|A Brief History of Spa
Although the proliferation of spas in recent years might lead one to think that they are a recent development of the
20th century, the earliest spas -- or "baths" -- date back several thousand years to various civilizations, including
Mesopotamia, Egypt and ancient Greece. But it was during the time of the Roman Empire that baths began making
the transformations that would eventually lay the groundwork for the spas we have come to know today.
There are several theories suggesting how the word "spa" came into being, including the Latin word "espa," meaning
fountain, or the word "spagere," meaning bubble up, to scatter, sprinkle or moisten. Other possible origins include
"Salus Per Aquam," Latin for health by water; "Solus Per Aqua," meaning to enter through water; "Salut Per Aqua,"
Latin for health or relaxation through water; and "Sanitas Per Aquas," for health through water.
Initially, the Romans used natural hot springs and thermal baths as a means of health and wellness, initially for the
benefit of wounded soldiers. Over time, however, thermal and mineral baths evolved into elaborate structures, used
for socializing and relaxation, as well as continued medical treatment.
Today, spas fill many of the same needs as they did thousands of years ago, including relaxation, wellness and
stress relief by incorporating many of the same methods embraced by the ancients such as a multitude of
hydrotherapy treatments, body scrubs and massage therapy, one of the most widely used spa treatments.
Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, with references in medical texts nearly
4,000 years old. In fact, Hippocrates, known as the "father of medicine," referenced massage when he wrote, in the
4th century B.C.: "The physician must be acquainted with many things, and assuredly with rubbing."
Now days, in addition to "rubbing," massage therapy, often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the
application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed or
movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily the hands,
although massage therapists do use other areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. All of the
techniques are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the
body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences the overall health and well-being of the client. It's physical and
mental benefits include:
Relaxing the whole body
Loosening and relieving tired, aching and tight muscles
Increasing flexibility and range of motion
Diminishing chronic pain
Calming the nervous system
Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
Enhancing skin tone
Aiding in recovery following injuries and illness
Strengthening the immune system
Reducing headaches and mental stress
Promoting restful sleep
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