Help me get a massage in Chicago like the ones I got in China.
April 6, 2008 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Help me get a massage in Chicago like the ones I got in China.

Chicago Mefis: I've traveled to China a few times now and each time I've had great massages. I've only had one massage in the U.S., mainly due to cost, but it was very different than what I experienced in China and Southeast Asia. I prefer a hard massage—the kind that leaves you hurting for a day or two but eventually straightens you all out. The one Swedish massage I had in the U.S. felt nice during but left no impression on my muscles and didn't get any of the knots out. I'm not sure if shiatsu or deep tissue would be enough for me. I've had an Ayurvedic Massage in Kerala, India and had the same reaction as I did ot the Swedish massage (only I was covered in a lot more oil).

The massages I've had have been in Western China usually in a nondescript storefront. They've been preformed by blind men, older women and young women, all of whom kneaded my back into submission. The massage is always done fully clothed, usually with a sheet over my body as well. This level of coverings isn't necessary, but I don't need a traditional massage with oils and relaxing music. I've been massaged in places with dirt floors so I don't need anything fancy. One massage was done by a girl hanging from bars on the ceiling who effectively massaged me with her feet. Afterwards hot sandbags were rolled across my back. Some of the massage parlors in China also had people being treated with traditional methods (cupping etc.) and I like that it was seen more as a health treatment than an indulgence.

I've also had massages in Thailand and like them nearly as much. I am quite flexible, so I need someone who's really willing to put her body weight into it. I could go for any combination of Thai or Chinese massage. I've thought about looking around Chinatown but don't want to get find myself in a brothel or worse. I'm female, so I'm not as worried about the proposal of a 'happy ending' as much as just the 'ick' factor. I want someone who knows what she's doing.

The main treatment I want is for my back which suffers from the usual "sitting in front of a computer all day" problems and the weight of a large chest. I am confidant that if I were to get massages on a regular basis my mild back pain would be cured. I also enjoy the rest of the massage and am always amazed at how tense other parts of my body are, like my hands. A friend who lives in China (and took me to one of the massage parlors) told me that it's quite normal to get a massage and isn't seen as an indulgence. I'd like to find a place with the same mentality that doesn't charge "spa prices" so I could return often.

So far my friend, who is a professional masseuse, has no recommendations for me other than to look for places that practice Tui Na. I'm not sure if Tui Na is what I'm looking for, as I've read it described as "similar to Swedish massage." The closest place I've found is Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, which has inexpensive massages from its students. The price is great for me. Do any of you have personal experience from Pacific College or another reputable place in or around Chicago that doesn't charge day spa prices?

I have seen this question so I know a few cheaper places in Chicago but I suspect they might not be what I'm looking for.
posted by Bunglegirl to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This place might be worth a try.
posted by jules1651 at 7:52 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Thousand Waves Spa recommendations from the other thread. Call and ask for Jennie G. to make a therapist recommendation; Leah, Nikki, Tabitha and Debra all do very deep work. It is also women only, so hopefully less creepy for you. I'm not sure if it will be cheap enough for you, but they do sell "packages" that save you quite a bit, and I know that they'll have a sale on those at the end of this month.

If you really need it very much cheaper, the chair massage guys at Whole Foods are $1 per minute. There's a dude who I always see at the North Ave. store (long hair, Nordic?) who does pretty good deep tissue work.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 11:21 PM on April 6, 2008

I was in Chicago last month and a friend of mine highly recommended this place up on Lincoln between Diversey and Fullerton, Spacetime Tanks. He said it was a hard massage followed by a sit in a sensory deprivation tank. I wanted to try it but had no time.
posted by chillmost at 12:43 AM on April 7, 2008

I had an appointment a couple of years ago ago at the Kaya Day Spa (112 North May St, 312-243-5292, ). It's a pretty standard chi-chi soothing-lavender-smelling-American-spa, so: expensive, but the massage I had was a no bullshit, getting the knots and trigger points, deep tissue massage. I don't remember who the practitioner was, but if you describe what you need, they could probably point you to the right masseuse.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:24 AM on April 7, 2008

Although Kaya and Thousand Waves look nice I'm not in the market for $90+ an hour + tip. I figured that a more bare bones place would be more affordable. The first answer, The Pain Stop Massage Therapy, sounds like what I'm looking for but I figured a place with little privacy and no English spoken would be less than $65/hour. After traveling so much I think that I'm having trouble coming to terms with the cost of most services in the U.S. It's definitely a possibility though, I might have to set up a special massage fund.

Would you be tipping $13 in addition to the $65 for the massage, assuming they did a good job?

I can see getting a quick fix at Whole Foods, that would be better than nothing. Thanks, and if anyone knows of any more or has been to Pacific College I'd appreciate the info.
posted by Bunglegirl at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2008

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