I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com
To put it bluntly, it’s not clear that massage has any musculoskeletal benefits at all. It probably does, but mostly quite temporary and highly unpredictable. There’s not nearly enough science, and therapists are hopelessly biased assessing their own efficacy. See Does Massage Therapy Work? A review of the science of massage therapy … such as it is. BACK TO TEXT
The most widely recognized and commonly used category of massage is the Swedish massage. The Swedish massage techniques vary from light to vigorous. Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks. The development of Swedish massage is often inaccurately credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johann Georg Mezger applied the French terms to name the basic strokes. The term "Swedish" massage is actually only recognized in English and Dutch speaking countries, and in Hungary. Elsewhere the style is referred to as "classic massage".
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Virtually no luxury is spared for this spa’s Enhanced Romantic Couples Getaway package ($555). Start by sweating it out in the solid jade igloo-style sauna or herbal steam room before taking a champagne-and-fresh-fruit-fueled bubble bath in the Celebrity Room tub. You'll then be led into one of the wet treatment rooms for invigorating full-body scrubs and back to the massage tables for blissful, hour-long Korean rubdowns, combining pressure and stretching applied through a sheet with essential-oil-lubricated long, soothing strokes directly on the skin.
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Want more treatment choices for you and your partner-in-crime? Check out Faina, where there are 15 options for the two of you to choose from. We suggest the Decadent Duet ($279), which includes a European manicure for her, a European pedicure and foot scrub for him and a 50-minute joint aromatherapy massage, complete with bubbly and decadent chocolate. But if you’re looking for the ultimate pampering sesh, the Champagne Extravaganza for Two ($229) includes a steam shower, a boozy body scrub and an aromatherapy body massage (30mins) followed by champagne and chocolate.
Prepare for a romantic escape with this spa’s ultimate couples package ($375): Begin with a relaxing dip in the Jacuzzi followed by a 55-minute body massage. Afterward, nibble on complimentary strawberries, chocolate fondue and champagne. But if you’re really feeling indulgent, register for additional services, like the hourlong De Islands' Brown Sugar Scrub ($135) that exfoliates skin all over for exceptional softness.
The price of a couples massage depends on the spa, the amount of time, and the amenities. Generally, it is the cost of a regular massage, times two. Sometimes you can add on private time. For instance, Aspira the Spa at The Osthoff Resort in Wisconsin offers couples massage at $135 per person for 50-minutes. Couples can enjoy an additional hour of time alone together in the spacious suite, equipped with a master shower, whirlpool bath, stone fireplace, and sofa, for $50 per person. At some spas, the package might include private time and amenities like Champagne, which sends the price higher.
A 2004 systematic review found single applications of massage therapy "reduced state anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate but not negative mood, immediate assessment of pain, and cortisol level", while "multiple applications reduced delayed assessment of pain", and found improvements in anxiety and depression similar to effects of psychotherapy. A subsequent systematic review published in 2008 found that there is little evidence supporting the use of massage therapy for depression in high quality studies from randomized controlled trials.