Four-handed massage is a massage where two therapists work on you at the same time, mirroring each others' movements in order to give clients a more comprehensive treatment.
To synchronize, one therapist will take the lead while the other follows, and it will typically feel like both are doing the same thing simultaneously. For example, one might be working on one arm or leg at the same time as the other or one therapist will work on the right side of your back while the other works on the left side.
Typically, massage therapists who give four-handed massages will have worked together in the past to be able to offer more synchronicity in their movement, pressure, and pace. As a result, four-handed massages, also known as duo massages, often cost twice that of regular massages.
Getting Duo Massages While Traveling
If you're traveling and need to unwind—especially from a long, overseas flight—you can opt for this extra-immersive massage at most spas and salons that offer massage therapy as long as more than one therapist is working at the time.
When done well, a four-handed massage feels like you are completely enveloped in touch, which can be quite a wonderful experience. It costs twice as much because you have two therapists, but if you're a spa junkie and like to try anything at least once, you should definitely try it.
Four-handed massage comes out of the Ayurvedic tradition, where it is called abhyanga. Four-handed massage is trendy and has been added to spa menus at many resort spas, and some even have eight-handed massages with four therapists at once. In that setting, you are less likely to get therapists who have worked together before. For a more authentic experience, get it at a spa that specializes in Ayurvedic therapies.
Why Four Hands Are Better Than Two
Although four-handed massages might not be for everyone—especially those who are extremely sensitive to touch—they are especially good for people who have challenges letting go and relaxing during a massage.
You might be inclined to try to keep up with which therapist is where when the treatment first starts off, but as both go to work massaging your entire body, you'll soon lose track of what each therapist is doing, allowing you to fully relax into the touch.
Another benefit to working with two therapists at once is that massaging multiple parts of the body at once—especially the legs and arms—helps your blood circulate better, faster. Your full-body massage treatment will take considerably less time with two people, but you'll have all of the benefits of a full hour with one therapist, which is great if you're in a hurry to get to a meeting or check into your hotel.
Getting a Massage: Before and After
Keep in mind that four-handed massages are typically even more relaxing than regular massages, so you might even fall asleep during your treatment—which is completely acceptable and often encouraged.
However, you should not feel any pain and should feel comfortable voicing any discomfort during treatment to your therapists. Even if you're cold or ticklish, telling your therapists will greatly improve the outcome of your experience and help you reach a truly relaxed state.
Finally, you should remember to hydrate and rest before and after your massage appointment. Muscle restoration from massage largely relies on the amount of water in your system; a hydrated body is much more likely to benefit from a massage than a dehydrated one. You may also feel dizzy or lightheaded after a massage, so plan for some extra time afterward to just relax and come back into focus before you head back out on your travels.