Spa for Health

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Photo courtesy of Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa, Co Durham

Aside from the social and relaxation aspects of spa that aid emotional wellbeing, spa treatments can also have real physical and mental health benefits. Massage therapy is referenced right back to ancient records of the Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman nations. It has been suggested that massage may have local effects on muscles and soft tissues and may reduce inflammation, stimulate oxygenation of tissues, soften or stretch scar tissue, break up adhesions, reduce build-up of lactic acid in muscles, induce muscle fibre relaxation, and stimulate healing of connective tissues or damaged muscles.

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Several human trials have assessed the effects of massage in patients with anxiety, including those with cancer or chronic illnesses. While additional research is necessary in order to form a scientifically based recommendation, massage has been used to treat nausea, anxiety, and depression in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. 

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Photo courtesy of Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa, Co Durham

Studies have also shown that hot whirl pools and hydrotherapy, can improve the duration and severity of lower back pain in combination with standard therapy and multiple published studies based on therapy given at Dead Sea Spa sites in Israel report benefits in pain, range of motion, or muscle strength for the treatment of symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

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Photo courtesy of Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa, Co Durham

References:

1. Buskila D, Abu-Shakra M, Neumann L, et al. Balneotherapy for fibromyalgia at the Dead Sea. Rheumatol Int 2001;20(3):105-108.
2. Constant F, Collin JF, Guillemin F, et al. Effectiveness of spa therapy in chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. J Rheumatol 1995;22(7):1315-1320.
3. Constant F, Guillemin F, Collin JF, et al. Use of spa therapy to improve the quality of life of chronic low back pain patients. Med Care 1998;36(9):1309-1314.
4. Franke A, Reiner L, Pratzel HG, et al. Long-term efficacy of radon spa therapy in rheumatoid arthritis--a randomized, sham-controlled study and follow-up. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2000;39(8):894-902.
5. Wilkinson SM, Love SB, Westcombe AM, et al. Effectiveness of aromatherapy massage in the management of anxiety and depression in patients with cancer: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 2007 Feb 10;25(5):532-9.
6. Aourell M, Skoog M, Carleson J. Effects of Swedish massage on blood pressure. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2005 Nov;11(4):242-6.
7. Billhult A, Bergbom I, Stener-Victorin E. Massage relieves nausea in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med 2007 Jan-Feb;13(1):53-7.
8. Bost N, Wallis M. The effectiveness of a 15 minute weekly massage in reducing physical and psychological stress in nurses. Aust J Adv Nurs 2006 Jun-Aug;23(4):28-33.

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National Spa Week is a registered trademark of the The UK Spa Association, 2 Beverley Court, 26 Elmtree Road, Teddington, TW11 8ST
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