Not so typical spas in Poland Posted by on Mar 17, 2012 in Culture, Nature, Places to visit

What comes to mind when you think of the word spa? White fluffy bathrobes, reviving facials and relaxing massages in tranquil surroundings? In Poland however, “spa” means so much more, with many spa resorts offering a wider selection of treatments than anywhere else in Europe – ranging from luxury pampering to more medical-oriented care for the elderly or those recovering from illness.

Spa resorts can be found in over 40 towns and cities across Poland, from the Baltic coast in the North, to the mountainous regions in the South. They tend to be clustered around microclimates, pockets of air-pressure that can have particular benefits for conditions such as asthma (astma) or high blood-pressure (wysokie ciśnienie krwi). Just think how revived you feel after spending a couple of days at the coast, breathing in the iodine-rich sea air – the effect is exactly the same. Spa resorts also tend to be found close to natural sources of mineral rich mud and thermal waters, which are often incorporated into a wide variety of healing and rejuvenating treatments.

What makes spa resorts in Poland so unique? Compared to spa resorts in other parts of the world, there is a much stronger emphasis on health and wellbeing. As well pampering treatments such as facials and pedicures, you can expect to find highly qualified dermatologists, physiotherapists and nutritionists. There is usually a medical doctor on call, particularly at the spa resorts which have a strong emphasis on rehabilitation. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the facilities and types of treatment on offer, so again it is crucial to research thoroughly before booking your stay – don’t always assume that a spa break in Poland will mean a decadent, pampering break!

As you would expect, many spa resorts offer swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms and Jacuzzis, as well as quiet places to relax and meditate, however there are also several treatments that are uniquely Polish, and which are not so widely available outside of Poland. For instance, kryotherapy involves spending 2-3 minutes in a chamber where the atmosphere is carefully controlled and the temperature is chilled to -135°C. While this may seem extreme, the atmosphere is kept dry, which makes it bearable and you emerge glowing and feeling energised.  It has been proven to be beneficial in boosting the immune system and is commonly used to treat sports injuries, although it has also been reported to ease conditions as diverse as arthritis, cellulite and stress.
For a more gentle form of spa therapy, you might like to try a salt cave:  these are naturally occurring in certain parts of Poland, with the most famous example being found in Wielieczka, near Kraków. The iodised atmosphere within these salt caves has been proven to be beneficial in easing thyroid and bronchial conditions. Some spa resorts have successfully recreated them within their resorts in order to harness these healing benefits.
Here are the most popular Spa Treatments in Poland:

Hydro-massage (hydromasaż) – pressurised water jets are used to massage the body. This relaxes tense muscles, increases blood flow to tissues, and increases the lymph flow.
Therapeutic mud treatments (błote zabiegi lecznicze) – specific parts of the body are covered with a mud pack of set temperature and thickness for deep-warming of the body, achieving an anti-inflammatory, regenerating and anti-bacterial effect.
Classic massage (masaż klasyczny) – applied to the whole body or locally, massage involves a specific succession of such techniques as stroking, and kneading. It improves circulation, increases tissue elasticity, relaxes tense muscles, and improves lymph circulation.
Magneto-therapy (magnetoterapia) – treatment with a variable magnetic field improves peripheral circulation, accelerates regeneration processes such as healing of wounds and fractures, and has a painkilling, anti-inflammatory and soothing effect.
Power showers (prysznice z hydromasażem) – a shower in water of varying pressure and temperature stimulates circulation, which has a calming effect and helps build up immunity.
Salt Caves (jaskinie solne) – relaxing in pure air saturated with therapeutic sodium chloride as well as magnesium and calcium ions has been reported to ease conditions such as bronchitis and rheumatism.
Cryotherapy (krioterapia) – the stimulating effects of extremely low temperatures, from -120°C, achieved using liquid nitrogen. This acts on the body’s surface for 2-3 minutes, and causes a defensive reaction, leading to a painkilling, swelling-reducing and anti-inflammatory effect.
Definitely try at least one of these when you are in Poland!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.