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Glossary of Spa Terms

Spa Terms Explained

The following information is a simple guide to some of the lesser-known terms, which may be mentioned in this on-line magazine and within the venue’s specific pages. If you cannot find what you are looking for, then please call us on 01883 724 843 and we will be happy to help!

A specific technique used in massage, which releases muscular tension by applying pressure to the acupuncture points, releasing blockages and allowing the energy to flow freely. Is very effective to relieve tension and stress.

AHA Fruit Acids
Natural acids (alphahydroxy-acids) which are mainly present in fruit, sometimes used in beauty treatments for natural skin peeling to reveal fresh skin. (Similar to exfoliation but effected through natural fruit acids rather than exfoliation creams).

Alexander Technique
A method that develops and maintains the alignment of the head, neck and spine in order to reduce unnecessary strain on the body and release tension in the muscles. The Alexander Technique is a simple and practical method for both self-improvement and self-help. Can help with poise and posture, vitality and co-ordination, enabling movement to become freer and lighter.

Specific marine-based products derived from marine plants rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which supply the skin with valuable nutrients. Applications include bubble baths, crèmes and beauty packs.

Involves passive and active movements while floating in 35°C warm water. Sessions take place with a qualified therapist and promote well-being and a relaxed, balanced sensation.

Often in a group, water gymnastics with and without fitness equipment aimed at boosting the metabolism and burning fat. Has toning effect on muscles and connective tissue without creating any strain on joints or muscles. Highly effective as an aid to body toning.

Aromatherapy uses essential oils (natural oil concentrates, distilled from plants) to aid well being and is particularly effective when used to combat stress and anxiety as well as a wide range of other ailments. Oils are inhaled, massaged into the skin in diluted form or placed in baths where they can be inhaled and also absorbed.

An ancient system of healing, Ayurvedic therapies are beneficial to the maintenance of good health and prevention of disease and promotes sense of well being through holistic therapy. The resulting effect is physical strength, better health, mental clarity, inner peace and calmness.

Bio Sauna
Comfortably warm temperatures of 40-55°C provide a pleasant climate, which causes no stress for the body. Often combined with essential oils, or the use of colours to relax or stimulate, leaving you feeling calm and relaxed.

Body Wraps (or Body Envelopments)
Also known as body envelopments – this type of treatment usually involves the application of rich, nutrient substances or crèmes. Heat and humidity make the skin particularly absorptive to active substances and this is often enhanced by the wrapping of the body (sometimes with heated towels whist lying on heated massage bed). This can increase the heat of your body and thus increase absorption of the applied lotions, potions or creams and will depend on what type of product is being used. This treatment can also sometimes include a relaxing scalp massage whilst the wrap does its good work!

Essential oils added to a steam bath at an approximate heat of 45°C steam bath - great for opening up the sinuses and to aid breathing. Also suitable for loosening stressed muscles.

Clay / Kaolin
Can be used as body wrap packs or face masks - Natural compounds rich in aluminium which retain warmth well and stimulate blood circulation, allowing active ingredients applied beneath to penetrate the skin more effectively and leaving skin re-energized and feeling fresh and stimulated.

Colour Therapy
Colours of the spectrum are used to balance, harmonise and balance the mind and body. Also known as Light Therapy and sometimes used in conjunction with Audio Therapy which allows you to have a visual and aural experience – total chill out!

Complementary Therapies
The objective of the Complementary Therapy is a collective term used to describe any treatments or practices which specifically create a feeling of well-being through rebalancing the body, alleviating the effects of stress, increasing energy levels and reducing aches and pains. Many conditions respond particularly well to complementary medicine and the benefits you derive can continue long after the treatment. Certain treatments are ideal to have on your day of arrival as a relaxing start to your stay.

Connective Tissue Massage
Deep intensive massage aimed at relaxing tense muscles. Manipulation of the reflexology zones harmonizes the functions of the inner organs. Very suitable if you are highly active and take regular exercise as a relaxing massage, which corrects minor muscle aches!

Cranial-Sacral Therapy
Manual therapy involving gentle but consistent massage and manipulation of the scalp, spinal column and sacrum to reduce physical and psychological tensions.

Deep Muscle Relaxation
Excellent relaxation technique which is simple to learn and very effective in achieving a subsequent relaxation as the result of tensing muscles and then relaxing the tension and repeating. Deliberate and consistent deep muscle relaxation can help to lower physical and emotional anxiety and you can learn and then continue to practice at home!

Means literally charging of the body and soul with energy. Selected substances, e.g. pure oxygen or certain flavours are used as stimulants to increase performance. Also a term used for the effect of certain treatments – particularly the stimulating treatments as opposed to the relaxing ones.

Concentrated, distilled oils that are administered usually externally through aromatherapy etc., and mostly only after dilution.

