To offer up a the perfect suggestion for National Relaxation Day (yes, that’s a thing, and yes, it’s happening on a Monday), I took one for the team and volunteered to conduct some research about massage, and why they’re imperative to good health. Of course, not just any spa would do, because if you’re going to get a massage to celebrate a national holiday and do some hard-hitting investigating, it better be the best spa around. So, I decided to head to The Red Door, the iconic spa by Elizabeth Arden.
What made The Red Door the top choice? For one, it’s got history on its side. Elizabeth Arden opened The Red Door’s first location in 1910, and has since followed with more than 30 locations nationwide. Something good has got to be going on there if it’s lasted for more than 100 years.
I decided to go with the signature massage, which is the happy medium between a cringe-inducing deep tissue, and sleep-inducing Swedish massage. As for my technician, I went with Colleen, a leader of bodywork at the spa who has been a massage therapist for more than 15 years.
On the day of my appointment, I took an elevator up to The Red Door’s Michigan Ave location, and was welcomed with, quite literally, a red door. I checked in and was directed to the locker room where a robe and sandals were waiting for me. After changing, I went to the relaxation area, helped myself to some cucumber water, and filled out a quick questionnaire about the many reasons I was there (head-to-toe muscle tightness, brought on by carrying around and 18 lb baby boy and sitting at a laptop the rest of the day).
A minute later, I was greeted by Colleen. We went over my Q&A and told me we could tailor my massage to focus on my problem areas. Score. There’s nothing worse that going into a massage with aches pains and then leaving with them an hour later.
I don’t mind chatting while I relax, so I decided to ask her a few of my burning questions about massages.
Here’s what I learned.
The type of massage matters. I always go for the Swedish Massage because it feels amazing and I figure it helps loosen up my muscles. But, after talking with Colleen, I realized that as someone with the back of a 75 year old, I might be better off with a deep tissue. The major difference between the various types of massage is pressure, and a Swedish massage is designed primarily for relaxation, not necessarily to combat underlying knots and muscle issues. Deep tissue massages are given with the most pressure (which is why they’re often more expensive, because it’s more work for the therapist), and the primary goal isn’t relaxation, but breaking up knots and receiving long-term pain.
You really do need to drink water after. I always kind of half-listen to the advice to drink water when you leave the spa, thinking it’s one of those things like taking Vitamin C to prevent a cold. It might be accepted advice, but does it really do anything? Apparently, it does. Massage not only releases the lactic acid from your cramped-up muscles into your blood stream, it allows blood to flow into tight spots it hasn’t been able to effectively reach which releases additional toxins. Water is one of the most effective ways to flush that extra junk out of your body.
Problems don’t always originate where you think they do. Massage therapists can tell you things about your body you never would have figured out on your own. For example, I spend hours a week rubbing (or having my husband rub) a spot on my upper left back in an effort to loosen it up. Little did I know the actual issue was a tight spot under my shoulder, which was causing the entire area to cramp up. Once Colleen showed my the source of the pain, I’ve been able to treat the actual problem on my own, instead of just the symptom.
As for the massage: It was relaxing AND effective. I felt looser and more pampered than I had in months.
There you have a whole bunch of reasons to book yourself a spa day. You’re welcome.