I am not a masochist, but if I was, getting a massage would be one of my favorite things to do. The process can be painful. In fact, most times I’ve had massages, I felt less like I was being soothed and more like I was being assaulted.
At one point, I had thought massage was supposed to be a pleasant, relaxing, experience, kind of like a back rub with bells and whistles. This was a mistake. Massage therapy is more like psychotherapy, in that the therapist digs in to where it hurts and then proceeds to push and prod until whatever is causing the pain cries uncle and moves out. At least that’s what it feels like.
I pulled some muscles in my lower back lifting my wife out of her chair (she has a broken ankle), so I made an appointment with one of our local practitioners that my wife had gone to see a few weeks earlier. Thankfully, she had evening appointments so I was able to get in right away. I live in a small town in Iowa, so being able to go in at night is very nice.
Her studio was downstairs in a local office building. I almost turned around at that moment, since my back was already spasming at even a hint of movement. But I was desperate, so I made my way slowly down the steps. The first words out of her mouth were “You must be Larry!”, followed by “I could tell by the way you are walking that you are a hurtin’ unit.”
At that point, she told me to go into a small room with a table and get undressed and then left the room. However, I have had enough instances of being half or fully undressed in front of perfect strangers that it would not have made a difference if she had stayed. I’m not an exhibitionist by nature, but once you’ve had enough medical care of various sorts, dignity seems like a bit of a luxury.
Once I was situated, she proceeded to knead the life out of me. I felt like bread dough. You know when somebody does something that hurts, but it feels good because it hurts? It was like that. She found muscles that had been neglected for so long that they were blinking in the daylight and wondering where they were. Unfortunately this caused them to panic and go into spasms just to announce their presence. My therapist’s only comment was “You have two kinds of muscles in your back, tight and tighter”
My wife had scheduled an hour session when she made the appointment for me, so all I could do is lay there and wait for it to end, much like getting your teeth cleaned, only I didn’t have to keep my mouth open. My sinuses, however, had other ideas. Having a runny nose during or after a massage seems to be a common experience. Part of this is due to the fact that you are laying face down for an extended period of time. My theory is that all of the pain from getting massaged has to go somewhere, so it goes to your sinuses where it can exit the body. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
After she was done, I paid her and made my way slowly, painfully, back up the stairs and out to my car. That night, I lay in bed trying not to move, and taking comfort in the idea that she hadn’t actually tried to kill me.
But the next day, I felt a little better. And I’ve felt less pain each day following.
I better let you get to work. I need to make an appointment.