Monday, December 7, 2009

Manic about Chinese Massage

One of the wonderful things about China is that massages are cheap.  Not as cheap as my $4 Vietnamese massage with the little extra full frontal action, but there are legitimate spas where massages are inexpensive and there's no funny businesses or groping. 

Nick and I have been indulging ourselves about once a week in a traditional Chinese massage, which is much different than the type that you typically get in the States.  You are first escorted back to change into some pseudo-silk pajamas and then taken back into the room.  Some rooms have multiple tables in them, so you might be joined by a person or two.  They then put a sheet over you (over your pajamas) and rub you down - it's a cross between a massage, a chiropractic adjustment and craniosacral therapy (Craniosacral therapy involves working the spine and the skull and its cranial sutures. Restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord is said to be optimized, and misaligned bones are said to be restored to their proper position).

Anyway, I think I know what John Mellencamp meant when he sang, "hurts so good." Parts of the massage are a little more painful than others, but I know it's getting all the kinks out of my knotty muscles, and I feel amazing afterward.

Something I've been eager to try, which is part of traditional Chinese medicine is called cupping.  Glass or plastic cups are used to create localized pressure by using suction to create the vacuum. The vacuum inside the cups causes the blood to form in the area and help the healing in that area.

Cupping is used for a variety of reasons, but mainly, it is said to draw toxins out of the body.  It triggers the lymphatic system, clears the blood vessels, and stretches and activates the skin.  It can help with intestinal issues, headaches, back pain, arthritis, fatigue, skin problems, and other conditions.  It's supposed to be great for stress and a lot of athletes use it.

The suction is so strong that your skin is sucked up into the cup and forms a "dome," and it makes an odd sucking sound of your skin being pulled up into the cup.  It looks a little scary and it pinches quite a bit. Luckily, I think ours were only left on for about 10 minutes. We each had about ten up and down our backs and on our shoulders.  Not for the weak-stomached.  Nick said he felt a stegasaurous.  He looked like one, too.

Not a photo of Nick.

From what I've read, the more purple your marks, the more toxins you have to get out.  I have a bunch of very red and purple, so I'm not sure what I've got in my system, but at least it's getting out of me.  Nick's back was better than mine. 

We both look like we've been seriously abused.  Here's Nick's result.
So, just a trial in Chinese medicine - I'll definitely write if I feel any better as a result of this wacky, but widely used and ancient practice.  I mean really, can 2,500 years of Chinese be wrong?
Flying back to Indy tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. That looks horrifying! You're both very brave and adventurous!