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Chinese Foot Massage

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Chinese Foot Massage

The reflexology zones of the foot are displayed in the window of a medical store in the Chinatown area of Westminster in London, England.

Oli Scarff / Getty Images
Chinese Culture is full of traditional ways to feel pampered. A smoothing Chinese foot massage is one traditional way to relax.

What Is a Traditional Chinese Foot Massage?

Traditional Chinese foot massage consists of a foot bath followed by an intense massage on various pressure points in the feet, ankles and legs. Chinese foot massage has been practiced for centuries and is a popular pastime in China.

The ancient Chinese book Huangdi Neijing (黃帝內經), an ancient Chinese medical text that has been consulted for more than two millennia, was written by the Yellow Emperor (黃帝, Huángdì). In the text, the emperor recommends massage which has been incorporated into treatment for medical ailments. It is widely performed in hospitals and massage parlors.

What Happens During a Traditional Chinese Foot Massage?

While the quality of a traditional Chinese foot massage may vary, it typically begins with being seated on a foot stool 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 foot stool.

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, it is believed 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 Traditional 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.

Half-hour, hour, and 90-minute foot massages 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.

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