What Is Watsu Massage Therapy? The Health Benefits & Risks

What is Watsu Massage Therapy? This therapy proves to be a beneficial form of hydrotherapy for stress reduction and overall health improvement. Combining elements of shiatsu massage with water, this gentle and calming experience offers both physical and emotional healing. In this article, we will explore the advantages of this popular aqua therapy, discuss potential side effects, and provide insights into what to expect during a Watsu Massage Therapy session.

What Is Watsu Massage Therapy The Health Benefits & Risks
What Is Watsu Massage Therapy The Health Benefits & Risks

What Is Watsu Massage Therapy?

Watsu is a type of massage therapy conducted in individual sessions by a licensed professional. During these sessions, the practitioner incorporates massage techniques, stretching, and meditation in a warm therapy pool with temperatures ranging from 93 to 95 degrees. The warmth of the water helps soften and relax the muscles, allowing for more focused and deeper work.

The buoyancy of the water provides support, enabling the therapist to guide the body into a broader range of motion without posing any risk of harm to the client. Notably, the water allows the spinal vertebrae to move in ways that are not possible on land, making Watsu an ideal form of bodywork for individuals with limited range of motion.

What Is The Watsu Massage Therapy Used For?

Watsu serves as a therapeutic intervention to relieve pain and tension, as well as to improve physical movement and joint mobility. It has shown promise in offering relief for various conditions, including:

  • Muscle tension
  • Low back pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Discomfort during pregnancy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress-related conditions
  • Neurological conditions (such as multiple sclerosis)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Injury rehabilitation

How Does The Watsu Massage Therapy Work?

How Does The Watsu Massage Therapy Work
How Does The Watsu Massage Therapy Work

Watsu therapy takes place in a pool or hot tub with the water heated to approximately 95°F (35°C), closely mirroring your skin temperature.

In Watsu, a therapist delicately maneuvers your body in the water. This form of passive hydrotherapy means you don’t have to actively engage in the movements.

The therapist, also in the water, guides your body through specific motions, which might involve:

  • Gentle twisting
  • Rocking or cradling
  • Stretching
  • Massaging pressure points

The objective is to alleviate tightness in your muscles and fascia tissue. Additionally, it aims to enhance the healthy flow of energy, known as qi. Watsu sessions usually take place in a serene environment to amplify relaxation. Many Watsu therapists incorporate soothing music into the session.

How Long Will The Watsu Massage Therapy Session Last?

The duration of each session is customized based on your specific needs and comfort preferences.

Typically, a standard session can range from 30 to 50 minutes. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unwell during the session, you have the option to stop it at any time. Your safety and comfort are paramount, so it’s essential to communicate any concerns with your therapist. Additionally, the therapist retains the right to terminate the session at any time for their own safety.

What Does A Typical Watsu Massage Therapy Session Involve?

A typical Watsu session is tailored to address your individual condition, incorporating massages, stretches, and movements to alleviate your symptoms. 

During a Watsu session, you may wear floating devices on your arms or legs as you float on your back in the water. The therapist will support the back of your head and knees with their forearms. They will gently rotate your body in large circles and alternate between extending and drawing in their arms, creating a back-and-forth movement in the water.

Additionally, your therapist will extend your arms and legs in gentle, repetitive patterns, incorporating movements like bending, lifting, or twisting various parts of your body. They may also rest your head on their shoulder, guiding you in large circles. Throughout the session, the therapist will massage pressure points on your body.

What Are The Benefits Of Watsu Massage Therapy?

What Are The Benefits Of Watsu Massage Therapy
What Are The Benefits Of Watsu Massage Therapy

For Babies And Children

  • Enhanced development: The soothing, rhythmic movements in Watsu Massage Therapy can activate a baby’s vestibular system, contributing to improved balance and coordination. This, in turn, may result in enhanced motor skills, stronger muscles and bones, and overall body coordination.
  • Improved sleep: Watsu Massage Therapy is renowned for its calming impact on both the body and mind, making it advantageous for assisting young children and babies in regulating their sleep patterns. By alleviating stress and promoting relaxation, Watsu Massage Therapy can enhance the quality of sleep, fostering improved mood and heightened energy levels.
  • Improved flexibility: The stretching and movements involved in Watsu Massage Therapy contribute to enhanced flexibility and increased range of motion in babies and children.
  • Discomfort relief: Watsu Massage Therapy serves as a beneficial aquatic therapy for children, incorporating gentle stretches and massages in warm water. Particularly effective for children with special needs, including those with neurological, musculoskeletal, or immune-system disorders, Watsu Massage Therapy provides therapeutic effects. The buoyancy of the heated water allows these children to relax, loosen their muscles, relieve tension, and find relief from aches and physical stress.

