Massages for Aching Wallets

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According to Chinese medicine, if you take care of your feet, they'll take care of you. And a good, firm massage qualifies as some of the best payback. In most major cities, Chinatown is the place to find massages where footing the bill is painless.

BOSTON: Skin Care Adventure

Your feet are scrubbed clean with hot towels and then kneaded in a bare-bones, but pleasant, three-bed treatment room. 36 Essex St., 617/338-9222, $55 for one hour

CHICAGO: Mercy Acupuncture Center

Two traditional Chinese-medicine doctors founded this center. In keeping with holistic philosophy, foot therapies are designed to alleviate pain and dysfunction throughout the body. 208 W. Cermak Rd., 312/225-4822, $60 for one hour

NEW YORK CITY: Fishion Herb Center

What the often crowded herb center lacks in ambience, its practitioners make up for with their skill. No-frills shiatsu massage and reflexology, a treatment in which practitioners focus solely on pressure points, take place in small private rooms. 107 Mott St., 212/966-8771, $35 for one hour

PHILADELPHIA: Feel Better Reflexology Center

Three rooms are dedicated to reflexology. And if you sign up for a full-body hour-long Swedish massage ($80), a hot-stone foot massage is tacked on at the end. 601 N. 2nd St., 215/928-8828, $75 for one hour

SAN FRANCISCO: Foot Reflexology Center

Recliners line the walls in what resembles the waiting room in a doctor's office. Practitioners ask what ails you (indigestion, headache, etc.), and then cater their treatment to tackling the problem--starting with a soothing herb-infused footbath. 662 Jackson St., 415/989-2268, $45 for one hour

VANCOUVER: Silk Road

Therapists begin by wrapping green tea--infused towels around the feet to kick-start muscle relaxation. They also use a signature line of essential oil blends, such as Tonic, with peppermint and lavender, which is designed to increase circulation and overall energy. 1624 Government St., 250/704-2688, $56 for one hour

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