SPA DOCTOR: Sciatica is best sorted by a gentle Balinese massage
Magical: A blissful bath amid the rainforest at Hoshinoya spa
Sciatica is a pain in the backside at the best of times.
The condition, which accounts for about five per cent of all cases of back pain, occurs when the nerve that runs from the lower spine, through the back of the pelvis and branches into the legs becomes irritated.
It is often caused by a slipped spinal disc, in which case it can be excruciating, causing shooting or stabbing pains in the legs.
But the nerve can simply become irritated, leading to a low-level numbness and a weird feeling of weakness in the buttocks and thighs.
I get it after long-haul travel. So I took a heck of a lot of persuading when my partner suggested a holiday in Bali – with 16-plus hours of flying in order to get there. Balinese massage, with its long, flowing strokes and gentle stretching moves, is a well-known fix for nerve-pain conditions.
Hoshinoya Bali resort village is a 15-minute drive from touristy Ubud, perched dramatically on the edge of a steep valley, overlooking lush rainforest. It’s an all-villa hotel, and each ‘hut’ sits on the edge of pools that run, like canals, through the site. The standout experience is breakfast in the couch-lined ‘birdcages’ that jut out over the hillside, giving the feeling that you’re hanging amid the treetops.
The spa is accessed via a lift that descends through the rainforest to a secluded villa.
You can hear the lulling sound of the river rushing through the valley below. I choose the Spice Body Revitalising treatment (120mins, £110), which involves a Balinese oil massage, body scrub, wrap and then a herbal bath.
Balinese massage is far gentler than other Asian styles, such as Thai, Japanese Shiatsu and Chinese Tui Na, all of which either involve deep back-bending stretches or wince-inducing pressure. You’re still pulled and pushed but, on the whole, when feeling fragile it seems like a more safe bet.
The flight had left my back in tatters and the area above my left buttock totally numb, but afterwards I felt loose and, thanks to some moves where my legs were gently manipulated, my numb areas regained consciousness. The bath, at the end, overlooking the rainforest while sipping tea, was a magical finishing touch.
- Villas start at £470 based on two staying for one night. Malaysia Airlines flies twice daily from Heathrow to Bali, from £729. More details at hoshinoya.com and malaysiaairlines.com.