Many adults have been to a massage parlor at least once. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but many enjoy finding a quality parlor that can really soothe sore and aching muscles. It’s also a good way to help you relax and forget about your usual day-to-day thoughts even just for an hour or two.
One massage parlor service growing in popularity is the table shower massage. It’s often provided at Chinese and other Asian massage parlors, though other types of massage parlors, spas, and wellness centers offer this as well. It’s a relaxing service that helps manage stress, unfortunately, it gets a bad reputation for its erotic undertones.
In this article, we’ll explain what is a table shower, what a table shower massage entails, and debunk the myths and popular beliefs about table showers.
What Is a Table Shower?
True to its name, a table shower is simply a spa shower where a patron lies down on a modified massage table equipped with a drain. They are then treated to a shower through a horizontal bar with multiple shower heads above them.
The table shower is also commonly known as the Vichy shower, affusion shower, rain massage, or water massage. Small hole-in-the-wall parlors are unlikely to offer this service, but bigger spas equipped to handle wet services usually have something like this.
Where Did Table Showers Come From?
While table showers are commonly associated with Asian or Chinese massage parlors, it actually originated in Vichy, a city in France known for its five natural mineral springs. These springs inspired the design, hence why traditional Vichy shower designs have at least five showerheads.
By the 20th century, Vichy showers were brought to the United States and became more popularly known as table showers.
How Do Table Showers Work?
Table showers are kept in private wet rooms, as the patron will be wet from head to toe and naked (or in your undergarments or a disposable garment provided by the spa) during this treatment. To use a table shower, patrons lie down on the table before the showerheads drop water over your body. A technician then adjusts the showerheads to comfortably reach certain parts of your body. There is a drain on the bed to keep it from overflowing.
On its own, table showers are a popular form of hydrotherapy. Some spas use it to complement other treatments like massages, body wraps, and body scrubs. Spa technicians will perform these treatments while the customer relaxes on the table. People who have undergone table showers before claim that it simulates the relaxing feeling of floating on water.
The Table Shower Process
Table showers can last from 30 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the other treatments you get. Be sure to leave your belongings in a secure location, like a locker room.
First, you will have to remove all clothing and be asked to bathe thoroughly in a separate room before you can enter the table shower room. This is for hygienic purposes to get rid of any excess dirt, sweat, and particles from getting in the shower.
You may be brought to a wet room with multiple table showers. If you are uncomfortable with this, you could ask to get a private room, which may cost extra. If you are not comfortable with being naked, some spas offer disposable garments or place a towel over your private parts. Remember, table showers are not for those overly conscious about their bodies being exposed.
You will be directed to lay down on a table shower. You can start on your back or on your stomach, depending on your preference. Once comfortably settled, the technician will turn on the showerheads, adjusting the temperature based on your preference and the showerheads’ position to key points on your body.
On its own, table showers can give you a calming effect. The feeling of floating in water eases your body while the feeling of water showering over certain parts of your body causes a pulsating and massaging effect.
For other added treatments, a spa therapist may perform table shower massages or apply body scrubs and wraps. The most popular added treatment is the salt scrub, which helps remove dead skin cells from your body, leaving it fresh and clean. After these treatments, the table shower may be used to wash away any residual products left on your body.
Once finished, the technician will help you sit up and safely get out of the table. They will leave the room to let you finish drying.
Benefits of Table Showers
Like many spa services, table showers can offer many physical and mental benefits.
Improved Blood Circulation
Taking a shower at the right temperature can cause the blood to move closer to the inner organs, causing improved circulation. This can help muscles regenerate lost tissue faster and deliver oxygen to other parts of the body faster.
The feeling you get from undergoing a table shower can be relaxing and help you forget about things that are stressing your body. When prolonged, stress can make your skin age faster (making you look older) and cause physical and mental conditions like depression, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Aside from the fact that it can help you relax and reduce stress, showers release hormones that can reduce the risk of depression.
Improved Immune System
Table showers can help with lymphatic circulation, which helps your immune system work more efficiently. When your blood circulates faster, it can produce more white blood cells that make it more difficult for bacteria and viruses from infecting your body.
Those who have undergone table shower massages report its effects against migraines, headaches, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and other mild to acute forms of pain, This may be due to the fact that improved blood circulation can reduce inflammation, thus treating common types of pain.
Better Spa Experience
People who opt for table showers find that their technicians try to accommodate their entire spa experience on the table itself. If you’ve ever been on a spa day before, you know how inconvenient some treatments are, as they require you to move from room to room. With a table shower, you get to relax on a cushioned table and enjoy the whole or at least most of the experience there.
It also provides a much better spa experience because of how a table shower can easily complement other types of services. So, as a whole, your experience can be invigorating, soothing, relaxing, and rejuvenating.
Why Do Table Showers Get a Bad Rep?
Everyday massages can be done with clothes on or the customer is covered by a towel. However, because table showers are done naked or half-naked, this treatment is often associated with erotic undertones.
During the early to mid-2000s, Asian massage parlors began adding table showers to their services. It was advertised as a sensual experience, which some took to mean was a sexual or erotic one. Add in the negative perception of massage parlors in terms of foreign workers and “happy endings”, so the stereotype of associating prostitution and Asian massage parlors stuck.
It’s no help that the term “table showers” has now also become another term associated with “happy endings” in shadier massage parlors. But as long as you’re getting a table shower massage in a reputable establishment, there’s no need to worry.
Tips for Getting a Table Shower
- Table showers are not for those who are uncomfortable with being half-naked or naked in front of a spa technician. While some spas offer disposable undergarments to wear, some may not even be comfortable with showing a lot of skin. Spa technicians in reputable massage and spa parlors are professionals, so there is nothing to worry about. But, if you spend the entire time conscious about your body, you may not be able to relax and enjoy the experience.
- Ask your spa or massage parlor what their policy is on table showers before booking one. Some spas do not provide disposable undergarments and expect patrons to be naked in the treatment. Ask if you can choose a male or female technician if you feel uncomfortable being serviced by someone of a certain sex.
- If you’re worried about sexual services being offered, get a table shower from a reputable or chain spa and massage parlor rather than a boutique store. Despite the negative stereotype, it’s unlikely that your treatment will have any sexual acts. But if you want to feel safer, check the reputation of the parlor.
Contrary to what many think, table showers are much more than just a sensual experience. It’s a relaxing and refreshing treatment that can soothe your body, ease your mind, and leave you feeling refreshed and energized.