A Guide to Getting a Chinese Foot Massage

Relax and Rejuvenate With a Traditional Chinese Foot Massage

China, Taiwan, Taipei, reflexology therapists treating patients
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The Chinese foot massage has been practiced for centuries and is a popular pastime in China. The process consists of a foot bath followed by an intense massage on various pressure points in the feet, ankles, and legs. For many Westerners, a traditional Chinese massage can be painful the first time. 

In China, people get a foot massage for a variety of reasons, ranging from getting pampered, to socializing with friends or treating an injury or sickness.

Read on to see if a Chinese foot massage interests you and where to sign up for one!

Historical Background

The ancient Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neijing (黃帝內經), has been consulted for more than two millennia. It was written by the Yellow Emperor (黃帝, Huángdì). In the text, the emperor recommends massage for healing and health.

Since then, massages have been incorporated into treatment for medical ailments. They are widely performed in hospitals and massage parlors today.

What To Expect During A Chinese Foot Massage

While the quality of a traditional Chinese foot massage may vary, it typically begins with being seated on a footstool while soaking the feet in hot water infused with tea and herbs. While the feet are soaking, the masseur massages and kneads a person’s shoulders, upper back, and neck for five to 15 minutes.

After, the person is transferred to a comfy lounge chair. Next, the feet are removed from the water and dried off with a towel and then propped up on a footstool.

Then, the massage therapist wraps one foot in a towel and then begins to work on the other foot. The massage therapist applies cream or lotion to the foot and then rubs, kneads, pushes, and massages pressure points on the bottom, top, and sides of the foot.

The massage is often painful, particularly for first timers, because it is believed that each part of the foot is connected to a part of the body.

If soreness is felt in a particular part of the foot, the theory is that the corresponding part of the body has a problem.

After both feet are massaged, hot towels are wrapped around the feet. After the massage therapist rubs the swaddled feet, they are dried. Then, the lower legs and thighs are massaged using kneading, stroking, and pounding motions. 

A cup of tea is often served before, during or after the massage. Snacks such as dried plums, nuts, or tomatoes may also be served.

Where Can I Get A Chinese Foot Massage?

Traditional Chinese foot massages are available in cities large and small throughout China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Getting a traditional Chinese foot massage is routine and serves as either a time for rest and relaxation or as a time to catch up with friends and family. Follow these spa etiquette tips for getting a massage in China.

Price

A 30 minute, hour-long, and 90-minute foot massage cost about $5-$15 in the East. In the West, traditional Chinese foot massages can be found in Chinatowns and some spas. Expect to pay $20 or more for an hour-long massage and don't forget to tip.