What is the first thing you think of when someone suggests getting a massage? For those who haven’t tried a genuine massage, it probably sounds dirty, but don’t let the negative press fool you. Massage is genuinely useful and even plays a substantial role in Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques. After a long week of work on my computer or dealing with university stress, I find that a professional body massage really helps. If you play sports regularly or receive an injury, a mix of acupuncture and light massage can bring your muscles back to their healthy state much faster[*]. People with poor circulation can get blood moving again with regular medicinal massage too. My mother often reminds me of the benefit her legs received in 2008, the last time she was in China.
Choices: While in China, you can pay between $10-15 per hour for a quality, full-body massage. Aroma therapy oil is a nice option and it’s great for your skin. (Don’t shower it off immediately… the oil should stay on your body for the rest of the day or through the night.) An inexpensive leg and foot massage costs about $4 per hour (2011). Fire cupping is a great 20 minute procedure and only costs $5. And the choices don’t end here, but these are the ones I usually get.
In the US, I’ve seen masseuses advertise services for $30-40 per half hour. It can cost more in bigger cities… Maybe this is one reason we misunderstand it, because most people choose not to spend money on it… or just equate it with prostitution. My first visit to Thailand made that assumption brutally clear for me after seeing the line-ups outside massage parlors in touristy beach towns there. But with all of these reasons to avoid massage, is there a time when it might be appropriate to get a massage in the US?
Sometimes it’s OK: Friends of mine who have had sports injuries were later told by doctors to get physical therapy. Massage seems to be acceptable at this point because it has scientifically-proven benefits; although, paying a physical therapist $75+ per hour seems pretty outrageous to me. Depending on the price you are quoted at the hospital, you may want to consider flying out to an Asian country for 1-2 week resort stay. You could even get your physical therapy treatment next to the pool sipping a Margarita. Now that’s a treatment plan worth the money!
If you have experience cutting the cost of physical therapy by travelling to the Far East, please share your story with us. Thanks!