Looking for a Good Massage

Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

“Dear PoPville,

I work with babies, and I think carrying and lifting big babies and strollers and other things have taken a toll on my neck and shoulders over the past 6 months in particular. I occasionally get pinched nerves from over-tight muscles that reach all the way up to my head — the result is extremely painful migraines that last for days. I would love it if your readers could recommend some places in DC that are metro-accessible and not terribly expensive. I’m looking for professional massage therapists who really understand the relationship between musculature and nerves. I’m also open to trying a talented therapist who practices Chinese medicine and/or Eastern treatments.

The pain from these muscle-related migraines is almost unbearable these days. Thank you in advance.”

65 Comment

  • northeazy

    Hit up Potomac Massage Training Institute at Silver Spring metro. You can get an excellent student massage for $35/hr. You can also get non-students/professional level for a little more.

  • Petworth Massage (http://www.petworthmassage.com/) and City Acupuncture Circle (http://cityacupuncturecircle.com/)

    Both are perfect for someone seeking a calm atmosphere, skilled practitioner, and affordable rates – as Margaret of Petworth Massage operates in the ‘gift economy’ and City Acupuncture operates with a sliding scale.

    Highly recommend both!!

    • Thank you very much (I’m the one with the god-awful head pain from pinched nerves). I appreciate this and will definitely add this to my list.

    • I totally agree with the endorsement of Petworth Massage. Margaret is amazing. Great atmosphere in a rowhouse in Petworth and super-easy scheduling.

    • +1 for City Acupuncture. HIGHLY recommend. JoseLo is fantastic, as are those who are training under him. Acupuncture, cupping, scraping, whatever YOUR body/mind requires, he can provide.

  • I strongly recommend Sheena Morris and Layne Curry at Aura Spa at the Vida gym on U Street. I believe Sheena also works some days at the Navy Yards location and the DuPont Circle location. I have similar issues as it seems you are having and they both have been absolute lifesavers for me. I searched for a long time when moving to DC for great massage therapists and am so delighted to have found these two.

    • Well, this is GREAT! (I’m the person Dan posted for about the migraines/pinched nerves). I happen to be a member of Vida and I have the global membership so I can go to any of the locations. Not that it matters — I think anyone can use the massage services, but I might get a discount.

      • Hi there!
        This is Layne from Aura Spa U Street. As a Vida member, you will receive 15% off your massage service during the weekdays. Sheena works Friday and I work Thursday and Friday. We would love to see you here and see how to alleviate your discomfort. I’m also a yoga instructor for the Vida group- I believe it’s very important that massage be linked to the unique nervous system response of each individual. You can call 202-232-6620 or book online at auraspa.net. Good luck!

  • Janelle at Spa on the Hill. She is UNREAL. I went to her when I was pregnant and I never wanted to leave. alternatively, a good option for JUST the back is an offering at Bliss spa at the W that focuses on the back. It’s also amazing.

  • Melissa at My Massage Place – http://www.mymassageplacedc.com/ The office is off the Tenleytown Metro; she’s great at working on longer-term solutions to health problems and is incredibly knowledgeable!

  • wat massage at 18th and Florida is great!

  • Hands down, go to Freed Bodyworks off of the Potomac Ave metro. So great, and they are really interested in what you do, how you move, what’s going on with your muscles. Just fantastic. Check out yelp– they’re beloved.

    • I’ve been meaning to try them, too – I have to get a massage and can’t decide between them and Spa on The Hill, but Freed’s mission is so great

    • I love Freed. Aries is awesome. She gets to the muscles underneath. Her massages are practically a medical procedure! Aviva is also good, though not quite as intense as Aries.

    • Thank you, I definitely will look them up. I love the passion the readers on PoPVille have for services in DC. I knew I would get help here. I’m reading all these great recommendations and now the only problem is choosing one. 🙂

  • I really like Mary at Spa Room Massage. She really focuses on the fascia in between muscles & I always feel better after visiting with her. Good luck–hope you can find relief soon!

  • While not in the requested DC spot (but metro accessible), I’ve gone to Teal Center in Arlington for years. I also get migraines from a multitude of things and going regularly has made a notable difference.

  • Oh man, do I feel your pain. I was in your shoes a year ago. Eye Street Massage Therapy is really good, and right next to the Farragut West Metro station. Ako is particularly good. Physical therapist Matt Morici at Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates was able to figure out what was going on, and gave me exercises that I can do to calm everything down. A few sessions with him would be well worth it. After he helped me get things under control, I started working out with a personal trainer and that has made all the difference. Good luck – being stuck in that pain spiral is awful.

    • And seconding the Bliss Spa – the Rubber Neck treatment is amazing.

      • yes – that’s the treatment!!! The scalp massage is heaven

        • I’m willing to make a separate appointment just for a scalp massage. I LOVE anything done to my head/hair. Thanks for the tip.

