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Oxygen, Massages Help Ease Stress

At Springfield Mall, back rubs are now being combined with 92-percent-pure oxygen to combat stress, work out the sore muscles and make breathing a little easier on the lungs.

The action is taking place at the mall's Rest Stop on the second floor by Macy's. Licensed masseuse Juanita Young mans the helm in a room decked out like Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," but with soothing music instead of giant squids. Rest Stop started offering the oxygen as part of its services around Christmas. BackRubs USA is behind the oxygen idea they deem as the "Genesis Oxygen Bar."

"It's working pretty good. A lot of people like it," she said.

A machine pumps out the oxygen through a tube into both nostrils. Different scents and music are available to accompany the experience. Music titles include "Ocean Breezes," "Woodland Mists," "Desert Oasis" and "Rainforest Renewal." The oxygen may make some feel lightheaded or dizzy, so there is a disclaimer.

"Such feelings are perfectly normal," it stated.

Julie Yeager was in for a massage with no oxygen. Yeager a Dumfries resident, who lived in Springfield before, as well as California in the past.

"When I was out in California, that was the big thing," she said of the oxygen machine. Someone even tried to talk her into putting an oxygen mix into her bath water.

"They have everything out there," she said.

New Jersey resident Brenda Ferdenzi read the menu of massages before signing up.

"It relieves stress, everyday tension. I think it's a great idea. They should have one in the mall by me," she said.

One such bar is 2202 Oxygen Bar in San Francisco. All ages are allowed in the 2202, which claims on its Web site to improve customers’ outlooks.

"Whether you're up for heavy saturation or just a light touch-up, we'll serve your mind and body," the Web site stated.

On the oxygen handouts at the mall, Rest Stop claims the benefits of oxygen include enhancement of brain function for clearer thinking, an increase of muscle energy and performance, healthier skin, enhanced metabolism and waste removal, bacteria-fighting benefits and better absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

"There's nothing overpowering or overbearing like in the hospital," Young said. "You can't do this and smoke a cigarette. It defeats the purpose."

According to the Rest Stop's information packet, "Environmental oxygen levels have dropped to around 21 percent in the less polluted mountain regions and to just 13-17 percent in Washington, D.C., and other heavily polluted cities." The shop's machine removes nitrogen, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other harmful trace gases from ambient air, creating inhalable oxygen that is 92-percent pure. It is scented, as well.