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Think before you Spa


Devika Rajneesh was glad when she got into a nine-to five desk job. But her happiness was short-lived. Several hours in front of the computer every day gave her a backache and neck pain. She ignored the problem for a while and one weekend, she decided to treat herself to a good massage and walked into a most sought-after body spa in the city.

Back Pain MAssageUnfortunately, Devika’s massage session at the spa did more harm than good. While it did bring her temporary relief, a few days later, her aches and pains only worsened and she ended up in a hospital seeking professional help from a physiotherapist.

Like Devika, many men and women make the mistake of going to a body spa while they should ideally be consulting a physiotherapist or an orthopaedic, say experts.

“It’s alright if people go to a body spa for mere relaxation. But sadly, they go there looking for a cure. Spas are not curative centres. A good massage cannot be offered by someone who hasn’t undergone the right kind of training. If the massage is done by applying the wrong kind of pressure, the problem will aggravate,” says Dhananjayan R, head of department, physiotherapy, Sita Bhateja Speciality Hospital.

“When it comes to treating someone for a shoulder pain or back ache, we do not use massage as the only source of treatment. We use a lot of electrical modalities. Of course, a massage does have its positive effects. But this again depends on who is doing it and how well-trained they are,” says Dr Sunitha, physiotherapist, Fortis Hospitals.

Niraj Modi, founder of Physio Care, points out that body spas and massage parlours only provide a feel-good factor. “Although several spas claim through advertisments that they can cure pains and aches, this is not true. Understanding the biomechanics or muscular-skeletal structure is important if one is a masseuse,” he says.

One cannot point fingers only at the spas either, says Naseer Sayed, owner of Zara’s salon and spa. “There are not enough professional courses in India for a masseuse or a massage therapist. However, for our part, every time we hire a masseuse, we ensure that we hire only those with three to six years of experience and who have worked in a five-star hotel. Not just that. We even put them on probation. If we constantly get negative feedback from a client about a particular masseuse, we fire them,” he says.

“It’s not our fault if there are no proper courses for a professional masseuse. But we do try our best to offer the best of services,” adds Hemanth, manager of a private spa in HSR Layout.

Most of the ayurvedic spas are quite genuine as they follow a traditional approach, says Dr Dhananjayan. “At least there are colleges that offer professional ayurvedic courses and the candidates do undergo years of training and have a good knowledge of anatomy,” he says.

Several physiotherapists feel that people can go to a spa to rejuvenate and relax, but definitely not for seeking cures. “While physiotherapists charge not more than Rs200 per session, spas charge between Rs750 to Rs3,500 for a massage. This is a waste of money,” says Dr Bhupendra Singh, a physiotherapist.

“It’s all about awareness. People should be smart enough to know when to visit a physiotherapist or an orthopaedician. Feel free to go the spa, but please be aware that a massage therapist cannot cure you,” advises Dr Dhananjayan.

“I love massages. I often go for head, body and foot massage. But I only visit a renowned parlour like Bodycraft, which has well-trained personnel. My experience over there has been very good. Moreover, I go there for relaxation and not to treat body aches. Luckily, I haven’t had any bad experience so far,” says Ragini Dwivedi, an actor, who shows us the other side of the coin.

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