I wanted to do a massage in Chengdu because my shoulders feels really tense. The Herijun Spa I visited also provided massages, but I don’t think they are very good, so I wanted to try somewhere else. To find a massage parlor is not very difficult, in almost every corner there is one. The question is, are they good? Different websites, like the travelguide China Highlights and the blog Flights and Frustration can give you more insight in how to find a suitable massage. Or you can ask locals, your hostel or other tourists for recommendations.
The practice of traditional Chinese massages has a long history which can be dated back to the Shang dynasty (16th-11th centuries BC). It is a form of traditional Chinese medicine and it was used to cure pains, disorders and diseases. Nowadays the methods and techniques of practising traditional Chinese massages have evolved and increased, but they still serve the same medical goal.
One type of Chinese massage is called the blind massage 盲人按摩. Blind massages 盲人按摩 are very popular (especially amongst woman), because being blind (盲人 mángrén means ‘blind man’) forces the masseur to rely more on touch which allows them to be more sensitive and makes them better in finding the knots inside your body that causes you pain or discomfort and loosens it. I heard that not all the blind massages are given by people who are blind, but I found one that does. Many websites recommended me a blind massage parlor called Blind Master Zhang’s Physical Therapy and Massage 张师盲人理疗按摩. There is also a movie about blind masseurs called Blind Massage 推拿 (2014). It is directed by the Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye and the movie won six awards during the 51st Golden Horse Awards.
Releasing the tension
From outside the parlor I could see three beds and one woman who was getting a massage. The massage 推拿 cost 45 yuan for an hour and you only have to take of your shoes. Before I started the massage, they asked me where I felt pain, so they can focus on it more. I told them about the tension in my shoulders and as they asked me to lie down on my back the masseur massaged my head, neck, shoulders, arm and legs. He could feel the tightness in my shoulders and my neck and he loosened it by quickly pulling it very shortly, which made a cracking sound. The sound was very scary, but luckily it was only for a short moment. Later on I laid down on my belly and he massaged my back, shoulders and legs. He noticed that my whole left side of the body is more tensed than my right side. When I meditate and sit in a lotus position I have already noticed it, because my left arms sometimes hurt, but I didn’t know my whole left side is more tensed.
Lots of foreign visitors
During the whole massage I had a nice conversation with the woman who also had a massage and with the masseurs (there are two blind men working there), where I asked about the life in Chengdu and China, about the differences in other cultures and where to focus on to release the tension in my body. I also asked them if they get a lot of foreigners and they said they did! That’s because they are mentioned on a lot of (English) websites about travelling to China and Chengdu. When I finished the massage, I was greeted by the masseur’s his wife who was not blind. She told me about how she kept contact with foreign customers through WeChat. They asked me if I wanted to massage for another hour, but I decided to let my body rest first and comeback the next day for another massage.
Chinese cupping and back scraping
During my visit, I noticed they also offered a lot of other services for better health and curing diseases or sicknesses, like headache, losing weight, frozen shoulder, backache or dizziness. They also offer traditional Chinese medical treatment (TCM) like moxibustion 艾灸, guasha (scraping sha-bruises) 刮痧 and Chinese cupping 拔罐. In the Dutch documentary ‘Langs de oevers van Yangtze’ the host also tried out the Chinese cupping method. In China I keep seeing people who have cupping marks on their back, which stays for 2 or 3 days. To be honest, I find all these methods quite scary and I actually don’t want to try it. But since the service here is very good and I don’t know when I will come back to Chengdu or have the chance to visit other good massage parlor, I decided to do the guasha. They used a polished stone to scrap my back and it didn’t feel painful at all, I did have red marks on my back (not so bad as the one you see in the link above). My back and shoulders felt better after the massage and guasha, but I think if I would do this regularly it would be very beneficial for my health.
If you go to China, I recommend you to try out a body or a foot massage, they are really good to help you improve the blood circulation in your body and release some tension. If you are in Chengdu I highly recommend you to go to this massage parlor. They are very friendly and they know how to find the tight knots in your body which you didn’t know you had.
Blind Master Zhang’s Physical Therapy and Massage 张师盲人理疗按摩
Address: Baiyun Street, Yulin district 玉林区白云街
Phonenumber: 15308064115 / 18508288039
WeChat: Wc1659702626 (this is the WeChat of the masseur’s wife. She welcomes you to add her and ask her questions about the massage)