Therapy massage. All of our massage therapists offer this service. Best for:
People who prefer a totally unscented massage lotion
People who want to “feel” the massage but still just zone out and relax
Full body work, with perhaps a bit of extra focus in one spot.
If I had to pick one question that makes the front desk cringe the most, it would be “But really, who is your BEST massage therapist?” First of all, asking me that question is like asking someone with kids “Which one is the best, surely all of your kids aren’t good, right?” Second, this is a totally subjective question and the therapist that is best for me one day is not best for me another day. And the therapist who uses a style I’m least fond of may be our most popular.
I liken it to music. If I asked 100 people at random to tell me the best band that ever played at Wells Fargo Arena, answers would range from The Eagles, Garth Brooks, Drake, Lorde, Slipknot, Green Day and more… Some people would be annoyingly passionate about their response, believing it to be the One True Answer.Also, musical tastes change over time and even from day to day. Just because you had an incredible experience for your first massage (which is what we hope for every single massage client anywhere, ever!) doesn’t mean it is the only type of massage for you. If this were the case with music, I’d still be listening exclusively to New Kids On The Block (Anyone else think Jonathan Knight was underrated?)
Our music tastes change with our immediate circumstances. My background work music consists of mopey 90s grunge while my run mix includes songs I’d NEVER admit to having purchased on iTunes. Same for massage styles. Sometimes you need a relaxing, nurturing hot stone massage. Sometimes your chiropractor sends you to a massage therapist for focused work to rehabilitate a shoulder injury. Sometimes I want a therapist to let me wallow and cry when life is stressful, sometimes I need a therapist to encourage and motivate me to keep up with my workouts.I hope this makes sense. While all of the massage therapists at East Village Spa can offer a relaxation massage, or can focus on your back/neck/shoulders (This is what 90% of our guests request, I promise we’re all skilled at this!) we might go about it differently. Think of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Love it or hate it, when Ryan Adams covered the album in his own style, her songs gained a new fan base who otherwise would not have listened. Same songs, totally different approach.
I hope this encourages you to branch out. I seek diversity and skill in my massage therapy team. I love all of my providers, but for different reasons. If you aren’t thrilled with one style, it’s fine to “change the station” and try something new, but do remember that just because a style is best for you, or your friend, it isn’t perfect for everyone and that’s ok!
Ready to try a new style of massage, or a new therapist? Click here to learn about our licensed service providers and click here to book!
Brandi Munch, a licensed massage therapist and certified yoga instructor, offers Reiki (pronounced Ray-kee) energy work for relaxation at East Village Spa. Brandi answered a few frequently asked questions about Reiki. Brandi was attuned to Reiki in June 2016 by Reiki Master Erika Nielsen.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is an ancient form of energy work that clears your energy and removes blocks to bring you greater health and wellness. Think of acupuncture without the needles. Reiki gently encourages you to heal from within.
What does Reiki feel like? Are there any risks or side effects?
Reiki does no harm and the only side effect is relaxation. It can be given during traditional, hands-on bodywork or be given hands-off. Reiki feels different for everyone, but a lot of the feedback I have received is that my hands feel warm. Others say they can feel energy radiating through them in various ways. Some don’t feel anything at all except relaxation. There is no right or wrong way to feel.
Is Reiki a massage? Can you include Reiki in a traditional massage?
Reiki can be incorporated into massage but I find it is strongest during a specific Reiki session. In a Reiki-only session, the practitioner is “hand’s-off” and the client would be resting on the table in comfortable clothing or undressed to your comfort under the sheet and blanket.
Who benefits from Reiki? Do you feel Reiki or massage therapy are more beneficial?
Reiki is for everyone (and so is massage!) I would recommend a Reiki session for those with high-stress levels, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, those who feel stagnant, who are looking to clear their vibrational frequency, or clear their emotions. Reiki AND massage are both important self-care tools.
How do I book a Reiki session with Brandi?
You can call (515) 309-2904 to schedule a 30 or 50 minute standalone Reiki session or book online. If you’d like to incorporate Reiki into a massage therapy treatment, we suggest booking an 80 minute massage and requesting Brandi. Please let us know in advance you prefer to integrate Reiki into your massage session we suggest booking a 30 minute Reiki session and a 60 minute massage session back-to-back, requesting Brandi for each.
Massage Therapists have come under attack from all sides in Iowa in the last year. Early in the year, lawmakers proposed a bill to eliminate massage therapy licensing, which never made it to a vote. Criminals are increasingly and illegally using the phrase “massage therapy” as a front for illicit activities including human trafficking. Local lawmakers are targeting legitimate and licensed massage therapists including long-time small business owners with restrictions and additional fees instead of enforcing existing laws to go after the actual criminals.
At East Village Spa, our experienced licensed massage therapy team provides nearly 7,000 massage treatments per year. Some of our team members have over 10 years of experience, some have transitioned to massage from other health fields like nursing; some from other science fields like engineering. As a whole, massage therapists are skilled, trained, caring health care providers. To help consumers to know what to look for when seeking a massage therapist, we’d like to offer the following suggestions.
