When the body aches. one could say that any massage is a great massage. If you’ve had a mediocre massage, you feel cheated in both time and change (and at some of the prices, you’ll be spending a lot more than change). If you do experience, however, the hands of a gifted massage therapist in a serene setting executing therapeutic kneading and pressure – well, you don’t have to die to go to heaven. Here are some of the best to try around Chicago.

(Photo Credit: waldorfastoria3.hilton.com)

(Photo Credit: waldorfastoria3.hilton.com)

Ashiatsu
Waldorf Astoria Spa Chicago
11 East Walton St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 646-1300
www.waldorfastoria3.hilton.com

When deep tissue massage just doesn’t seem like enough, consider traditional Ashiatsu bar therapy, in which the therapist uses her bare feet with the aid of bars overhead. The therapy originated in the Philippines and is said to improve posture and relieve pain, especially for those with chronic issues. The only hotel spa in Chicago to offer this sought-after treatment, the Waldorf Astoria Spa has just one treatment room with the necessary ceiling bars and a few therapists (with the softest feet in the Midwest) trained in Ashiatsu. If you need the deeper layers of muscle tissue realigned, this one is for you.

Moody Massage
Cowshed Spa at Soho House Chicago
113-125 North Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 521-8000
www.sohohousechicago.com

With spas in London, Berlin, Miami, Somerset, NYC and now Chicago, Cowshed offers a roster of massages using its exclusive UK products and offers an inimitable vibe without the requisite flute music and faux sounds of babbling brooks. Inspired by the original Cowshed Spa at Babington House in Somerset, the spa invites you to get in and out if you’re pressed for time or hang out, sip tea and read if you can linger. Once you get past the cheeky verbiage (knackered, grumpy, wild or moody), this massage is tailored to your present state of mind. The full body massage uses its straightforward products made with organic plant extracts and other 100% natural stuff.

Infrared Detox Body Wrap & Massage
Allyu – The Art of Healing
600 West Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 755-1313
www.allyuspa.com

You can get your eyebrows threaded, chakras balanced or have a sit in the meditation tent at Allyu, but you might want to go for massage therapy at this space which feels more like a place for healing arts as opposed to a venue for selling overpriced products. There are wonderful standard massage therapy services (60, 90 and 120 minutes) which are customized, based on your needs and preferences, but try the Infrared Detox Body Wrap which includes either a 40- or 60-minute massage dry brushing to prepare the skin and stimulate the lymphatic/immune system. Castor bean oil is applied to your body and you become a burrito of sorts wrapped in an infrared heat blanket. The cleansing sweat and softening of muscle tissue gets your body ready for the massage.

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Thai Massage
Harmonious Healing Touch
1435 West Sherwin Avenue
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 848-2448
www.harmonioushealingtouch.com

Voted The Best Massage Therapist in Chicago in 2013, 2011, 2010 and 2008 by readers of the Chicago Reader, Laurie DeMyer offers Thai Massage “becasue everone needs to be stretched.” She guides you through a series of Yoga postures, palming, thumbing and using her feet along the body’s energy meridians and pressure points. DeMyer says, “Thai Massage is by far the best style because the client actually heals from every treatment. I’m ok with spa massages if the client wants to drool on a table and be treated as the last and the next client, but my massage changes people and they heal from every session!”

Foot Massage
Yamato’s Foot Massage & Bar
152 West Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 643-8588
www.yamatomassagebar.com

Want to know what it’s like to walk on air? Popular in Los Angeles for decades, venues specializing in foot massage are taking hold in Chicago and Yamoto’s is right there ahead of the pack. Sure. most spas offer reflexology, however, Yamoto’s takes it seriously with deep foot massage combined with traditional modalities as well as a focus on the feet with the 60-, 90- or 120-minute Yamoto Foot Reflexology session: a Tibetan herb foot soak with scalp, shoulders, arms and hands massaged then acupuncture points on the foot stimulated and hot lava stones warm your lower digits. Oh, and there’s wine, bubbly and spirits, too.

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.