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Why it works … Lava Shell Massage

You may have heard of hot stone massages, but what about lava shells?  All the way from the Philippines to Dragon’s Den they arrived at The Hampshire Court Hotel in Basingstoke -  Spa Therapist Chelsea Smith explains…

What exactly is a lava shell massage?

The treatment uses polished Tiger Clam shells in a natural and eco-friendly treatment.  They are similar to hot stones but contain a heated ‘tea bag’ filled with algae and black lava, rather than being heated from the outside, so they have a more consistent heat throughout the treatment and you don’t need to keep exchanging them for new ones to maintain the temperature.  You can get a light massage or a deep tissue massage from them; we tend to focus on the back, neck and shoulder area and allow clients to choose between having their arms and hands massaged as well, or their legs and feet.

Where does it come from?

The treatment originally came from the Philippines and was brought to the UK in 2009 soaring to fame when Clare Anderson and Alison Gibbs appeared with them on Dragon’s Den.

What do they do?

The shape of the shells mimics the contours of the hands and knuckles so they are very effective for breaking down lactic acid which is caused by stress and is commonly referred to as knots.  The heat also helps to penetrate the muscles more effectively than regular massage, while the algae and black lava mix as well as the green tea essential oil that we use, aid detox.

Is there anything you do to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment?

We do all the things you would expect in a spa to encourage relaxation - the lights are low, candles are lit, beds are heated and we use a V Pillow which is extremely comfortable and helps the therapist get under the shoulders in a full body massage.  We also have a consultation with the client before the treatment to ascertain how they want to feel afterwards, so that we can tailor the depth of the massage to them.

Is there anything you recommend clients to do pre or post-treatment to get the most out of it?

Extend the relaxation process beyond the treatment itself - spend some time relaxing before and afterwards and drink lots of water.

Is there anyone you particularly recommend the treatment for?

Anyone struggling with stress, heavy shoulders, and sports injuries will feel a huge benefit from the treatment.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t have this treatment and why?

As it is a deep tissue massage, anyone suffering from serious illnesses like cancer and anyone who is pregnant should avoid it.  If you have any fruit allergies, particularly mango it’s also advisable to speak to your therapist first.


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