Blackberry Thumb – the spa treatment solutions to job stress

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Exec Lifestyles: Massage that aching ‘BlackBerry thumb’

Sometimes, it just takes a while for trends in Europe to catch on here. In the case of spa treatments, it’s taken centuries.

What’s driving the increasing popularity of massages and other spa treatments is an increased attention to personal wellness, experts say, and the recognition that a visit to the spa can have tangible effects on both your physical and mental well-being.

Located in one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, Brookstreet’s Au Naturel Wellness & Medical Spa offers dozens of treatments designed to combat the stresses and strains of modern life. Au Naturel has recently introduced a BlackBerry massage, billed as a helping hand for high-tech businesspeople experiencing soreness from working on PDAs and laptops.

This treatment, performed on a massage chair, eases tension in the hand and arm muscles, specifically in the thumb and overworked wrist area.Massages typically run anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, with a range of styles and techniques to suit your preference or specific physical concerns. Au Naturel offers a deep tissue massage targeting sore, aching muscles. The popular Thai yoga massage involves passive stretching and acupressure.

“While many hotel guests enjoy our services, the majority of our clients are local people who come in quite regularly and most of them say their number-one reason for coming is to reduce stress,” said Au Naturel’s manager Suzanne Sobhray. “At least 40 per cent of our regulars are men, and this number is growing steadily.

“They come in primarily for massages, but are seeking esthetic services as well.”

Like many other reputable spas in Ottawa, Au Naturel employs registered massage therapists, meaning their services are partially or fully covered by many health care insurance programs, particularly if they’ve been prescribed by a doctor. “It’s long been known that massage offers many physical benefits,” explained Ms. Sobhray. “It increases your circulation, reduces stress and helps promote healing after workplace or sports injuries. We have many athletes, recreational and professional, who come in on a weekly basis; they have made massage therapy a part of their regular training and recovery regime.”

Chelsea’s Le Nordik Spa is a traditional Scandinavian-style centre, combining some of the most ancient principles of spa treatments. “Our method is based on a regime which is thousands of years old,” said Michel Bourgeois, Le Nordik’s operations manager. “We start with heat, either in a steam bath or a Finnish dry sauna; the process of sweating helps to hydrate skin and remove toxins as well as stimulating the circulation and the body’s adrenalin. Next is a brief dip into very cold water which closes the pores, rinses and refreshes skin and stimulates endorphins. Following this is a period of relaxation to let your body chemistry do its work and give your muscles time to relax.”

Le Nordik operates in a beautiful natural setting just 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa. “We have quite a few executives that come in regularly for a restorative treatment, consisting of a cycle or two in the baths followed by a massage; they finish up in our restaurant with a little wine and cheese,” explained Mr. Bourgeois.

“Often we see bosses returning with their employees, making a spa event into a team-building experience.”

The York Street Spa is a tranquil oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the ByWard Market. General manager Maria Louisa D’Adderio confirmed that like other area spas, their massage treatments are particularly popular. “Recently I had a 52-year-old man in here for the first time. He admitted to being quite nervous before heading into the therapeutic sauna prior to his massage. Afterwards, the first words he said to me were, ‘why have I waited so long to do this?'”

Ms. D’Adderio said massage treatments promote an all-over sense of well being, eliminating both physical and mental tension. The York Street Spa’s clientele is at least 40 per cent male, she noted.

Mr. Bourgeois added that the increasing popularity of spa treatments is due to baby boomers’ focus on wellness. “People want to take care of themselves and . . . there are distinct benefits to spa treatments.

“Some of them even admit that regular massage keeps them in better shape to meet the stresses of their demanding jobs, and it’s actually improving their golf game,” he said.

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