Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Soothing Massage

Ah, there is nothing like a soothing, deep-tissue massage. The relaxing new age music that makes you want to drift off. The aromatic, warm oil lightly massaged into your sore muscles. The agonizing feeling of having your muscles, tendons, and ligaments slowly ripped from your femur!

Yesterday, I had my active release therapy treatment for my heel. It was barely painful, but all of my walking this past weekend – 18 miles – had given me some soreness in my left hamstring tendon. Every three visits my health insurance allows a 30 minute massage, and the masseuse that they use is really good. Yesterday being my third appointment since a massage, I went in to the little massage room. “I’ll leave, and you can take your trousers off. The doc said I need to work a bit on that hamstring,” she said.

It started off well – the oils, the music, a light probing touch, focusing on my left foot and tight calf. Then she moved up to the hamstring – a little more painful – and started digging in. “If it hurts, take a deep breath and then…” she started to say, before going silent as I breathed in so deeply so as to remove all of the oxygen in that zip code. When I looked back to see her turning blue, I breathed out. “.... breathe out slowly,” she gasped.

Her strong fingers started digging deep into my hamstring, finding a knot of muscle that must have looked like a python that had swallowed a large feral hog, along with its parents and grandparents. Wow, that hurt! “You know, try some visualizations,” she said, somehow picking up on my discomfort. “That might help.”

“Like what?” I stammered through gritted teeth. “Well, like a peaceful field, with flowers,” she suggested.

Yes, a nice field! I can see it now! It is golden in the sun, with beautiful flowers. A gentle breeze is blowing. Birds are singing. I felt myself relaxing. Ahhhh! Oh, look, there’s a zebra in the field. No, it is a herd of zebra – they are so beautiful! Owww! Holy crap, a group of lions just attacked a zebra and are ripping it shreds as it neighs in agony! Wait a second, that is me neighing in agony! “The visualization isn’t working so great,” I wail. “Try a stream,” she says. “I think if I start visualizing a stream, I am going to see a huge crocodile tearing the leg off a wildebeest, or something like that,” I moan.

She starts tearing into the knot of muscle again with fingers of titanium. “How did I get a big knot like that in my hamstring?” I ask. “Probably scar tissue from an old injury,” she explains. “Try to relax, it makes it easier if the muscles are not all tense.”

Easier for what, I wonder? Easier to tear my strong muscles into a quivering, jelly-like mass of glop?

“Well, I think I’m done with this area,” she states. “Thank God, because I don’t think I could take much more of it,” I wanted to say, but I just give some kind of strangled monosyllabic reply. I’d been seconds away from offering her $100 to stop.

“Now, this area is going to be pretty sore tomorrow, so ice it a lot and take some Ibuprophin if you need to. You may have noticed that I dug in pretty deep at times,” she says. “Yes, I did notice. What gave that away? Was it the way I squirmed a bit? Was it the way I had a hard time relaxing? Or was it when I screamed so loudly that all the glass in the building shattered, and I dug my fingernails through the drywall there?” I asked. “The latter,” she said. “Make sure you drink plenty of water.” “What about wine – like a couple of liters of wine?” I asked, receiving no reply.

I got dressed, tipped her, and limped out to the car. And she was right, it was not only sore today, but all of yesterday, although I was able to walk about 3.5 miles last night. And ice has been a frequent companion to my left hamstring last night and today.

I’ve poked a little fun at my treatment (and at myself), but rest assured, she does an excellent job, and I’ll be back. But the next time I go in there with a sore area, I might just keep that knowledge to myself!

1 comment:

Anton Houskeeper said...

That kind of soothing massage can be tough, ha ha. But, indeed, in the end it can be quite beneficial to the body. Those skilled hands that massage are great for therapeutic purposes.