Flower Baths
Selected flower petals are strewn over pleasantly warm water for a stimulating or relaxing effect. Used alone or as part of a complete therapy (e.g. Lulur). You may have seen pictures of the Japanese Bathing Ceremony – flower baths are part of this experience!

Feng Shui
Usually used as description of room layouts but is relevant to any environment in which you are in, including treatment rooms. Ancient knowledge has been taken and used to balance the elements and achieve an undisturbed flow of energy to promote well-being.

Hot Stone Massage
Specially selected heated stones are used to massage the body, providing a nurturing and enhanced therapeutic effect. The application of heat not only increases the feeling of well-being but also enables the therapist to work more deeply and more effectively with chronic pain conditions. The smooth basalt stones have a high iron content, enabling them to retain heat. The stones are applied at varying degrees of heat, wet, onto an oiled body and the effect is similar to a combination of sauna and massage, without having to breathe in steam. The practitioner will massage with some stones and lay others on the body at particular points - including in between the toes! All the rage at the moment and described as “complete bliss”!

Hydro Oasis
Massage bath with coloured light effects which are controlled by music. The sensation of warmth and lightness is aided by the use of integrated body packs. (See Colour Therapy – is similar)

Hydro-Jet Massage
The body is massaged by waves and jets of water in a large pool or tub – invigorating and good for stimulating sluggish circulation. Can be particularly beneficial when used before a body wrap or massage and can be a very pleasant sensation too!

Indian Head Massage
Indian Head massage will soothe away stress and tension, leaving you refreshed, relaxed and with a renewed clarity of mind. This is a very popular treatment – perfect for a chilled out, calm and relaxed result!

Indonesian Massage
A massage technique using long hand-strokes together with special aromatic oils for relaxing the muscles. The skin is rolled between the thumbs and fingertips to increase blood flow and sensitise the nerve endings although this is not at all painful – more gentle and pleasant sensations. Pressure points on the hands and feet receive particular attention to increase energy levels.

Self-help therapy technique for improving general well-being. Includes kinematics, nutrition and mental training. Using massage and contact points, Kinesiology helps with emotion/anxiety, specific personal dietary intake and energy blocks. This method balances the whole person, which enhances health and well-being and is described as truly preventive in order to maintain good mental and physical health.

LaStone® Therapy (see also Hot Stone Therapy above)
Clinically it is the application during massage therapy of heated stones with alternating chilled stones for a deep penetrating effect on the human being's physiological systems. Using different temperatures, whether heated or chilled, on the body to bring about certain healing responses has been done for countless eons. LaStone® Therapy uses alternating temperatures in conjunction with Mother Earth and the Stone People to bring about healing, balance and rejuvenation.

Lomi Lomi Massage
A rhythmical massage technique which was developed in Hawaii using thumbs, palms and elbows to loosen tissues and reduce tension in order to relax and rejuvenate the body.

Lymph Drainage Massage
This specific massage technique is designed to drain away these concentrations of water and toxins beneath the skin. Water can accumulate in tissue in all parts of the body, but particularly in the legs and this technique discourages water retention. It is usually advisable to avoid any exertion for a little while after this treatment.

Magnet Therapy
The use of electromagnetic fields to treat a variety of conditions, including circulatory problems, certain forms of arthritis, chronic pain, sleep disorders and stress.

Concentration to achieve “higher consciousness” and reflection. Hugely helpful in stress management and overcoming psychological crises. When practiced regularly it is described as a very helpful tool to assist in improving your life and relationships.

A cream containing nutrient concentrates is massaged into the skin and a plaster mask is thickly spread over the body part to be treated. As the plaster dries, the skin temperature under the plaster increases. The pores open and can then better absorb the effective substances in the cream.

These treatments are effective in improving circulation and skin tone. Thermal mudpacks or baths from fine-grained, natural sediments from the sea or sedimentary deposits provide soothing warmth. With their rich nutrient and mineral content they supply the skin with valuable substances. Treatments usually last around an hour.

Natural Oils
Naturally occurring oils derived from plants and seeds. Either used in their pure form or together with aromatic additives for skin care or massage.

Oceanic Aqua Balancing
Meditative form of water massage treating mental and physical stresses. Relaxing sessions to leave you feeling calm and rested. Can be used in conjunction with marine salts.

Creamy lotions that do not dry out on the skin but moisturise it and provide it with special active ingredients. They act as catalysts for blood circulation and promote absorption of the ingredients.

An exercise system with and without apparatus based on eight basic principles. The aim is to improve flexibility and strength and to create a balance in the body. It includes comprehensive regulation of the physical functions and leads to physical and mental relaxation. Particularly effective for back and posture problems.

Power Yoga
A combination of traditional yoga with dynamic exercises. Places demands on all of the muscles, boosting circulation and improving muscle tone.

Pressure-Point Massage
Selected acupuncture points are manipulated by the therapist using fingertips rather than needles thus releasing energy blockages and regulating physical functions.