Check the Iowa Department of Public Health licensing website to make sure your massage therapist is properly licensed and has not had disciplinary action taken against them. Ensure you have the proper spelling and legal name when searching. To obtain a license in Iowa, a massage therapist must have a MINIMUM of 600 hours of approved education, passed their national boards, adhere to the laws, and maintain continuing education requirements. Many therapists far exceed this minimum standard. It is illegal to practice massage therapy or call yourself a massage therapist without a license.
It is a legal requirement that therapists display their license in their office or treatment space. If you don’t see a license posted, it is safe to assume they are not licensed and you should leave, or check online to verify that they are approved to practice.
Value professionalism. Licensed massage therapists should ask their clients to complete a written health history or intake form and update their health information regularly. Massage may need modified for certain health concerns. Your therapist should also keep treatment notes to monitor client progress and record session data.
Look for red flags. Therapists must provide safe, clean work surroundings including clean linens and sanitized head rests and massage tools, proper hand washing and common infection control measures. Does the business provide a comprehensive website or written menu of services with rates clearly defined? Are their marketing materials and advertisements clear and professional? Are clinic hours reasonable for a health provider? If your gut tells you something is “off” then it probably is.
A licensed massage therapist will ensure your modesty and comfort at all times. If your therapist does not step out of the room to allow you to disrobe and lay under covers, or if they work with immodest or no draping, this is a concern and a breach of their professional ethics. If your massage therapist needs to address sensitive areas like the gluteal, abdominal, or pectoralis muscles, they should discuss this with you prior to work in those areas and obtain your consent. You should still remain modestly draped during massage in these areas. If you feel uncomfortable at any time in a session, ask to end the session.
Phrasing matters. Licensed massage therapists use professional terminology when referring to their treatments. A massage therapist will never refer to him or herself as “masseur or masseuse,” terms that have been co-opted by people providing illicit services under the guise of massage. Also, licensed massage therapists work out of practices, offices, clinics, spas, salons, hospitals, in-home, etc… but they do not refer to their work place as a “parlor” which is another phrase commonly used to insinuate illicit activities take place.
Like you would when seeing a new doctor or counselor, seek out referrals for a massage therapist. Read reviews online, read therapist bios, look into education and specialties to find the best massage therapist for your needs and preferences.
Licensed massage therapists play a vital role now that traditional healthcare expenses are ballooning, where people are realizing the importance of alternatives to opioid pain medications, and seeking to manage stress for their overall health. It is my hope that lawmakers and people in authority will use the existing state laws to go after the human traffickers and people who are hiding under our professional title without punishing ethical, legal, LICENSED massage therapists and making it more difficult for consumers to take advantage of a safe, healthy, massage.
Learn about our licensed massage therapy team here, or schedule your therapeutic massage session by clicking here!
This post was written by Cassie Sampson, BA, LMT. Cassie has been an Iowa Licensed Massage Therapist since 2005, has served as massage therapy educator, and is proud to employ an incredible team of licensed massage therapists who make a difference in the lives of their clients every day.
Just tuning into my European spa adventure? Click here to start from the beginning!
Our European Spa Tour started in Switzerland and progressed to Austria where we learned about the 3 week “kur” (pronounced “cure”) and got to experience a spa relaxation style massage at one of the sauna and thermal bath complexes in the most beautiful town surrounded by the Alps, Bad Hofgastein. Like our tour of the Reha Clinic in Switzerland, the rehabilitation clinic at Alpentherme in Bad Hofgastein offered therapeutic medical massage alongside physical therapy, exercises, prescribed “fresh air” walks, sauna and hydrotherapy.
At Alpentherme, we learned about the Kur, or a 3 week wellness program that most Austrians qualify for about every 5 years under their government health insurance, depending on what conditions they have and their occupation (i.e. physically demanding jobs or injuries). During the kur, residents spend 3 weeks at the clinic receiving prescribed therapies, eating healthy foods (ideally) doing exercises, saunas, and hydrotherapy programs. Our tour guide stated that her taxes were roughly 50% of her income, which is how they fund such comprehensive wellness programs. Research has shown that for some conditions that are quite expensive to manage, an annual Kur helps to cut costs of medications and more costly interventions so some disabilities qualify for more frequent visits.
She also stated that recently, the government guidelines for treatments are requiring a bit less “passive” therapy like massage and more active therapy like physical and exercise therapy so their treatment providers must coordinate with each other to ensure they meet qualifications for reimbursement. Medical massage therapists seemed able to provide similar services to those at the clinic in Switzerland.
Anyone up for a radioactive dip?
One of my most memorable moments on the tour was when our guide explained that one particular soaking pool for pain and inflammation was available by physician prescription only and with close monitoring. At first we were positive we were missing something in translation. “This one is full of ‘rah-dohn'”
“What? Surely you are mis-translating ‘MAG-NES-IUM’, or something else, right?”
