Who would have thought a fisherman’s rubbish from the other side of the world could feel so good? As I’m lying on my stomach enjoying the energetic deep massage my therapist is submitting me to using tiger clam shells from the South Pacific, I discover that the smooth tools were once discarded by those who had to fish them for their flesh. Step in a lateral thinking US firm that saw the potential of recycling the shells and turning them into massage therapy. Filled with a self-heating blend of minerals and salt water, they’re not that dissimilar to hot stones…. in principle.
Now, here is the catch. I really don’t like hot stones. I find that however good the therapist is it’s never deep enough and just the time it takes to put the stones up and down my body has me getting tense. Not exactly the frame of mind, right? So lava shells were a revelation – not least because my therapist Berenice was absolutely brilliant.
She enthusiastically explained the concept of Lava Rescue, alternating hot and glacial shells – the former to invigorate muscle tissues, boost circulation and increase lymphatic drainage, the latter to ease aches and pains. She then demonstrated it wasn’t all PR talk by applying a soothing green tea and mango oil, vigorously kneading my whole body, mainly with the warm shell and offering some sharp, but not unpleasant, contrast with the cold shell. No effleurage here thankfully but the real energetic use of one’s body weight to deliver a fantastically effective massage. Plus one of the many advantages of these little gems is that they reheat very quickly, creating an almost uninterrupted session.
I had the massage at John Bell & Croyden, which has a modestly sized treatment room, only one customer’s bathroom, and because it was just before Christmas, carols on the stereo. Mixed with the so-called relaxation music Berenice brought along (another pet hate of mine, the sound of birds, pan flutes and wind in the trees makes me rather twitchy) it was a surreal sound experience. The bed wasn’t as comfortable as what I’m used to in spas as it didn’t feature a hole to insert my head. But in spite of all this I left the session feeling truly elated, relaxed, lighter and on a high.
The treatment is available from in over 1,500 spas and salons nationwide. Priced from £55. www.sharedbeautysecrets.com
And for those who want to take some of the wellbeing back home, the Lava Shells Home Care Kit is available featuring one ceramic Lava Shell, massage oil and charges and activators to warm it up. The kit costs £35.
Published on National Geographic Traveller – The Collection.