The truth is 90% of the spas out there are very similar when it comes to massage value, and the word “therapy massage” is bantered around freely and means nothing. To really get a top end therapy massage spa is rare and expect to pay a hefty price tag for it.
The Feel Versus The Result
How a spa feels when you are in it is not relevant to how good the massage value is!
The little bullet jets which are inexpensive and put out a low volume of water under high pressure “feel” like they are doing a lot because they really assault the dermal layer where all our nerve endings are. Because of this the perception is they are giving a good massage but the reality is they are not putting out enough water to penetrate into the muscle tissue, it’s an illusion… although you feel during the massage that you are really getting good deep muscle massage it does little to actually loosen up the muscles and you don’t really notice much long-term relief in terms of muscle stiffness and mobility. Conversely, I have had a number of customers who have moved from a low or mid-end massage spa into a real hi-end therapy spa using a huge amount of the Hi-flow low-pressure massage jets and their initial reaction is that the jets don’t “Hit ” as hard and they don’t feel like they are getting much massage benefit. But with regular use they feel much better with increased mobility and less muscle tension.
The reason is this; The Big Hi-Flow jets flow a massive amount of water but at a lower pressure so it moves the whole muscle instead of just affecting the dermal layer. The result is while they do not feel like they are doing as much work they are actually doing much more for the deep muscle. Regular use of a good therapy spa will make massive long-term difference to how you feel, your mobility levels and your muscle tension.
So how do you know a spa is really going to perform good therapy quality massage?
You can easily determine how a seat is going to perform without the dreaded wet test. Wet testing a hot tub is rarely done for a number of reasons ranging from embarrassment to time constraints and the truth is salespeople push them more for the psychological effect on the buyer than any real desire to have you try the spa. By wet testing you form a bond with the hot tub, you are in it, it feels good and there is an ownership bond that happens, plus you feel more obliged to the salesperson for taking their time and intruding into their spa.
The reality is salespeople are taught to push wet tests more as a closing tool than any other reason. Plus as we said earlier, the cheap harsh jetting “feels” like it is better massage than the expensive high flow jetting and unless you can try the spa for a week and see the long-term effects on your body the reality is you are likely to buy the one that “feels” the best for the little time you are exposed to it rather than the one that really does the job and makes a difference to your mobility and well-being.
How can you tell a really good therapy massage spa from the rest?
Easy… look at the jets and the available power to the main therapy seat.
It’s really as easy as this:
So if we look at most hot tubs main therapy seats we have 2 or 3 big jets 2 or 3 of the mid-sized jets and a pile of the little jets. The chair shares a pump with 2 or 3 other seats and the performance is mid grade. If we look at a really top end therapy massage chair there will be 4 or 5 of the big therapy jets and 5 or 6 of the mid flow jets and it will have the ability to put a 5 Hp or even a 6 Hp pump dedicated just to that one seat, usually through a diverter valve that lets the user control the flow to the seat.
The reality is you need a combination of both a lot of the high-end large jets and the ability to flow at least an entire 5hp pump to the main seat! Having a pile of good jets without the pump power or having the pump power without a bunch of the high-end jets is useless.
What about Hips, Legs, and Feet?
The biggest problem with Hips legs and feet is that even the big 5″ Hi flow therapy jets do not flow enough water to get into a really big joint like your Hip or knee or dig into a big muscle like your thigh Glute, or erector. The standard jet just does not cut it for these tough parts nor does it supply the kind of heavy lifting that your feet need, similarly, really big muscles like glutes and thigh muscles really need a pounding to loosen them up.
While many salespeople will try and sell a lounge seat with leg and foot jets as a solution for leg and foot massage the reality is they will never be able to offer serious therapy for these big tough bits. For a person like me with a real lower back issue, and multiple orthopedic bust-ups the best thing I have found to really give me good deep tissue massage is the massive 12″ foot jets and only if you can divert a whole pump to them.
The only thing that will really get results is one or two of the massive 12″ 14 nozzle monster jets in the foot area that you can put an entire 6 hp pump to the monster jet. For hip, glutes, and erectors it rocks! If it has a good open seating area you can sit right down in the floor and get your lower back, hips and all the really tough bits onto that monster jet for some serious massage therapy.