Saturday, April 30, 2016


Just what is a warm towel compress and how can it enhance your massage session?

Using heat during a massage has many benefits beyond just helping the body to relax. It can also help reduce bruising, soften scar tissue, reduce joint and muscle stiffness and increase blood flow in the areas where it is applied. Using moistened warmed towels is a popular way to achieve this effect.

There is a difference though between just applying a warmed towel to the body and using warmed towel compresses.

At Therapy by the Sea, there are two ways we use approach using warm towel compresses in our spa:

  • Using the massage technique of applied compression with the heated towel as the medium being worked through.
Compression is about applying relaxed weight to an area. This weight, when strategically used, helps to stretch out an area as well resetting the tissue's holding patterns. When combined with moist heat, the effects are greatly increased. The heat helps to decrystallize the fascia, brings blood flow to the tissues and overall helps soften the area for a more comfortable and relaxing massage experience.

  • Applying layered heated towels to an area and then insulating that area with additional layers to hold the heat in.

With this type of compress, layers of warmed towels are applied and then wrapped with additional towels and blankets to keep the heat in. This method is often referred to as cocooning and acts as a mini sauna to the area being treated. Unlike steam saunas though, where your whole body is immersed in heat, the compresses can be applied to specific areas. While the compress does its work on one area, our therapists work on other areas of the body. This allows your body to maintain relative comfort while the localized heat penetrates more effectively into the tissues. This is especially helpful for those who could use the benefit of added heat but tend to get claustrophobic or overheat too easily.

Using this method, the full body can be treated with such compresses, or they can be done in sections while the therapist continues to work on other areas of the body. Some of our massage and spa services, such as our scrubs and Aurvedic massage, make particular use of the this method to enhance the effects of the products being used.

We break the compresses for the full body work into 5 main areas (or quadrants): 1) back torso region, 2) back leg region, 3) front leg region, 4) front torso region, 5) furthest extremities, i.e. hands, feet, face. We usually allow 30 minutes for each area. To effectively include compresses into a full body massage, including the belly, a 150 minute (2.5 hour) session is recommended.

Compresses can be spot specific or used on multiple areas of the body. For many of our sessions we frequently include this service for at least one or two areas of the body. Though there are variations, this usually is the back torso region and the furthest extremities.

Because of the popularity of this extremely relaxing and rejuvenating method, we have also added a treatment to our menu that specializes in the application of compression massage with the cocooning compresses called CHRYSALISM DREAMS. This can be reserved as a rejuvenating stand alone treatment or added on to a longer massage session.

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