In late 2014, I started to have these crazy migraine episodes. My fingertips would numb, my lips would numb, and I would be bedridden for about 6 to 8 hours as I slept off this migraine that would cloud my vision and make me dizzy and sick. I investigated the possibility of anemia, pollution, too quick of weight loss, and dehydration. But still, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I had a history of migraines due to sinus and eyesight issues before, but they were never this terrible and frequent.
Lesson learned here is that I should have just gone to a doctor straight away, but I thought it was just a phase. Sometimes the migraines would disappear for months only to resurface again for a while. Then this past year, these terrible migraines started to haunt me again and disturbed my workflow.
Long story short, a massage therapist friend happened to hear about my migraines and the symptoms. “That sounds like pinched spinal nerve in your neck.”
That assessment was spot on. I began to start to notice how tight I was in my neck, shoulders, and back. When I would go to get massages, everyone would tell me my muscles were really tight and my back was really tired. Skeptical, I mentioned to my friend, “But what if my back just has more muscles than most?” She laughed. “I can attest to how tight your back is. You’ve got big knots.”
I couldn’t be more thankful to be in China with this problem. My father had a traumatic car accident when I was in Grade 3. He had a slipped and pinched disc due to the accident and has been on back pain medicine for years. Through all the surgeries, shots, and treatments Western medicine has to offer, he still doesn’t have relief. But alternative medical options in the US are hard to afford or to find.
So, this new knowledge of my neck issues led me on a quest (given by my massage therapist friend) to find proper neck exercises and to loosen up those tense back muscles.
Finding the neck exercises was easy! Did you know there are a handful of virtual chiropractors that make YouTube videos to help get back healthcare to the masses? These exercises helped so much.
The harder part has been finding affordable, clean, and nice massage parlors. Thus far, the most luxurious massages I’ve had have been at Nuo Hotel and China World Hotel. I would definitely recommend these both as treats, but for regular therapy reasons, obviously the price isn’t sustainable (follow the links to hear about my staycations and review).
Lucky for you, I don’t mind having this problem and reviewing every massage parlor I can find in the city until I find one that’s perfect for me. I’ll expose the duds and help you find gems in the city, great for your own needs or for visitors who stay for a season.
Dirty Ashtray Parlor (Yizhuang, Daxing)
The first is found in a Maili Mei supermarket area in Yizhuang. It’s popular because of its location and convenience near to many favorite eateries, but beware, you should steer clear if you ever find yourself in the area. The parlor is in a basement level and prices are reasonable in comparison to its competitors (RMB 200 per hour per person range). But the smell of cigarettes is not only in the air, it’s also in the furniture and clinging to the tacky wallpaper. The place is dirty, and I wouldn’t even be so cruel as to suggest this parlor as a prank. It’s too bad because the massage isn’t too bad once your headache clears. Chinese practices are mixed into the massage, with cupping being practiced on the soles of your feet at the end of the full body massage.
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars. Don’t go. I paid for this massage, but I won’t be paying again.
Lower-Mid Range Rustic Spa (Yizhuang, Daxing)
The other is found next to a popular Yizhuang coffee shop, Oly Café. As far as lower-middle range spas go, this one isn’t bad. The ambiance of this spa is nice once you enter into the actual rooms, though the lobby is tacky. The price is good at RMB 180 for 45 minutes for a back massage with two essential oils.
For the most part I enjoyed this massage because the woman had some strong hands and really worked on my back. She pointed out to me that my back was tight and that I needed to relax more. She was genuinely very concerned about me, which was sweet considering most other ladies don’t really talk about the state of your back. Another friend went with me and she also really enjoyed her experience, though she doesn’t have the same issues I do.
Unfortunately, during the course of the massage, I smelled a strange sewer smell wafting from the bathroom, like the plumbing needed to be fixed. It wasn’t a strong smell, but I think those with sensitive noses might find it unpleasant.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars. Though it’s no Nuo, the price and the aggressive pressure makes this a great spa for me. The location would make it hard for anyone coming from the city, though.
Everyday, 10am-10pm. Yizhuang Development Zone Central mansion Deshang. 亦庄开发区中央公馆底商. (67897040)
Clean, Crisp Chinese Medicine Spa in Ocean Garden (Sanyuanqiao)
I was invited to come review this spa (百会能量养生SPA会所), and why on earth would I pass up the chance to do this considering my issues?
Unfortunately, this was my first real experience with Chinese Medicine massages, and I didn’t enjoy the harder scrapping aspect of this massage. I asked the woman several times to stop applying so much pressure, and I had to make a bit of a fuss to get her to stop. This was a small painful part of the massage, but the other aspects before the scrapping, (the regular massage, cupping, light exfoliation, and heat pressure), were all enjoyable. They gave me this massage because I told them about my back and neck issues, and to the massage therapists defense, she did give my neck plenty of attention.
I wouldn’t knock this spa just on my experience, though. Another friend who came with me had a typical massage and almost fell asleep.When we were finished, she stretched and said, “Ah! Such a great way to end the work day.” Therefore, if Chinese medicine is or isn’t your thing, you’ll find that this spa is a nice option.
The price was free for me, but the price range of services is from RMB 300 to 900 with varying limits from one hour to two hours. This spa lets you buy in bulk, making the price average very affordable. They have several other services available, from bladder and kidney massage techniques to breast care to a full beauty treatment. The bonus is that one of the attendants here speaks English and German, so you can make your reservations in advance.
Everyday, 10am-10pm. Room 2001, block A, Yuanyang Shinkansen. 远洋新干线A座2001室. (13522495152)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. The prices are reasonable, especially in bulk. The location is convenient for those in the city, and the place is very clean. I suppose I’m a bit more strict than their other customers because they’ve got a 5 out of 5 rating on dianping (which you should check out for their deals).
Photos: Vanessa Jencks