Oriental remedial massage is a real institution in Maghreb. Every week, Arab men and women meet in the hammam to purify and relax. And thanks to its proximity to the sea, thalassotherapy is also very popular.
For example, Tunisia, my husband's country of origin, has about forty thalassotherapy centres. It is a destination that allows you to enjoy the benefits of seawater at very competitive prices. Tunisia is thus the second destination after France to offer itself an iodine cure. It is staffed by qualified staff. Many Tunisian spa centres offer relaxing treatments. A thalassotherapy cure in this privileged country not only helps you to avoid fatigue for a long time, but also to escape... a few hours by plane from Paris.
Etymologically speaking, massage comes from Arabic mass, which means "to knead", "to feel", "to press".
It is therefore not surprising that massage itself has its roots in the Maghreb countries.
The development of hammams and massages in the Maghreb is said to be due to the Prophet Mohammed and dates back to the 7th century.
Discovering steam baths and massages that accompany them in his Greek and Roman neighbours, Mohammed was immediately convinced by their purifying properties on the body and mind. He then reportedly registered them in religious practices and encouraged the building of hammams in annex to mosques.
A few centuries later, in the 11th century precisely, an eminent Iranian doctor and philosopher, Avicenna, wrote about all the therapeutic good he thought massages were for, stressing that they were intended to "dissipate harmful substances in the muscles and which are not eliminated by physical exercise."
It is important to know that, in Maghreb culture, oriental remedial massage is an integral part of a three-step ritual:
Before the massage, the room is embalmed with incense, and the body of the person being massaged is coated with essential oils with scents of eucalyptus, olive or argan.
Oriental remedial massage is performed from head to toe, following the muscular path. It alternates between mixing, kneading, smoothing. Feeling under her expert hands the knots and muscular tensions, the practitioner insists on the painful areas, especially in the back.
She also works around the belly, drawing circles clockwise with her hands. Finally, it lingers in the solar plexus and opens the rib cage by pressure.
The session usually ends with a few minutes of relaxation accompanied by the traditional refreshing and digestive mint tea.
Oriental remedial massage allows a rapid evacuation of nervous tensions and toxins, loosens and softens muscles, and plunges into a state of intense relaxation. Argan oil is particularly rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E and polyphenols, and is usually used during massage to strengthen cellular functions and nourish the skin, leaving it soft and satiny. This technique strengthens the immune system, stimulates blood circulation, and is effective against stress and fatigue. In general, this type of treatment regenerates the body.
If the benefits of this massage are numerous, both physically and mentally, the relaxation and well-being it provides are undoubtedly what best characterizes it. Indeed, the ritual accompanying the oriental massage fully participates in its effectiveness, and the people practicing it seek above all to get rid of their tensions accumulated daily.
During the massage itself, the practitioner massages all parts of the body, previously oiled, from head to toe. To do this, it follows the muscular path, and lingers on certain areas or points, depending on the tensions and knots detected on the patient's body. The abdomen, and in particular the solar plexus, are also the subject of particular attention, in order to eliminate any tensions and to provide maximum well-being. The session usually ends with a little relaxation, followed by traditional mint tea, with digestive and refreshing virtues.
It takes on average one hour to fully enjoy the benefits of an oriental massage, to which it is advisable to add a good quarter of an hour of steam bath, or hammam. Even if this step is not systematic, it is an integral part of the tradition of oriental massage, and is offered in most institutes.