Give me your tired, you’re stressed, you’re sick and tired of being sick tired. Sore ankles, crooked neck, lower back pain, upper back pain, even my hair hurts.
Raise your hand if you agree… not too fast! You don’t want to pull a muscle.
While the world has been locked down, not getting enough exercise for over a year, we in Lisbon have the added incumbrance of tiresome terrains to face when we finally do get out for a stroll.
Then there’s another stress-factor weighing on many of us, just for good measure. With so much technology, I know I am not the only one also worrying about the repercussions this lack of physicality is having on our children. My 11-year-old stepson plays Fortnite 50% of the time. The other half, I watch in horror at his neck sloped down as he scrolls YouTube and TikTok. He started cracking his own knuckles, back, and neck by age nine. “You’ll develop a hump!” I have warned. He laughs, brushing me off to Google “old” “people” “humps” and find funny videos of hunchbacked octogenarians, assuming he will never become one.
I had no choice. I had to take him for a massage (mainly because I needed one, and he was with me in Lisbon that week, admittedly). Whilst I worried it might be too intense for my little guy, turns out the words “more pressure” come to the child quite naturally.
When it comes to finding tension relief in Lisbon, I have since become quite the connoisseur. From massages to dry needling (sounds scary, feels fantastic!), here are your best options to rub out the pain.
Best Thai Massage
The closest thing to Thailand I have found in Lisbon, located in Martim Moniz. Siam Thai Massage is the only option if you want a proper Thai massage, because everyone who works there is actually from Thailand. Do not be fooled, these massage therapists may look like timorous little ladies, but they are strong. If you want the best, go to the source for an amazing body beating, stretching, and all the innately special Thai techniques that make the land so famous for their massages – albeit the price but we use Euros not Thai Baht—when looking for a good knead, there’s no reason for greed. On that bank note, I have found costs are most reasonable at the no-frills, all-quality, Siam, where a Thai traditional 60-minute massage starts at 45 euros. Santo, the owner, greets me with a cheerful “Hi Sarah!”, whenever I call to book so clearly, often. Kop Khun Ka!
Best Relaxing, Therapeutic Oriental Massage
If you can’t handle the intensity of Thai, go to Terra Heal for a more Zen experience. They offer quality variations of Oriental massages to relieve pain, tension, stiffness, knots, correct posture, unblock the energetic channels of the body through acupressure, manipulations, and simply relax. Terra Heal on, R. da Madalena, is great for after long walks, longer hours of mask-adorned travel, carrying heavy bags. I suggest grabbing an Uber after your massage of choice because you will want to avoid walking any hills, and Terra Heal (like most places in Lisbon) is on one. Here is where I enjoy a deep 30-minute massage when I need a little fix, however, they offer everything from a 15-minute quickie chair rub to 120 minutes of full-body bliss.
PHYSIOKINESIS in Campo Pequeno is my clinic of choice for any muscular injury. Can’t turn your neck because you slept funny? Pulled a muscle in your back? This is your place. It is also where I request the aforementioned dry needling, a procedure so minimally invasive yet oh-so effective, in which an acupuncture needle is inserted directly into a muscle trigger point, causing involuntary contractions of the affected muscle fibres, which immediately relax after. The technique is commonly confused with traditional Chinese acupuncture. Although an acupuncture needle is used, the therapy is based on the traditional reasoning of Western medicine and neurophysiological principles. The clinic also offers a variety of other physio therapies, as well as clinical Pilates training, lymphatic draining and more.
Best Mobile Massage
Why leave the comfort of your own home when the magician of the human body can come to you? I first called Susana Aguiar during lockdown for tightness in my neck and shoulders. She spent two hours using her home-made oils and uniquely tailored approach to osteo-meets-chiro-meets-hello-I-feel-great! Above I mentioned lymphatic drainage, a process definitely not for the fragile (it hurts!), and Aguiar is the clinician to feel the pain with. Lymphatic drainage helps the body to eliminate excess fluids and toxins, facilitating the treatment of cellulite, swelling or lymphedema. It stimulates the lymphnodes to be active thereby decreasing fluid retention. Then she shapes you, by hand – don’t ask me how—and brings in a roller with suction cups of different dimensions that slide over the skin reduce cellulite and localized fat. To put it plainly: You look thinner after this lymphatic business! Did I mention it hurts? Working out hurts more, in my opinion. However, Aguiar is also a personal trainer if you actually want to do the work with some coaching, she will happily beat you up then rub you down.
Best for Location & a Purrrrfect Selection
The Cat of Oz has every massage you can think of. The bi-levelled spot located on R. dos Douradores right by all the tourist attractions of the city’s centre manages to hit, well the spot, just about every time. Despite being so central, the vibe is as tranquil as a massage spa should be with little rock gardens and other feng shui affects. The therapists will generally tailor a bit to fit your ailments, so despite offering Shiatsu, Tui na, Ayurvedic, and Thai (stick with Siam for Thai, I beg of you), ask for a deep relaxing massage for the timeframe of your choice. I find that to achieve maximum relaxation at this location, a 60-minute treatment is the cat’s meow.
Cheers to happy endings, Lisbon. No, not those happy endings (get your minds out of the gutter, my gosh). Allow me to rephrase.
Cheers to the end of aches and pains, Lisbon!