It’s crucial to emphasize that Watsu Massage Therapy therapy should only be administered by a trained and licensed therapist, with the approval of a pediatrician for babies and children.

For Postnatal Recovery

Physical recovery: Watsu Massage Therapy therapy proves to be a valuable tool for postnatal recovery, aiding new mothers in addressing both physical and emotional challenges while fostering overall well-being. It offers benefits such as:

  1. Physical recovery: Watsu Massage Therapy therapy can be particularly beneficial for new moms aiming to recover from childbirth and navigate the physical adjustments that accompany motherhood. It helps alleviate discomfort, soreness, and stiffness while improving mobility and suppleness.
  2. Stress reduction: Watsu Massage Therapy serves as an effective method to counteract the stress and anxiety commonly experienced by new mothers. The warmth of the water combined with gentle movements creates a soothing environment, contributing to stress relief and enhancing overall health and well-being.
  3. Improved sleep: Watsu Massage Therapy proves to be an excellent facilitator of quality rest. Its warm and comforting environment promotes natural relaxation, while the rhythmic movements serve as a gentle massage, easing tense muscles that might otherwise interfere with sleep.
  4. Boosted energy levels: The relaxation benefits of Watsu Massage Therapy are particularly beneficial for new mothers navigating the demands of caring for a newborn. By providing a sense of recharging and invigoration, Watsu Massage Therapy contributes to improved health and wellness, helping new moms achieve a greater sense of balance.

During Pregnancy

Watsu Massage Therapy sessions offer benefits to expecting mothers throughout all stages of pregnancy, providing a sense of relaxation and support while considering the well-being of the growing baby. Here’s how Watsu Massage Therapy can be beneficial during each trimester:

  • Watsu Massage Therapy can help reduce stress and fatigue, encouraging better sleep during the initial stage of significant bodily transformations. 
  • Continuing with Watsu Massage Therapy in the second trimester offers additional benefits as your pregnancy advances. This therapeutic approach combines stretching and massage with the supportive warmth of water, aiding in pain relief, improved circulation, and reduced swelling. 
  • Embracing Watsu Massage Therapy sessions in the third trimester holds numerous advantages for expectant mothers. Beyond easing physical discomfort associated with late-stage pregnancy, the calming effects of this aquatic massage contribute to stress reduction and hormone regulation.

Moreover, Watsu Massage Therapy sessions can enhance circulation and lymphatic drainage, contributing to the body’s readiness for labor. The warmth of the water can also aid in relaxing pelvic muscles and softening connective tissues, offering increased comfort during this crucial stage.

Side Effects Of Watsu Massage Therapy

Watsu comes with certain limitations. Since it is a passive therapy, individuals undergoing treatment must be open to allowing the therapist to move their body.

Close contact with the therapist is a part of the process, and this might be uncomfortable for some individuals.

Moreover, it is advisable to refrain from Watsu if you have:

  • Fever
  • Uncontrolled epilepsy
  • Serious cardiac problems
  • Open wounds
  • Skin infections
  • Serious urinary tract problems
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Respiratory disease
  • Allergy to pool chemicals

Engaging in water therapy under these conditions may exacerbate or complicate existing health issues.

Additional precautions should be taken by your therapist if you have:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal problems
  • Balance issues

For pregnant individuals, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before attempting Watsu. While many pregnant people appreciate the gravity-relieving sensations of floating in water with a baby, seeking confirmation from your healthcare provider ensures that you are a suitable candidate for this type of therapy.


What is the difference between Watsu Massage Therapy and Janzu?

Janzu & Watsu Water Massage: This massage occurs in the therapeutic waters of Tulum’s sacred cenotes and lagoons. Janzu is a rebirthing therapy, where the water symbolizes the amniotic fluid of the womb. Watsu, on the other hand, is a floating massage therapy.

How is Watsu different from traditional massage?

Watsu is done in warm water, allowing for deeper and more concentrated work on muscles. It involves passive hydrotherapy, where the therapist gently moves the body in water, eliminating the need for active movement by the individual.

Can Watsu improve sleep quality?

Yes, Watsu is known for its calming effects on the body and mind, making it an excellent tool for regulating sleep patterns, enhancing sleep quality, and improving overall mood.

This article is for informative reference and to explain the benefits, uses, and what Watsu Massage Therapy is. Note that L Spa does not provide this body therapy, and the information provided is for educational purposes only. To learn more about our available services, please visit the L Spa Da Nang website.

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