Taking the world by storm and sounding a little cheeky, a Herbal Ball massage is the thrill you’ll get sneaking out of the office early to get yours done. But what exactly is it?
What it is:
Herbal Ball Massages or Thai Herbal Compress, is a treatment in which you are massaged used a small ball of aromatic herbs.
In Thailand, the practice of Herbal Ball Massages is called luk pra kob which roughly translates to “herbal pressing sphere” (a little more formal). Usually, a small ball of herbs such as ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass are wrapped into a muslin compress, and then steamed to get all the goodies out. After the ball (or sphere if you want to be posh) is as steamed as a well made xiao long bao, it is then gently pressed against the body in rolling motions, working through all your knots and leaving you seeing God.
The treatment can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes where by your masseuse will have two compresses, one being used on your body and the other steaming in wait for it’s turn on your body.
Where did it come from:
The practice of Herbal Ball Massages dates back nearly 5,000 years to an old timey era of plants and herbs as a cure for all. Ingestion, aroma, and application directly to the body of certain herbs were used to cure various ailments and soothe the soul. Traditionally Thai, Herbal Ball massages were used by Thai royalty as a treatment for their stressful palace lives (there are a lot of rooms in palaces which must get exhausting when trying to find someone), and for soldiers returning from battle.
Some scholars believe that herbal massages were first introduced into Thailand by monks from India, around 200 BCE when the first Buddhist monasteries popped up. Another theory is that it came through whispers around the campfires and through family secrets passed down from one generation to another. Either way, it is here in Hong Kong and we love it!
Extremely popular in Thailand with many massage parlours offering the treatment, Herbal Ball massages have finally made it to Hong Kong with a number of salons across the city offering this delectable treatment.
Why it is beneficial for you
Do we really need to tell you that a massage is good for you? (spoiler: it is). Massages help your body to release tension, relax muscles, ease aches and pains, and pretty much make you feel good. Herbal Ball massages take on a whole other level of relaxation as it is the massage experience you know and love paired with an aromatic adventure that sends you back in time to an era without the stress of modern life (traffic, Instagram, queues at lunch etc.)
The ingredients in your ball vary from place to place, but here are some herbs that you may smell during your massage and why you’ll love to have them all over you.
Delicious in a drink and the name of Fred Astaire’s dance partner, ginger is fantastic at reducing inflammation in the body. Ginger has been used in medicine and therapy for thousands of years, with the ancient Chinese noting that it aided the absorption of other medicines.
Current studies have confirmed that it helps to lower levels of “prostaglandis” in the body, the chemicals responsible for pain and inflammation. Also used to cure motion sickness, morning sickness, and altitude sickness, ginger’s use outside of the kitchen is incredible.
Grown on a shrubby little tree with a heart of gold, tamarind has been utilised in Ayurvedic medicine to help ease gastric problems and bacterial skin infections (plus, it makes food tasty!). The leaves of the tamarind tree are used in herbal balls, and as an added bonus they can help to exfoliate the skin and invigorate life into your skin cells.
(psst. If you’re interested in learning about Ayurveda and it’s ridiculously wonderful benefits to the bod, have a sneak peak at this)
Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime:
Another delicious taste and smell, lemon grass and kaffir lime is commonly found in Asian cooking, and also in herbal balls. Ridiculously fragrant, these two citrus wonders are perfect for relieving stress and make you smell amazing. It is also said that breathing in the smell of lemon grass and kaffir limes can help your muscles to relax more, which means that the masseuse can get right in there (that’s what we want).
Lavender is wonderful, even the colour itself looks relaxing. When used in a herbal ball, this aromatic flower relaxes your body and mind simultaneously, and can send you off to Lala land if you’re not careful. Perfect for those who may be feeling a little anxious or stressed with life, Lavender aromas mixed with a gentle massage is just right for you. Also fantastic at helping you sleep better, any massage with lavender can help you recover from a nasty red-eye flight or a surprisingly big night out in Lan Kwai.
What you need to prepare:
Like any good massage, use some foresight before heading in. Take a light bag and your loosest bra to make sure that the masseuses hard work isn’t completely undone by a heavy shoulder strap. It may also be useful to consider wearing something floaty to match with your after-massage-floaty-feeling.
With herbal ball massages, be sure to tell the masseuse if the ball is too hot for your skin (or not hot enough). And, as always, let the masseuse know what works for you and what doesn’t.
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Taking the world by storm and sounding a little cheeky, a Herbal Ball massage is the thrill you’ll get sneaking out of the office early to get yours done. But what exactly is it? What it is: Herbal Ball Massages or Thai Herbal Compress, is a treatment in which you are massaged used a small…