          • Thanks for the recommendation, anongardener! Glad you liked our work. Yes, Ako is amazing!! She just worked on me last week! There are over 10 of us licensed massage therapists with lots of experience with more of a therapeutic approach so we can target specific problem areas such as the neck, upper traps, back, arms and issues such as pinched nerves. We earned Angie’s List 2013 and 2014 Super Service Award. Feel free to check out our website, KPS, at eyestreet-massage.com where you can read our bios and the types of massages we offer under ‘Services.’ If you book an hour or more, we’d like to offer you $10 off your first session. Just refer to this thread on Popville. And yes, we also do scalp massage!! Fyi, if you know any moms-to-be, we also offer prenatal massage by certified massage therapists. Two more tips, find out if your health insurance will cover massage, and if not, perhaps you have a flex spending or health saving account that will reimburse you or you can pay with pre-tax dollars. We can supply a receipt with the correct codes. Feel free to call our office if you have questions, 202-463-0987. Take care!

          • Thanks for this info, Eye Street Massage!

    • Thank you, thank you.

  • Malee Thai Massage (multiple locations) is awesome. It’s a really Thai massage where you get dressed up in the outfit and they walk on you, stretch you, etc.

    • I love Thai massage and was looking for a good place in DC last year, then sort of gave up. THANK YOU.

  • 100% recommend Freed Bodyworks! Located right by the Potomac Ave metro, they have incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated massage therapists. Their philosophy is “radical inclusion” – everyone and every body should be able to access massage and other bodywork, regardless of size, gender, race, etc. The prices aren’t cheap, but they seem to be in line with other DC options. They have a 5 star rating on yelp with 50 reviews, so I’m not the only one who adores them!

  • I like the Still Point in Takoma Park (although they are about to move to even farther away from the TP metro), but their massage therapists (and all spa technicians!) are truly amazing at listening to you and figuring out what works. For injuries, I go to Courtney for massage therapy. http://thestillpointspa.com/

  • Adaora at Lunar Massage in Adams Morgan did wonders for my neck. The studio bills itself as a no-frills, budget-conscious place. It’s not student-massage cheap, but it’s a lot less than a spa massage.

  • @MK 2:34, stop using my name. I had this long before you. Choose another handle.

  • I don’t have a DC specific recommendation but I’ve recently joined Massage Envy in College Park. $65 a month membership and you get a 1 hour massage per month (or a 2 hour every 2 months since unused hours roll over). Going once a month has really helped my pain/flexibility. So I guess my recommendation is to go regularly if it’s in your budget.

  • Thank you to everyone who posted your recommendations! And thank you to Dan for posting my note for me. I’m the one with the neck/head issues. I am very excited to reach out to some of these services and see what will suit me (and my bank account) the best. Again, thank you very, very, VERY much. I am reading all of them and keeping all the recommendations on a list. Also, the parents I work for often experience neck, shoulder, and back issues — especially the new moms who aren’t used to all the carrying and tugging and twisting their poor bodies into positions they never thought possible just to accommodate a sleeping infant who won’t go in its crib! I will hold on to this list and share the info.

  • Are massages and eastern/chinese therapies scientifically shown to be effective in reducing the severity, longevity, or incidence of migraines/back/neck pain or other symptoms you are experiencing?

    Perhaps you should see an MD?

    • Yes, they are. My MD has recommended both when she diagnosed the problem as tight muscles and a pinched nerve.

    • ANON X: I knew someone was going to ask why I didn’t just see a doctor. My answer is: Why do I need to see a doctor? Doctors do not have the answer for everything. A trained professional who has studied, done clinicals, and has experience with what I need is better than a doctor. It is VERY hard to go to the doctor these days. The ACA law introduced literally millions of new patients into an already exhausted healthcare system — and the number of doctors did not increase to meet the new demand of sick new-insured. It takes a long time to get an appointment in the first place. I went to the doctor 6 weeks ago and it was so hard to communicate with her. This was 9:00 in the morning and you would have thought it was the end of a long day for her. So you get a doctor that doesn’t have the time or energy to connect with you, then you pay $40 co-pay and get a bill in the mail for your deductible. For an office visit. I’m not going through that for my neck. I need a massage therapist, not an MD. I hope that this perspective will help people gain a greater respect and appreciation for OTHER kinds of healthcare professionals. To answer your question about “does it work”…YES. I have had massage of all types over the years. For this new problem I wanted recommendations for targeting my current and particular issue.

  • I’d recommend seeing PT. massage therapists are not trained to diagnose or treat any underlying problem.

  • For an affordable massage, try Logan14. During the week they have “express services” from 10-3 (?). It’s $30 for a 30 minute massage, and you can add 15 minutes for $10. If it fits into your schedule, it’s a steal.

  • I really like Revive Massage, which is in Dupont. I’ve seen Ivo and Peter. Prices aren’t too bad, for DC, and you can book online.

