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Is investing in regular massage really worth it?

For me, massage has been part of my anti-stress and wellness routine for several years now. Rather than an indulgence, I treat it as another tool to take care of myself. After having some shoulder and neck problems for the last 15 years and seeing Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Physical Therapists and even being told I should have back surgery by a very well-known orthopedic surgeon in New York, I stumbled upon massage as a solution.

It all happened on a business trip to the fairly rural Kauai, Hawaii – we were shooting a TV commercial on the cliffs of the garden island. After one long day of shooting, I woke up and could not turn my head or move my neck. This was not an uncommon occurrence for me….but what was uncommon is that my arsenal of medical specialists was back home in NYC. So I headed to the hotel spa in hopes they could somehow help – I honestly was not confident…I thought massage was more of an indulgent way to relax. But not only did they help…I was pain free for a whole week! This was unheard of for me in those days. I was shocked that something so simple was more effective than the elaborate and expensive medical treatments that I had been investing in. And today, with a combination of exercise and Myofascial Therapy massage, I am virtually pain free.

For sure in Asia, massage has always been a part of the culture and an essential element in remaining healthy. But for many years it was widely believed that the benefits of massage were more psychological than physical. However, today as a result of many medical studies quantifying the results, massage is increasingly recommended by physicians to treat minor aches and pains, depression, headaches, more serious injuries, sleep disorders, etc. The world renowned Mayo Clinic has proven that massage not only reduces the stress hormone cortisol, but also boosts the immune system.  CNN summarized it well in their piece, Massage: It is real medicine.

When I lived in Bangkok, I had a massage every week – my favorites being Palm Massage on Sukhumvit Soi 18 and Lavana on Sukhumvit Soi 12. This ritual cost me only 250 – 700 THB for an hour. ($7 – 20 USD / $10 – 30 SGD). So when I moved to Singapore, I must say I had sticker shock. At first, I was excited to see so many spa options on my street in Chinatown, until I saw the prices which were $130 SGD / hr ($87 USD) for massage.


So I decided to try Kenko Wellness and Reflexology Spa. I will say I was initially reluctant because my preferences are typically for non-franchise establishments….I wondered about the quality of services and I also prefer the idea of a singular, special place with its own distinct personality and environs. And to be fair while Kenko does not score overly high marks for ambiance, what it brings in spades is solid, expert aestheticians experienced in the art of reflexology and massage at surprisingly reasonable prices for Singapore.

On my first visit I tried a one-hour therapeutic massage $85 SGD ($57 USD) – the masseuse expertly kneaded with a perfect amount of pressure releasing those tell-tale knots in my upper back. On my second visit, I tried one-hour foot reflexology $60 SGD ($40USD). I was particularly impressed by my therapist strong hands…he managed to push it to the edge without being painful in some areas where I was blocked.

A note on prices…while value is not instantly apparent from the a la carte menu prices, do ask about the package prices. For example my $85 SGD ($57 USD) massage could have been $70 SGD ($47 USD) – if I bought a package of 10 sessions for $700SGD ($470 USD). And with any package, all manicures and pedicures are 50% off.

Is massage part of your personal care and wellness routine? If not, maybe it should be. Nothing is more restorative than taking an hour to take care of yourself – and if you  do have a real health concern, massage may also help provide the solution you have been seeking. There are 80 different types of massage therapy. If you wonder which one is right for you, then check out Web MD’s very thorough article on various types with helpful tips on selecting which is right for you.

Kenko Spa
13 locations in Singapore
2 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1 in Penang, Malaysia.
Visit for locations.

top image from Back to Health Chiropractic
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