Have you ever tried having a food massage? Whose services would you prefer - those of masseurs from hospitals or of beautiful young masseuses from massage houses?
You might ask: "What's the difference?"
Generally speaking, the two services are the same in most respects. But the former is mainly for medical therapy, the later mainly for relaxation. It is also reported that some small massage houses provide "additional services" to accompany the massage.
With the improvement of people's standards of living, greater demand for foot massages is being expressed by people thinking they could provide relaxation and alleviate the pain caused by some diseases.
Statistics show that Shanghai has over 1,000 foot massage houses alongside such professional names as "Liang Zi" and "Shuya Liangzi", providing various services including manicures, foot dinches, and thenar massages.
Investors from Hong Kong recently opened a five-star entertainment club near the Shanghai Peace Hotel, offering different kinds of foot massage services.
Puruntang, a newly opened service outlet that showcases foot protection according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has also been gaining popularity among customers.
So far, Shanghai hospitals have not stepped forward to meet such demand. "Foot massage could make people feel better after a hard day's work, but time is not ripe for hospitals to promote such service," said Cheng Yingwu, a massage expert from the Shuguang Hospital affiliated with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
"On the one hand, some massage experts' minds are not open enough to provide foot services; on the other, hospitals' systems are still too immature to promote such services. For such reasons, the entertainment sector has grasped the major market share in foot massage."
According to Cheng, medical massage is quite different from casual massage, but patients typically confuse the two and make unreasonable requests of doctors.
Cheng said that one patient asked the doctor to spend an hour massaging his foot, saying that the foot massage house would do so. In fact, it only took 15 minutes to treat the patient's medical problem.
Experts caution that although foot massage benefits people's health, items such as manicures could actually spread diseases if insufficient attention was paid to sanitation.
(Shanghai Star December 15, 2003)