When Erin and I moved to Mexico, we were astounded by all of the traditional medicine and therapies available in and around Huatulco. Indigenous medicine is very much alive and when you live here, you will no doubt also hear about healers you can visit for various symptoms.
The tradition of massage in Mexican culture
Even though massage may be seen as a luxury in our Western civilization, massage in Mexico has its roots in tradition. Massage is an integral part of indigenous medicine and is seen and prescribed as a necessary treatment rather than a luxury or just purely for relaxation. Massage therapy being used as medicine is documented historically across many cultures. Ancient migrations from Africa and Asia even partly shaped Mexico’s traditional massage techniques descended from Mayan and Aztec cultures.
Mexican traditional massage therapists or sobadores, take into account the physical and spiritual bodies using the ancient massage techniques but also calling upon other spiritual elements like saints or Ganesh, the many-armed elephant Hindu god, who all have appeared in Mexico at some point. Sobadores may use herbs and generally perform an abdominal massage as part of the body massage, meant to stimulate and increase performance of the organs.
Huatulco is a wonderful warm place that encourages people to relax and care for themselves. One way to do that is to have a refreshing massage.
What are the benefits of massage?
Massage therapy is designed to enhance a person’s health and well-being by the manipulation of soft body tissues: muscles, connective tissues, tendons and ligaments. Trained and certified professional therapists can relieve pain, help to heal injuries, improve your circulation and relieve stress to encourage relaxation.
Loosening muscles and tendons allows increased blood flow throughout the body and improving circulation can have a number of positive effects on the rest of your body.
You will find that there are many therapists in Huatulco who specialize in different types of massage: deep tissue massage for chronic pain; massage to minimize the build-up of scar tissue after surgery, traditional Mexica massage, Swedish or acupressure massage at local spas to pamper yourself. You can find all of it in our tropical community.
The type of massage will depend on your particular needs and physical condition. For example, therapists may use a special technique for elderly clients that they would not use for athletes or for a pregnant woman.
I have listed some individuals and spas but my best advice is to ask around for recommendations from people you know who have experience with the local therapists.
What does a massage therapist do?
The first step is a conversation between you and your chosen therapist. They will get a brief history from you and ask what you would like to accomplish, are there any painful or tense areas that you want to deal with? And you will probably get a big glass of water prior to the massage.
You will be asked to undress only to your comfort level.
Massage therapists may use lotions and oils, massage tables or chairs, and medical heat lamps depending on their methods.
They will use their hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, and sometimes feet to knead muscles and soft tissue of the body in order to treat injuries and to promote general wellness. The traditional Mexica massage therapists may also use a cloth for a rolling massage technique.
The session usually begins with some broad work to include long muscles of the shoulders, back, neck, wrists, and hands. The first part is often done without lotion in order to reach into the muscles properly.
Then there will be a deeper tissue therapeutic massage, a more specific type of work that is done with lotion. The idea is to slowly lengthen and widen muscles, creating space for energy to flow.
Some extra neck work is always a great finish for a session.
And there might also be guidance at the end of the session on how to improve posture, stretching, strengthening, and overall relaxation.
A massage can be as short as fifteen minutes or could last for more than an hour. A full session will normally take 2 hours or more.
What is the workplace of a massage therapist like?
Because therapists work by appointment in most cases, their schedules will vary widely.
Massage therapists work in both private and public settings – such as private offices, spas, clinics and fitness centers. Several local therapists also travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage. In Santa Cruz there is a massage tent during the Organic Market in the village square on the first and third Saturdays each month.
Most massage therapists, especially those who are self-employed, provide their own table or chair, sheets, pillows, and body lotions or oils.
When giving a massage to help clients relax, massage therapists generally work in dimly lit settings and use candles, incense, and calm, soothing music. In our beautiful tropical area you can find open air settings with warm breezes and the ocean sounds.
What should I expect after a massage?
You may be offered information about additional relaxation techniques or exercises to practice between sessions.
Depending on your level of massage and the purpose, you may be encouraged to drink more water. Water helps to flush the released toxins from your body. Massage helps to increase the circulation of both the blood and the lymphatic system. Your blood needs water in it to keep it moving and doing its job of bringing oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, organs and other tissues. And especially in this climate it is important to drink lots of water.
You may want to apply ice to an area, have a warm bath or soak in the ocean to really get more of the benefits from the massage.
What are the costs I should expect?
The costs will vary depending on length of time and specific services but you will find them reasonable and probably much less expensive than the prices in Canada or the United States. It is good to ask for this information when you make your appointment. Individual and hotel spas will vary in type of payment expected so it is wise to ask if they prefer cash or credit card.
I have listed just a few of our massage therapists below. There are many more. Almost every hotel has a spa available. And most of the individual therapists will come to you at your home or hotel. To read more about Health Care in Huatulco, see our article What You Need to Know About Healthcare in Huatulco.
Some Local Massage Therapists:
Continental Plaza on Colorin
Daniel Tewes, CMT
Sector E, Santa Cruz
Doris Garcia Villagomez, Lic.
BG Salon & Spa Huatulco
Plaza San Carolos, Huatulco
Coyula 4 behind Banamex
Kathleen Leachman, RMT
Dr. Luis Ignacio Guevara Munoz
Dr. Roberto Ruiz Ceron
Secrets Resort & Spa
Dreams Resort & Spa
FlorLoto Holistic Center
Blvd. Benito Juarez, Plaza Punta Tangolunda
Tomy’s Spa & Salon
(several locations and will come to your home or hotel)