Rasul Mud Therapy
Rasul is an ancient Arabic cleansing bathing ritual that uses mineral-rich mud, heat and steam. This is the ultimate cleansing ritual to exfoliate and cleanse the skin. The treatment starts by applying mineral rich muds to different parts of your body. You then relax in the aroma infused steam, letting the magical muds detoxify the body and leaving the skin feeling beautifully soft. A perfect treatment to share with a friend or partner or alone for perfect relaxation.

Japanese treatment in which the practitioner places his or her hands on the client's body to channel energy into the body. Blockages are released and energy stimulated. Very effective again for stress related problems. Leaves you feeling calm, relaxed and more in control! Reiki means universal life energy. During this healing treatment, the therapist will utilise various holding positions on the body. This will clear energy blockages and induce a deep state of relaxation and well-being. (Loose clothing sometimes worn during the treatment).

A healing process using a specialised massage technique, concentrating on reflex areas in the feet which reflect particular organs of the body. Reflexology is a relaxing method of stimulating the body's self-healing properties. Can also fix “minor” problems and your therapist will often be able to identify physical problems you might have, just by manipulating the related area of your feet!

Saltwater Bath
Bathing in natural salt springs. Revitalizes the metabolism and aids detoxification of the body.

Sanarium or Saunarium
Somewhere between a sauna and a steam room!
Usually used to describe low temperature sauna (40-50°C), in which essential oils, e.g. eucalyptus, are used to bring calmness and relaxation to the air passages.

Skin peeling (otherwise known as skin exfoliation) using fine-grained substances such as salts, ground fruit seeds, fine sand and others, which are often combined with a cream to ensure that you are comfortable whilst this is used on your skin. Highly effective in sloughing off the old skin cells to reveal newer, softer and younger looking skin.

Seaweed Extracts
Marine plants rich in vitamins and minerals. In the form of bath additives, crèmes and packs, these provide the skin with valuable nutrients and are usually used in conjunction with either body wraps or marine bath therapies. Stimulating and great for boosting your circulation.

Application of self-tanning products applied to face and body usually following a full body exfoliation to slough off old skin to reveal the newer, fresher skin beneath – this ensures that the tanned effect lasts longer and is not patchy!

A Japanese form of acupressure (see Acupressure for full description). Gentle finger pressure rather than needles is used. This Oriental therapy combining finger pressure on acupuncture points with gentle mobilisation of joints. The treatment works on the principle of enhancing the flow of vital energy through the meridians of the body. It has proved to be an interesting approach to numerous health problems. (Loose clothing is worn during the treatment session.)

Derived from “Sanus Per Aquam” (health through water!). Used to describe the facilities offered at venues with not just swimming pool, but usually sauna, steam, whirlpool etc.

Spa Day
A full or half day which would normally include lunch & full use of facilities such as sauna, jacuzzi, steam room, pool etc. Packages are chosen depending on how many treatments & how much pampering you want. Most venues on Spabreak offer these packages, described in detail under “Day Spa”

Steam Bath
In a closed room, hot steam is released periodically through vents to moisturise the skin and air passages. The extremely high humidity results in a temperature of only 60 °C being perceived as very hot. Good as a toxin-eliminator and particularly effective if you alternate with either a plunge pool or swimming pool to raise and then lower and then raise again the body temperature. Not suitable during pregnancy though!

Stone Therapy (see Hot Stone Therapy)
Precious stone therapy which can change body's energy flow through their properties and colour. Full details under Hot Stone Therapy. Also known as LA Stone Therapy.

Swedish Massage
Similar to the connective tissue massage, combining long stroking movements with circular ones. Complemented by kneading to loosen the deep muscle structure.

Thai Massage
Classic Thai massage uses no oil. Stretching movements are predominant and the client remains dressed. Elements of Chinese reflexology and Ayurveda are used in the meditation part of the treatment.

Thalasso Therapy
Comprehensive concept which utilises the enormous healing power of the sea with marine-based products. Algae, sediments, sand and saltwater are just some of the basic ingredients used for medicinal and cosmetic preparations.

Underwater Massage
A powerful water jet directed at damaged or tense muscle groups to achieve a massage or relaxing effect.

Deep cleansing of the skin by steaming. A fine jet sprays the face with steam to intensify deep cleaning, soften hard skin layers and open the pores.

Warm Mist Grotto
Cocooned in a warm, fine mist which can be enriched with essential substances, a refreshing and invigorating effect is achieved on the skin and in the airways. An increased feel-good factor is achieved by stimulating the basic metabolism.

Water Walking
Low impact walking exercises combined with upper body muscle conditioning. The buoyancy of water supports body weight and decreases stress on spine and joints.

The most commonly practiced yoga technique in Europe is Hatha yoga, which unites body, mind and soul using prescribed movements, controlled breathing and mental training. Provides long-term increase of physical flexibility and resilience. Also leaves you feeling calm and is very effective in relieving stress.

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