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What is cupping, anyway?

Our owner and lead therapist, Michelle Christen, recently received her dry cupping therapy certification. The Spa’ah in Conway, Arkansas is proud to announce the new therapy offering as it is an exciting procedure that dates back to ancient times

Cupping therapy is an ancient technique that can be found in one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world. The Ebers Papyrus details how the ancient Egyptians used this therapy as early as 1550 B.C. This procedure is particularly exciting and unique, because it involves the use of a controlled flame to remove the oxygen from inside of a cup. The cup is then quickly applied to the skin in a troublesome area for the patient. A vacuum will then suck the skin up slightly under the cup. This causes the skin to redden as the blood vessels in the patients skin and muscles expand thus allowing greater blood flow.

You can watch a video of Eastern Medicine Guy, Tim Sullivan performing cupping on an individual with an old sports injury to get a better idea of what this actually looks like.

Who can benefit most from cupping therapy?

Many people can benefit from this therapy. Just like paper, concrete, and breath mints, this ancient relic is still around and thriving for a reason.

Cupping therapy has been used for a huge list of ailments including:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Allergies and Asthma
  • Chronic Stress
  • Inflammation
  • Body Toxins
  • Troublesome Skin
  • Cellulite
  • GI Issues
  • Migraines

In fact, this therapy is often used by Olympic athletes to treat injuries. During the Olympics in Rio, rumors that athletes like Michael Phelps had contracted Zika began circulating largely due to the “mysterious” circular purple bruises on their bodies. However, those bruises were not a result of disease. Cupping therapy was to blame!

Is there anything else I need to consider before trying this therapy?

Although cupping therapy is not painful, it does leave large circular bruises where the cups were placed for 3 to 4 days. So, it is a good idea to think about events you might have to attend. For example, if your wedding is tomorrow, we would not suggest a cupping session unless you are okay with cupping bruises in your photos. Although, it would be a great way to relax before the honeymoon!

Contact us at The Spa’ah in Conway, Arkansas to find out more or schedule your cupping therapy session today!

May you have peace, happiness, and wellness!

What is Gua Sha?

This therapy is a method used to remove stagnant blood and lymph from the subcutaneous fascia. It uses rounded smooth edged tool to repeatedly stroke over an area of the body, allowing the body to metabolize cellular waste and promote fresh blood and cells in that area. In other words, gua sha is an effective way to promote blood flow to areas that were previously getting less than the necessary amount of healing blood and oxygen. This treatment is very effective at relieving pain.

What does our interviewee have to say about her Gua Sha experience?

Why did your therapist suggest an additional treatment for you ailments? Was the therapy in addition to another treatment?

Michelle suggested Gua Sha because I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders, neck, and upper back. She had been working on those muscles for 45 minutes, before the Gua Sha, with deep tissue massage. She knew that the Gua Sha would help relieve those muscles even more and start to draw the toxins out of my body.

What was your impression of Gua Sha before receiving treatment, and how did your view of the therapy change once it was complete? 

I was hesitant at first. I had never heard of it before and I really wasn’t sure if it would make any difference in the tight muscles and pain I was having. Immediately after she finished with Gua Sha, I knew it had made a difference. I felt instant relief.

Did Gua Sha help with your pain, inflammation, or other chronic ailments? 

Yes, it made a huge difference on the stress and pain that I was carrying in my neck, shoulders, and upper back. The pain and inflammation were instantly gone. It took several days before I began to feel any discomfort return after the treatment, which is very unusual for me. After a normal massage, I tighten back up within a day or two.

Would you return to The Spa’ah specifically for our Gua Sha services? 

Yes! I scheduled a second appointment before I left The Spa’ah that evening.

Would you recommend this therapy to a friend of family member? Please explain why. 

Absolutely. I have been raving about Gua Sha since Michelle used it on me. I suffer with chronic upper back pain and stress carrying, and I know many other people do, as well. This treatment is something that everyone should have to help with those symptoms. The instant relief was incredible and I could not be more thankful for how it continued to work for several days after treatment. I am very thankful that Michelle recommended this treatment to me!

You can find out more about our different services including gua sha, here!

May you have peace, happiness, and wellness!

What is hot stone massage therapy?

This therapy has a long history and has been practiced by ancient civilizations all across the world. According to a Massage Magazine article, “Both verbal and written history confirm the Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago as a means of improving the function of internal organs.” Hot stone massage was even used as a means of healing in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt, and India.

Hot stone massage is a massage therapy technique that involves positioning warm stones along key areas of the patient’s body. Flat and oblong river rocks are often used in hot stone massage therapy. Due to their high iron content, the river rocks maintain adequate temperatures throughout the duration of the session. The hot stones can either be used as stationary pockets of heat to target trouble areas or as deep-tissue massage aides. Stones are used in a variety of other therapies as well including facials, pedicures, manicures, meridian therapy, and more.

There’s no need to worry about the “hotness” of the stones during hot stone massage therapy, however. There is always a barrier between a client’s skin, and the stones unless the therapist is moving the stone. There is no need to worry about safety or discomfort during hot stone therapy if it is performed by a trained professional.

