Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shiatsu massage saves the long haul flight!

If you've ever flown across the world, you'll know how grim you feel after the first 10 or 12 hour leg from Europe to some point in Asia, and the unbridled joy of then having to fold yourself back into a cramped economy seat and endure another 8 or 9 hours. Ugh...travelling is awesome but long haul flights are horrendous.

I had a two-hour stop over in Singapore on my way from London last week, and for the first time ever, decide to have a massage in the spa at Changi Airport.

Rainforest by SATS is a nice little oasis in the middle of one of my favourite airports in the world. Indeed, Changi Airport is frequently voted as the airport people would most prefer to be stuck in for 24 hours. It's clean, efficient and full of great shops.

For a minimal fee you can use the spa's shower facilities, and they offer a range of massage and beauty services.

I had never had a shiatsu massage before, and opted for the 1-hour full body massage - any excuse to spend as much time horizontal in the middle of my long journey home!

Shiatsu originated in Japan, and uses predominantly the fingers and palms of the hand to apply pressure to the body. It also works on clearing blocks in the meridians, or energy lines that run all over the body. The seated massage course I did with Touchpro UK works on the principles of shiatsu, and acupressure points.

My therapist, Angie, showed me to the treatment room. There were three couches in the room, and two people were already in the process of their massage.

Shiatsu massage is typically done on clothed clients, on a standard massage table or the floor. It seemed to be a really versatile form of massage - perfect for an airport spa enviroment, because there were no oils involved. I don't think I'd have liked an oil massage before climbing back onto the jumbo tin can.

The massage techniques were firm and brisk - it always amazes me how petite women like Angie can apply so much pressure.

I recognised some of the techniques Angie was applying, from what I'd learnt in my various courses. There were certainly a lot of circular frictions around the knots in my shoulders, which creaked and crunched away. I could feel Angie's elbow at work too - using the point of the elbow to get into tight muscles saves the therapists hands, and you can get extra leverage and pressure by bending the elbow. Fwaw...this was the perfect antidote for long haul flights.

The massage was comprehensive, including my head and feet. I find I tend to curl my feet into weird positions in the plane, so it was great to have them straightened out.

Angie and I chatted about massage, and different techniques. She'd been doing shiatsu for years.

When the massage finished, I felt revived and more alert than I had when I came in. I will definitely opt for a massage to break up future long haul flights.

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