  • I had a nerve/disc issue last year @ my neck and shoulder blades…. and a few sleepy time tingles down the arm. It took a while but I did a combination of
    1. Physical Therapy which included dry needling [the best for finding the trigger points]
    2. Acupuncture with Peter Liebenthal http://www.peterliebenthal.net/about/
    3. Massage at the 4 Seasons with Kim Jaka. I know the 4 seasons isn’t cheap, but Kim really gets those “rice krispy” knots out.
    4. and Certain gym exercises that strenthened the upper back.

    I can’t say if one worked better than the other – but no more nerve tingles etc.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you! I do realize I need to do more on my end, too. I have got a new foam roller. I love it! I haven’t had severe pain in a couple weeks, but I live in fear of it returning — it always does, eventually. I also am starting more yoga (getting a new yoga mat this weekend), and I have got a couple of nice bands for stretching. So yes, you’re right. We have to take care of ourselves and not wait until we’re so tightened up that we have to spend hundreds on massage therapy. The problem is new for me — about 6 months. The last severe, almost debilitating pain was around 2 weeks ago and lasted for 8 days. I can’t go through that again.

  • I’m a big fan of Sioux Barry of Healing District over on 13th and T NW. I saw her first for prenatal massage and now I try to go to her regularly as she’s the only massage therapist in the area that can work out the knots in my shoulder & neck while leaving me at the end of a session feeling totally relaxed. I fall asleep! That never happens to me when I get a massage. And my shoulders don’t hurt anymore after I see her.

    Here’s her website: http://www.healingdistrict.com/main.html And she’s a block away from the U Street metro stop.

  • I have a chronic pain condition and have suffered from pinched nerves several times before — I have had massages where the practitioner actually makes things worse, so I totally get needing someone who really understands how this stuff works. I adore Jeff Kuykendal at Pekoe DC. He’s not cheap ($100/hour) but totally worth it. On some insurance plans they will now reimburse for some massages or with a doctor’s note you can use your HSA or FSA.

    I also have been going to Little Bird Community Acupuncture in Adam’s Morgan for years. They’re great and VERY affordable.

  • You should check out Meridian Health and Relaxation, which is in Glover Park on Wisconsin Avenue, about a 5-6 block walk from the Gtown Apple Store. It’s no frills chinese accupressure at bargain basement prices – you get half hour for $25, 45 mins for $40 etc. Fully clothed massage – there are 5 massage tables in one big room, and every time i have gone there, its excellent. It’s like a chinese version of deep tissue – not necessarily pleasant while you get it, but you feel amazing afterwards. I have been there a number of times when i had diff aches and muscle strains/pulls.

  • I also recommend Aadora at Lunarasdage (Adams Morgan location). She is fantastic, a life-saver for me with debilitating lower back pain.

  • Alison Alleva at Georgetown Massage is very good…knowledgable and talented massage therapist. She is super professional, easy to be around and a nice person.

  • We like Tusuva in Adams Morgan.

  • I recieve acupuncture at Chinese Acupuncture and Herb Center on Vermont St – I’ve liked them so far. They use many different Chinese treatments. http://www.chineseacupunctureherbcenter.net

    I also second Sioux Barry at Healing District.

  • I highly, highly recommend Lauren Piro of http://www.laurenpiromassage.com. She’s in Columbia Heights so easily metro accessible and while not super cheap, she really knows her way around the body and will have you feeling better in no time; well worth the expense.

  • Steven from With Love Massage in AdMo (2122 18th St NW, b/t N Wyoming Ave & N California St) is very good, as are most of the therapists there. You have to specify how much pressure you want, so he knows what you are comfortable with. He has a great understanding of accupressure points and how they affect your organs, digestion, inner workingsk etc. i go to him for knots in my back and general stress relief. He was the best therapist at Meridien Health in Georgetown and decided to start his own place. He is awesome! Just be prepared for the no frills experience, but it also comes with no frills pricing–i.e. a very good price!

  • Lunar massage has several locations, is very clean, and no frills but has excellent massage therapists. I especially recommend the Adams Morgan location on Columbia Rd.

  • bbhart113

    Julian Turner: http://juliansmassage.abmp.com/

    He has changed my life…I have had every single procedure (besides surgery) under the sun for 2 herniated discs in my neck that never healed. If you want a non-spa, but medicinal and incredible massage/manipulation then do go see him. He is very in tune with people’s problems and bodies. And he is fairly priced and could actually charge more since he actually helps people dramatically.

  • Does anyone know of a good in-home massage?

  • Freed Bodyworks has an amazing group of massage therapists, and I’m not just saying that because I work there. 🙂 In my 11 years as an LMT, I have not worked with as talented and inspirational a group of MT’s as I have at Freed. Check out their Yelp reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/freed-bodyworks-washington

    If you’re interested in staying in NW, I’m located in Mt. Pleasant. Check out my Yelp reviews – I have hours available throughout the week and on weekends:

  • Comfy Feet at Dupont Circle does excellent, authentic Chinese foot and full body massage. It’s reasonably priced with their discounted membership prices ( like Massage Envy’s) but has a NO FRILLS atmosphere. If you don’t mind, it’s one of the best Asian massages you’ll find in the area. They also do not charge extra for couples to be in the same room.

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