Being a runner, a long distance one, one of the simple indulgences which I enjoy most is a foot massage. Especially in winter, soaking your tired feet in wam water with someone massaging them is more than welcome.
Of course, there are plenty of spas in Shanghai which offer foot massages, from the economical no-frills type to the luxurious pamper-yourself-silly type.
Talk about cheap foot massages, I have actually tried one costing RMB25 at a friend's neighbourhood one. It was actually quite good. So, never write those economically priced ones off !
I had a few interesting experiences too. Once, some muscles in my shoulders felt relaxed when when a specific area of the foot sole is massaged instead. I think there must a be a corresponding nerve interconnected somewhere. It was certainly a funny sensation.
Another time, a masseur asked me if I just had too much to eat before dropping by their premise. I replied "yes" and asked her how she knew. She touched a section of my foot sole and told me that the specific area she was massaging felt rough. Apparently, that was a sign of a full stomach. Amazing.
Also, in one of the shops I tried, I saw a line item in the menu offering massage with hydraulic oil ! I am not sure whether its a Chinglish printing error or really its done with industrial oil but I never tried it.
My favourite place to go for a foot massage (I cant remember the name of the shop) is one directly opposite Rendevous Hotel in Yan An West Road. One of the reason is because there is a nice cafe nearby where I always pop by after.
Of course, not everybody can handle a foot massage. Some Westerners I know actually decline to try saying that the experience is awkward, uncomfortable and painful.
However, I can assure you it is not as "bad" as it seems. For me, I just look at it from the angle of an athlete having someone to help relax the muscles after some hard training.
Trust me, it is actually quite refreshing and reinvigorating.
So if you are visiting Shanghai or China for the first time soon, try it!