Bad Feet, Tired Shoulders: A Tale of Reflexology Gone Awry

Reflexology foot massage

Not my foot spa, fyi.

It seemed the perfect treat after a long day walking the concrete jungle: a reflexology foot massage. Feeling the self-love, I plunked myself down on a chair in the shadowy recesses of a Chinatown foot spa, imagining how all manner of tootsies more horrid than mine could have rested there – my feet would be a welcome treat for a reflexologist, no? I mean, my toenails were just painted pink! I sat down, wiggled my toes and smiled fetchingly at the masseuse.

And so it was with a whole lot of upset that I realized Danny, my minister of massage, was not smiling back. He was instead directing a twisted-up grimace at the bottoms of my feet and muttering, “Very, very bad,” over and over.

As he furiously wiped down my apparently offending feet, I blushed, compelled to justify myself, all the while withering under his judgmental scrubbing. “Come on, my sandal bottoms are black!” I stammered. “Plus, it’s hot out. Seriously, I just walked 2 miles down Park Avenue!”

No discernible reaction. Danny just tossed away the towel and started started squeezing, kneading, twisting toes, and slapping my shins with abandon. I tried to roll with the, er, punches, and thought I was succeeding when suddenly he whipped out an elongated device I’m pretty certain I saw in a Medieval museum of torture in the far corners of Belgium. He began sliding it with extraordinary strength down the soles of my feet. I started to sweat and whimper.

Ah, but Danny, the mighty masseuse glanced up, unimpressed. “Your shoulders tired,” he announced, continuing to put enough pressure on the ball of my foot to yield a diamond.

Now, it should be noted that for the duration of my travels in Asia, and while living in Manhattan, land of a thousand Asian foot spas, I’ve wanted to try a reflexology massage. I already dig acupuncture, and love the thought that our qi and body energies are inter-connected somehow or other. It seemed fascinating that via my feet all manner of ails could be detected and helped. Whoa. So, I was super jazzed to sit down and get the most out of a $12-for-15-minutes massage deal.

What I got instead was a hobbling 2-day-long limp, like the arch of my foot was filled with marbles. And then there was the minor shin bruising, a tender reminder of my foibles. Alas, I won’t be visiting any foot spas on my next Asia trip.

Of course, that’s not to say reflexology’s a crock. In fairness to Danny, I’m doing pretty awesome this week. And you know what? To his credit, my shoulders feel positively spry.

One Comment

  1. Laurie.schaeffer@gmail.com says:

    That reminded me of you “authentic” Turkish? Massage experience- stick to the “American” versions!

    Sent from my iPad