- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008

R aindrop therapy. No, it’s not a matter of torrential raindrops splashing off your head and shoulders (although that might feel good, too). It’s a massage therapy that involves drip-dropping herbal essential oils up the spine to relax and align.

Nine oils - seven of them herbal - are used in this 80-minute treatment offered at Splash, the spa at Sports Club/LA in the District’s West End neighborhood.

“The goal is to stimulate the nervous system and relax the body and mind,” says Kelley McCaleb, massage therapist.

Ms. McCaleb starts the treatment with the client’s feet, just holding, warming and kneading. She then moves to the essential oil portion of the treatment, dripping the various herbal oils - in a particular order - onto the spine.

“Each oil has medical healing properties,” Ms. McCaleb says.

Cypress oil, for example, improves circulation, while marjoram relaxes the nervous system, she says.

After an oil is carefully dripped onto the spine, Ms. McCaleb fans the drops toward the waist and the shoulder blades with a gentle fingertip touch, creating an almost tickly sensation that radiates up through the neck and head.

The idea is to excite the nervous and circulatory systems, creating an “energy flow” throughout the body, she says.

She then goes on to give deeper tissue massage, relaxing knots and other tensions, relaxing and releasing muscles.

The experience and treatment go beyond just the body. The mind is part of the equation, too.

“It’s the mind-body connection,” Ms. McCaleb says. “About feeling grounded and centered.”

She says the ideal candidate for the raindrop treatment could be a client who is “frazzled,” with the mind racing every which way.

The oils - she also uses oregano (anti-inflammatory), thyme (antibacterial) and basil (antispasmodic) - stay in the skin and muscles for up to seven days, she says, giving the client benefits long after the treatment is finished.

All this mind-body goodness is $204 for 80 minutes.

Says Heather Levy, the spa director, of the raindrop massage: “Most people come in to get scrubbed down and relax, and that’s great. But ideally, I want people to learn something about themselves through a treatment. Something about how their body works, something about the mind-body connection. … The raindrop treatment can teach you something about that connection.”

Aside from the raindrop treatment, the spa also offers several other out-of-the ordinary treatments, including a green-tea-and-ginger facial and a cinnamon spice, brown sugar and vanilla body polish. The tea facial is spotlighted this month, which means clients get 10 percent off the 50-minute $144 treatment. It’s touted as a calming, soothing, hydrating and detoxifying treatment.

The body polish will be spotlighted in October; clients will get 10 percent off the 50-minute $167 treatment. It’s touted as a exfoliating, moisturizing, soothing and hydrating treatment.

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