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High End Massage-Therapy Spas
" The truth is, 90% of the spas out there are similar when it comes to massage value - and the word 'therapy massage' is bantered around freely and means nothing. To really get a high-end therapy massage spa is rare and expect to pay a hefty price for it. "
The Feel Vs. 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 you are really getting a 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-tier massage spa, into a real high-end therapy spa using a huge amount of the high-flow low-pressure massage jets; Their inital reaction is that the jets dont "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 high-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/skin 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 a massive long-term difference to how you feel, your mobility levels, muscle tension and more.
" There are a ton of great reasons to spend some of your recreation dollars on a hot tub, so what about
the Massage Value?... "
Whilst almost any well-built hot tub will supply the other benefits, there are very few hot tubs that really kick-ass and offer a really high-end therapy massage experience! The marketing would have you believe it's the number of pumps! or the number of jets! or the contour of the seating, or some special jet that only they can give you, or individual seat controls, or sequencers... But the reality is none of these things are any more than sidetrack issues when it comes to finding a really top-end therapy massage spa!
So how do you know if 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, sales people 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 obligated to the sales person for taking their time and "intruding" into their spa.
The reality is, sales people are taught to push wet tests more as a closing tool than any other reason. As we said earlier, the cheap harsh jetting "feels" like it is a 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 in 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:
- The little jets are worth $10 and flow small amounts of water at high pressure and feel like they are doing a lot.
- The 3" mid-flow jets are worth about $25 and are getting into the therapy massage volumes of water.
- The big 5" jets can be as much as $45 and are capable of flowing huge amounts of water and giving a real deep tissue massage; if, and only if, there is a big pump supplying a ton of water to them.
- Those massive 10" 14-nozzle monster jets in the floor? If they have a diverter so you can really put the water to them, you can pay ~ $300-$500 just for this feature.
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 high-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 5Hp or even a 6Hp pump dedicated just to that one seat, usually through a diverter value 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" high-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 sales people 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 a 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 6Hp pump to the monster jet. For hips, 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.