What benefits does hot stone massage provide?

Stress / Anxiety Reduction

A survey that was conducted on May 18th in 2017 found that 77% of adults regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Hot stone therapy can help reduce stress by lowering your heart rate and increasing your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.

Aides Sleep

According to an Examined Existence article, “Stress is one of the main factors causing insomnia and other sleep disorders. When stressors are present, the body naturally heightens its response system, thus, leading to wakefulness.” Hot stone massage helps the body sleep by decreasing the body’s cortisol (stress hormone). High levels of cortisol impede the production of melatonin (sleep hormone).

Boosts Immunity

Hot stone massage can have a marked impact on the body’s immune system.  Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that, “people who received a 45-minute massage had an increased number of lymphocytes.” Lymphocytes are white blood cells. These white blood cells play a large role in defending the body from disease.

Relieves Muscle Tension / Pain

Generally, muscle tension or pain is the main complaint of massage therapy clients. Hot stone massage is especially suited to relieving these ailments. The heat of the stones stimulates that body’s circulatory system which allows stiff muscles to receive rejuvenating and oxygenated blood. The heat from the stones can also treat painful muscle spasms and particularly troublesome knots.

What else should I know about hot stone massage therapy?

While hot stone massage therapy is wonderfully beneficial for most people, be sure to check with you massage therapist before scheduling an appointment if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Nerve Damage
  • Sun Burn

These conditions do not preclude anyone from receiving a hot stone massage. However, we recommend that you disclose this information before your session.

If your trained massage therapist does not think you are a good candidate for hot stone massage, there are many other treatments and therapies at The Spa’ah in Conway, Arkansas that can alleviate almost any ailment. You can view our full list of services here.

May you have peace, happiness, and wellness!

What are Perpetuating Factors?

According to the Institute for Integrative Healthcare, perpetuating factors are “things that perpetuate myofascial pain due to muscle trigger points.” In other words, these factors are essential components of chronic conditions that often cause pain. Many individuals who have perpetuating factors of chronic pain often find temporary comfort in massage therapy. Because the reprieve from pain is only temporary for these sufferers of perpetuating factors, they often consider massage therapy to be a luxury service rather than a viable source of chronic pain relief. The reality is that a massage therapist as well as your medical doctor or chiropractor can help you identify any perpetuating factors that may be contributing to your chronic pain. Unless the true source of pain can be identified, you will have a hard time finding long term relief.

There are four different types of perpetuating factors:

  1. Mechanical Stress: Caused by body structural inadequacies like one shorter leg, postural stress like a ill fitting office desk / chair, dental malocclusion or misfitting teeth, and / or outside factors of muscle constriction like heavy purses or backpacks.
  2. Nutritional Inadequacies and Excess: Cause by a deficit or surplus of specific nutrients including Vitamins B1, B6, B12, and Folic Acid.
  3. Hormone Inadequacies and Diet: Caused by hormone fluctuations during menstrual cycles and inadequate levels of thyroid hormone. Allergies and hypoglycemia can also play a role in this kind of perpetuating factor.
  4. Acute or Chronic Infection: Caused by a viral or bacterial illness like the Flu as myofascial trigger points increase during systemic illnesses or active infections.

Most Americans can identify one or more of these types of chronic pain perpetrators as present in their lifestyle. Many of those Americans are also turning to massage therapy as a source of long term relief!

How can massage therapy help address Perpetuating Factors?

Massage therapy can provide temporary and long term relief to chronic pain. Temporary relief is provided by a therapist’s skill with various modalities of treatment. Long term relief can be found by an experienced therapist’s knowledge and practice.

An experienced massage therapist can help you identify lifestyle changes that can greatly impact your chronic pain. For this reason, it is a good idea to continue using the same spa for your massage therapy needs. This will allow the therapists there to all become familiar with you, your lifestyle, and your perpetuating factors. An experienced massage therapist can help chronic pain sufferers break their cycle of rehabilitation and relapse.

When you visit the same experienced therapist regularly, they will notice a specific pattern of problem areas. For example, your therapist might notice that you consistently have very tense shoulders. If he / she knows that your job involves sitting for long periods of time, your therapist might suggest a more ergonomic desk. Your massage therapists can suggest when a visit to your regular medical doctor might be warranted for a nutrition evaluation or treatment of an infection.

How can I identify Perpetuating Factors in my chronic pain?

Click here for a very helpful chart of potential perpetuating factors. Give this link a look before your next massage therapy appointment, and prepare yourself to discuss any potential chronic pain perpetrators with your therapist. Perpetuating factors are often the difference between temporary relief and long term recovery.

We offer diverse massage and spa treatments at a convenient location with great prices!

The Spa’ah is located on Amity Road in Conway, Arkansas just off of I-40. The establishment opened in December 2014 and is the brainchild of licensed massage therapist and owner Michelle Christen. Since its opening, the spa has enjoyed success and growth, including the addition of more massage therapists and services. The spa features couple’s massage rooms, individual massage rooms, whirlpool tubs, and a rain shower to enhance services and the customer experience. To remain up to date on current practices and safety standards, all massage therapists employed by the Spa’ah are licensed and maintain a membership with Associated Bodyworks and Massage Professionals which is the leading massage therapy association in the United States. Our highly qualified massage therapists provide a menu of diverse and convenient spa treatments and service at The Spa’ah in Conway.

