Monday, June 29, 2015

A Newbie's Guide to an Asian Foot Massage!

I recently went for an Asian Foot Massage with one of my BFs.  It is quite a different experience than a massage that you might get at a hotel spa.  I thought I would share my experience with you for those who have never been!  For the first timer, you may be surprised to find out that for the basic foot massage, you are actually placed in a communal room and for this reason you remain fully clothed.  At this particular location, there were four different massage beds in one room.  Everyone starts at different times, and it is very casual, your personal belongings usually sit on the floor or in a basket and your shoes right by your bed. Although it is called a "foot massage", the staff actually works on your entire body.  I have learned to wear clothing that is light and manageable to make the most of your massage. I came in on flip flops wearing a tank top and some yoga pants. There are no forms to fill out before you begin, and language may be a barrier, but just communicate with the masseuse if you have an area that you want massaged or avoided due to injury or whatever the case may be. Hand gestures were used often along with facial cues. They do have soothing music playing, however the walls are thin and you can hear conversation from the people sitting in the waiting room and between the masseuses themselves. Just be forewarned, this isn't your typical library-quiet experience. If you are looking for a more tranquil surrounding then I would suggest you request a private room massage, which of course costs more.

We started on our backs on the beds, with our feet submerged in warm water in a wooden tub.  The therapist then started working on my face/head.  I had my hair in a pony tail but she asked to remove it. If you have long hair, you may want to brush it real quick before you start a massage, otherwise she could get her fingers tangled up. The reason why is because she began to scratch my scalp vigorously, all over! She would even turn my head from side to side to work on my scalp.  She then pressed on my temple, sides of my eyes, sides of my nose, ears,  and earlobes. She had her fingers in my ears just like Q-Tips.  Really interesting to say the least. This part lasted from five to ten minutes. 
She then massaged each arm/hand, twisting and turning my wrists, individually pulling on each finger and rubbing up and down on each arm. This was probably another 10 minutes.  Nothing that spectaular, kind of like the massages when you get a manicure. Then it was time for the feet. The massage lasts for an hour, but she spent considerable time on my feet. I would say a good 15-20  minutes! This was the best part of the whole experience! Even though our environment wasn't entirely serene, there's something about having your feet rubbed that puts me in a different state of relaxation! I think I even dozed off for a bit! I could feel the pressure points on the ball of my feet throughout my body.  I have sensitive ankles too, so having her work on them felt really good! There's this interesting sign posted outside that explains the different parts of your feet and what areas are affected during the massage.    Another surprise factor in store is that they actually use hot stones the last couple of minutes to work on your legs up till your knees.  I didn't like the feel of them the last time I had that done, it actually was painful for my skin to be touched with the hot stones and so I waved them off as politely as I could when I saw that she brought them out.  She understood and just worked on my feet and legs some more without the stones. Just so you know, the masseuses often cup their hands into fists and pound your skin. It seemed to always "end" the massage on that particular part of your body.  You'll hear different people being tapped on, and if the strength is too much, again just let your masseuse know. She didn't tap on my head or face though! 

Then it was time to turn over. My masseuse put a paper towel down on the face hole to protect you from having direct contact with the table material and she put a towel over my back.  Again, she scrubbed my scalp vigorously with her fingers and then worked on my neck, shoulder, lower back (yes, including the buttocks)  and each arm. She had contact with my skin on my arms, but the shoulder work was done through the towel. With each arm, she bent my elbow and placed my hand behind my back, like being prepared to be handcuffed, and then she used her elbow to smooth out the knots on each shoulder.  It was painful, but good pain if you know what I mean.  However, my wrists can be stiff due to arthritis, so again, I had to somehow communicate to her to be a bit gentle when "arresting" me, LOL.  Not only did she elbow rub me, but ended this body part with a good fist pound.  Tap, tap tap, tap like a drum roll!  By this time, no more risk of falling asleep, I was fully awake!  
Here came the most interesting part.
The masseuse actually got up on top of me on her hands and feet.  She placed her hands on my shoulders and her knees were pretty much on my lower back/buttocks.  I had to suppress the giggles because I began to have images of the two of us being in come kind of Cirque de Soleil show!  She used her hands and knees to "stretch" out my back in various ways. I imagined she looked like Suzanne Somers on her ab roll exerciser.  They she moved her knees from a closed to open position starting from the center of my back out to my sides, gliding upwards with every next move from my lower back to my upper back. It was that "good" pain again, but I found myself clenching my core every time her knees worked their thigh master move. The whole while I was thinking, "Man, this lady is getting a workout! This has to be pilates extreme for her!" Last but not least, she pressed my calves with her toes and held a plank position on top of me to stretch out my entire body, including my legs this time. My masseuse couldn't have weighed more than 115 pounds, but my friend had a male masseuse. I forgot to ask her how that felt with him on her back. All in all, this was probably 20 minutes worth of time laying face forward. Then with a good Tap Tap Tap up and down the whole body, we were done! They give you a small cup of water and let you relax for a bit before exiting!  I felt invigorated and refreshed!  For $25 plus tip, I think this is a good value!  I've only tried this location here in Chula Vista.  I have yet to go to the Convoy district, where these places seem to be abundant.  I hope I've given you an idea of what a "foot massage" entails!  If you have any recommendations of where to go in San Diego and on your own foot massage experience please leave a comment below! 

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