“No, no, it is ‘rah-dohn….radon’ pool. See? Look at the brochure!” Our guide pointed to the description in the pamphlet and sure enough, we were looking at one of the radon therapy pools…and once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we had a few questions. “What about the therapists working in the pools?” (According to our guide it is too little radon to hurt the therapists but just enough to help patients) “Has anyone researched this?” (Oh yes! It is very good!) “Should we remove our radon mitigation systems and open health centers in our basements?” (No. Use is closely monitored by physicians.)
Like in Switzerland, the massage therapist qualified to provide the medical massages have several years of training. I’m unsure of the training required to provide massage therapy in the spa, but if I understood correctly, it sounded like it might be flexible, with some apprenticeship programs available. The spa at Alpentherme was very well-appointed, but there are some stark contrasts from what people expect from a spa massage in America. Amenities like warm herbal compresses and hot stones, hydrotherapy tubs with color changing lights, plus a table used for body scrubs and a warming table used for body wraps were among the options for therapists.
My massage therapist was very professional, but the service was quite different than what Americans expect from a spa service. The rooms were bright (as bright as in the above photos) and the tables were very firm like in a medical office with paper covers plus towels. The music was static from a local radio station, more like a background noise like in a doctor’s office in America than typical spa music designed to enhance the experience. When my massage started, it was so hard to keep from laughing as Despacito crackled through the speaker.
My husband and I had had the same therapist and he stayed in the room while we got on the table, but turned his back. He asked us both to keep our underwear on. Others in our group who received different types of massage like hot stone were given a disposable thong. I laughed because they said they were watched by the therapists as they changed, not in a sexually inappropriate way, but in a matter-of-fact clinical way.
The massage I received was very light and rhythmic. It felt like a full body lymphatic drainage technique, lots of repetitive circles over and over. I know that in the countries we visited, they feel that lymphatic massage is very important. It was not a massage to reduce muscle tension or deep tissue by a long shot, but I know I did briefly doze off. My husband reported his treatment was the same.
One interesting and unique feature of the spa we visited is that one of the spa directors takes much pride in creating herbal, aromatherapy, and crystal blends to enhance the services. While I’ve never personally subscribed to crystal healing, I can appreciate the love and care he imparts into his craft so much that I bought two blends to bring home. For months, crystals, essential oils, and herbs soak infuse a base oil. The spa even puts large crystals into their drinking water for guests. It was a nice touch and an interesting point-of-differentiation that I think fans of crystals and gemstones would enjoy.
I was thankful for such a comprehensive tour and behind-the-scenes from our gracious tour guide. I love that so many of the pool and sauna complexes have spas or massage clinics attached because there is nothing like relaxing your muscles with heat and hydrotherapy before a massage and continuing the relaxation with a stunning walk in the gorgeous village.
Stay tuned, my last two posts on the trip will be coming soon! My next post will be about my Traditional Thai spa experience in Munich, Germany and my last post will be a few highlights.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with other Midwestern Massage Therapists to Switzerland, Austria, and Germany and visit spas and massage clinics in each country, speaking to therapists, spa managers, and citizens about their experiences receiving massage therapy. I was excited to learn the truth about a belief commonly held by American massage therapists and their clients: “In Europe, everyone gets massage and it is covered by their health insurance.” On our tours and visits I received tons of great information, but with language barriers and info overload, I think I returned with more questions than I had when I arrived in Europe. My research continues!
For example, on our last night, I visited with a great German couple over dinner and asked if they had ever personally received massage therapy covered by their insurance. The husband stated that his physician prescribed 10 medical massages by a physiotherapist (I’m not sure if this is a physical therapist or medical massage therapist based on what he described) to recover from knee surgery. He has private insurance in addition to the government insurance, so his treatments were covered, but not all massage therapy and not all massage therapists are covered by health care.
I asked our new friend if he understood different licensing and training between the therapists who provide insurance-covered massages and relaxing massages. He stated “Spa therapists are like on Baywatch” (Record scratching…”WHAT?”) His wife went on to explain “Yes, like, lifeguards. It is the same kind of training. In the spas the massage therapists are also the lifeguards.” (Pro tip: DO NOT Google “German Lifeguard Massage”) Honestly, I think that our new German friends just wanted to perpetuate a stereotype and found any reason to casually steer the conversation to David Hasselhoff.
It took awhile to Google the correct phrases, but I eventually realized that, at least in Germany, a 2+ year training program is required to become an accredited massage therapist and “medical pool attendant,” which makes sense because the medical massage therapists we met could do really great therapies in the many warm water pools and could prescribe hydrotherapy. If they continue a year to a year and a half in their training, it appears they would be working toward their physiotherapist qualifications. It seemed like that was similar to the case in other countries we visited. The medical massage therapists typically had a higher level of training than in the U.S. but physical therapists seemed to have a slightly lower amount of training than in the U.S. so the occupations didn’t have quite such a qualification gap.
In this blog series you’ll learn about my spa, massage clinic, and pool/sauna complex visits and experiences our group of midwestern licensed massage therapists enjoyed on our European spa tour!