Traditional Chinese Massage
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Qing-dynasty barbers developed the current form of Chinese massage, known as tuīná (推拿; literally push-grab). In addition to cutting hair, skilled barbers learned to use acupressure points to treat different ailments and the practice, which was cheaper, less painful and safer than acupuncture, soon became quite popular – even late Qing emperors employed tuīná masseurs. In 1822, the Daoguang emperor decried acupuncture as unsafe and banned the practice, helping tuīná to secure its position as an integral part of Chinese medical treatment.
The general idea behind Chinese massage is that it stimulates your qì (vital energy that flows along different pathways or meridians, each of which is connected to a major organ) and removes energy blockages, through which you can treat specific ailments, from muscular and joint pain to the common cold.
Interestingly, the hairdresser-massage association is still quite common in China, though the roles have again changed: many businesses that advertise themselves as hairdressers are now nothing more than brothels, with rows of young girls seated beneath lurid pink lighting waiting to provide ‘massage services’ to their clients. This doesn’t mean that tuīná has disappeared – getting a real massage has never been easier, and in Shànghǎi, they come at a fraction of the price that you’d pay at home.