Wrenched tendon? Sprained wrist? For centuries, Chinese sufferers have
sought relief from such injuries by consulting practitioners of Chinese
medicine, who specialize in a sub-branch of sports or accident
injuries. One of the best clinics, located in Oakland's Chinatown,
draws Chinese restaurant workers, high school-soccer players, and the
occasional in-the-know Westerner, perhaps fresh from a biking bang-up.
Run by a father-son team from Hong Kong, the tiny clinic is essentially
a one-room fix-it shop, where the patient sits on a stool and is tended
to while other patients waiting their turn look on interestedly. (There
is a screened area if the injury requires removing clothing.) After a
careful examination of the injured site, Simon Tang, who speaks
English, or his Chinese-speaking father, will give a vigorous but
careful massage, slapping, pummeling, pressing, jabbing, and rubbing
the area of injury. Then an aromatic dark paste of Chinese herbs will
be laid across the injury and wrapped with a flexible gauze bandage.
The opposite of Western medical practices, which advocate
immobilization and painkillers, this Chinese treatment is based on
increasing blood flow to the injury to speed healing. Patients queue up
(no appointments necessary) and plunk down $35 in cash after a
treatment. Expect to return multiple times, depending on the severity
of the injury. The real bottom line? It works.