Is this a surprise? According to the ISPA 2012 U.S. Spa Industry Study, the number one treatment offered at spas in the United States is a massage. What may not be a surprise is which "types" of massage are at the top of popularity list. The report offers the following information:

Deep tissue, otherwise known as a sports massage, is the most popular massage offered at 95 percent of spas in the United States. This massage technique separates muscle groups and loosens fascia (a thin layer of connective tissue covering and supporting or connecting the muscles or inner organs of the body) so as to bring about the realignment of the body and freedom of movement.

However, some spas have "tweaked" the massage to differentiate their experience from others.  “To enhance the experience of the popular deep tissue massage we have recently added the bamboo massage to our menu," says Jackie Schieding of Bella Sante Spa in Boston. "This innovative treatment uses heated bamboo rods as an extension of the therapist’s hands to roll and knead the tissue.”

The Swedish massage is offered at 94 percent of all spas in the United States and is used to improve the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and create relaxation.

Angela Avellino, assistant spa director at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C. says, “Warm basalt stones are incorporated into our Swedish massage to enhance the guest desired outcome. Guests have the option of lotion, gel or oil and can choose from lavender, citrus ruby grapefruit, peppermint or sandalwood.”

Prenatal massage is therapeutic bodywork that focuses on the special needs of the mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of pregnancy and is offered at 89 percent of all spas in the United States.

"Our prenatal treatment utilizes a synergy of essential oils that actually assist the body during the vast amount of changes happening during pregnancy," says Ann Brown, spa director of Spa Shiki, Lake Ozark, MO. "Our goal is to make the mom-to-be as comfortable and relaxed as possible and listen to her needs, whether it be her feet, low back or any area that is strained or compromised to allow the body some time to repair and regenerate.”

Hot stone massage, involving smooth, heated stones, when used as either an extension of the therapist's hands, or by placing them on the body while they massage other parts of the body,  are offered at 87 percent of spas in the United States.

Bailey Polifka, spa manager at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nev. said, “We recommend to our guests that after a hot stone massage they should relax in the brine inhalation-light therapy lounge.  It is the perfect complement for the body to cool down and receive the added respiratory benefits from the salt aerosols and chromatherapy via the optic nerve.” 

Eighty-four percent of spas in the United States are offering aromatherapy massages. Aromatherapy massage includes the application of essential oils from plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers during the massage.

“One of the most popular massages at The Spa At The Hotel Hershey is our cocoa massage, which offers aromatherapy benefits through its use of cocoa. This treatment allows guests to release the tension and stress from their body while relaxing their mind and spirit through the scent of chocolate,” said Shian Wing, spa director at The Spa at Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa.

Rather than adding different components to current treatments, some spas are combing treatments to create a unique package treatment for their guests.

“One of our most popular massages is our massage sampler. This massage combines five different modalities into one. This 60/90 minute massage incorporates deep tissue, aromatherapy, reflexology, Swedish, and hot stones into one continuous service. Our guests love it. It is a great first massage for guests not sure what they want to try,” said Kate Mearns, spa director at The Spa in Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va.