Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I See I Have a Massage Scheduled this Morning …

When you think of a massage do you envision being wrapped up in fleecy towels on a cushioned table, soft music in the background and muted lights, while warming aromatic oils are rubbed into your body? Do you recall the glowing, relaxed feeling as your muscles are kneaded and stretched as strong, supple hands gradually work to remove all your tension and stress? Well, the memory I’ll always associate with massage is listening to an absolutely horribly low pitched, gurgling cry of pain coming through a masseuse’s closed door; then my turning and, upon seeing the stricken face of a rugby teammate lying beside me, smiling and giving him a big double thumbs up saying, “I’m up next!” Lots of laughs. I’ll admit they were stressful laughs –gallows humour and all – but we were laughing. Welcome to the world of therapeutic massage. Massage has always been present in my life as my father was a great proponent of its use for physical well being. My two sisters and I were taught the basics and even today, when two of us siblings come together, a sign of physical stress or discomfort often results in a massage. But working out a muscle knot isn’t always pleasant, even if the end result is. A little digression here - I told my first girlfriend I could give a massage and she was delighted. So at thirteen I dug right in … and discovered her concept of massage was very much different than mine! How could I have known a good massage could be pleasurable in a sexy way? I also learned girls can bruise easily. Not good at all. So now I have two versions of massage – your choice . I, too, have preferences as I’m slightly more comfortable with a male versus female masseuse for two practical reasons: 1) my upbringing forbids my swearing in front of a woman; and 2) my male pride makes me reluctant to show pain in their presence (and not indicating pain during a massage is plain stupid). Still, I’m not at all biased against using female massage therapists; in fact my current therapist is a she. Today Carolyn concentrated on working my lower back (surprised?), specifically my right erector spinae muscles. How do I know the name of those very muscles she was working? Is my understanding of anatomy that advanced? No it isn’t - I know because I asked her, and I asked her because she was hurting the bejezus out of me! It felt like she was digging her elbow up and down the right side of my spine, and it was causing my right glute and hamstrings to completely lock up. Clearly the pain said this was doing me a world of good, but it just went on and on. She didn’t stop. Oh how I prayed for her to stop! Finally I surrendered, shifted my position on the table away from that murderous elbow, and gave a big grunt. Carolyn, being a consummate professional, immediately ceased and made the obvious and inevitable observation, “boy, really tight there”. But the next thing she started to manipulate was the same right leg and hip, something which threw my leg into one massive cramp (hey, it was beaten up and tired!) which brought me completely off the table and elicited a gasp of pain. Well, it might have been a little louder than a gasp. And the gasp might have been an intelligible word, but I honestly can’t remember what it was; clearly something short and to the point. Whatever it was, my lower back and right hamstring did feel a lot better and looser respectively walking out afterwards. Those readers who may be somewhat unsettled by my experience should rest assured your local massage therapist will start out nice and easy, but you too can eventually work your way up to the pleasures of a full and vigorous massage like the ones I enjoy. I highly recommend massage as part of your overall program if you’re doing any extensive training, or even just seeing a period of radically increased exercise. Heck, have one for no reason whatsoever. Professional and elite amateur athletes always employ massage therapists and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t gain the same benefits either (well, cost can rear its ugly head).

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