The Spa’ah offers a wide range of spa treatments in a gender-neutral atmosphere which allows for both men and women to feel at ease while receiving their services.

The Spa’ah offers a variety of massage options.

Examples of Massage Options:

  • Swedish Massage (Effle’Ah): Available for individuals or couples, Swedish massage focuses on relaxation by releasing muscle tension and increasing circulation. It is the most common form of massage therapy.
    • Deep Tissue Massage (Kinetic’Ah): Deep Tissue massage uses firm to deep pressure and slower movements to release tight tissues, working down into the fascia, tendons, and deep muscles. It is particularly useful for removing knots in the muscles, chronic muscle pain, and injury rehabilitation.
    • Lomi Lomi Massage (Ah’Loha): A Hawaiian technique, this method uses rhythmic movements and an abundance of oil to break up fibrous deposits, improve circulation, and eliminate toxins.
    • Thai Massage (Thai’Ah): Thai massage uses pressure point compression, gentle rocking, and passive stretching to increase flexibility, reduce migraines and anxiety, and improve sleep. Thai massage can be done on a mat or table and remaining fully dressed in loose-fitting clothing is an option.
    • Prenatal Massage (Ma’Ah): Prenatal massage is done in a side-lying position with supporting pillows as needed. It can help improve circulation, decrease common maternal aches and pains, and reduce stress and fatigue. Massage has been shown to encourage shorter, easier labors and reduce hospital stays.
    • Hot Stone Massage (Stone’Ah): Basalt stones are heated and used along with oil to massage the body. The heat relaxes the muscles and allows for a deeper massage while maintaining a relaxed state.

“Can massage therapy and spa treatments really help me?”

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has a growing body of research showing that massage not only reduces stress and muscle tension, but can also help with medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, high blood pressure, and migraines. Of course, massage also can increase range of motion, encourage better sleep, help with anxiety, and ease joint pain. National Institute of Health (NIH) studies have shown Swedish massage, conducted just once a week, to be optimal for knee pain from osteoarthritis.

Other research shows that massage can be beneficial in patients who suffer from chronic lower back pain. In a survey done by the AMTA, 88% of consumers view massage therapy as “beneficial to health and wellness,” and 56% were recommended to massage therapy by a medical professional. Formerly regarded as a luxury service, massage is moving into the realm of health maintenance with 50% of people today get massages to help with medical issues or injuries, and 28% receive massage services to improve their mental health by reducing stress and aiding relaxation.

Clients also sometimes want a little something extra, or some special attention paid in one area. Clients can enhance their experience with add-on spa treatments.

Examples of Spa Treatments:

  • Facials: This treatment cleanses and exfoliates the face with a hot, moist towel treatment. It also includes the application of a mask, toner, and moisturizer.
  • Hand and/or Foot Paraffin: Paraffin treatments use warm, melted wax to provide pain relief to sore joints, while softening the skin. It also increases range of motion in the joints.
  • Reflexology: Reflexology is based on the principle that parts of the body are connected to specific locations on the hands and feet. Application of pressure in appropriate locations can contribute to the natural function of the related area in the body. Reflexology also helps relieve tension and improve circulation.
  • Gua Sha: Gua Sha is an Asian method used to remove stagnant blood and lymph from the fascia. Focusing on one area, this technique allows the body to metabolize cellular waste and promotes the addition of fresh blood and cells in the area.
  • Cupping: Used in traditional Chinese medicine and brought into the mainstream mind by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, cupping helps to treat pain, muscle knots, swelling, and deep scar tissues within the muscles.

“What’s in Conway, Arkansas anyway?”

Located in the heart of Conway, Arkansas, the Spa’ah offers a wide range of spa services that, if not right in your backyard, are in the heart of a wonderful getaway location. Conway offers big city amenities with a small-town feel. Make a date night (or lunch) of your time and visit local favorites such as Mulan’s (buffet-style Chinese/Japanese), Tacos 4 Life, or even Mike’s Place, if you’re feeling a bit fancier. Enjoy a night away from home at the Hilton Garden Inn Conway, located right across the street, or the Hampton Inn Conway. After your service, you can enjoy some shopping at the shopping center right around the corner. Regional chain favorites such as Target, Belk, Old Navy, and Dick’s Sporting Goods are located all in one convenient location.

Or, if you’re more inclined towards the outdoors, enjoy all of the beauty of Faulkner county by visiting Lake Beaverfork or Lake Conway, the largest man-made game and fish commission lake in the United States, or walk the trails near the Arkansas River at Cadron Settlement Park, with facilities on the National Register of Historic Places.

Massage therapy and spa services can contribute to overall health and wellness, especially when received regularly. Practicing good health practices doesn’t have to be un-enjoyable. We hope you will consider the Spa’ah to help you with your health and wellness needs, as well as the indulgences you want and deserve. Be sure to read our “What to Expect” page on our website to prepare for your first visit to The Spa’ah in Conway, Arkansas!