I received a massage yesterday. Yeah, I took time out of my busy day, went to a spa and got some kinks worked out of my muscles… in the name of “relaxation.” I “pampered” myself for a few hours. Yeah, I lived the “good life” for one whole day. Bwahahahhahaaaa!!!!
Before you start becoming exceedingly jealous of me: Listen. I apparently really needed the hour of relaxation. Doctors orders. Due to various car accidents over the years, my back has turned into a stiff diving board. Wait. I feel like I have to be more emphatic: My muscles are more tangled than a discarded spider web. (How’s that? Enough description for you???) Seriously. I’ve tried physical therapy, chiropractic services, acupuncture… and yes, even massage… and nothing has really helped my back over the years. I’ve learned to live with the pain; I don’t even know what a “normal” back feels like anymore. Couple that with being under a lot of stress lately, and it’s not a recipe for anything good. In four words: My Back Hurts. Badly. And now, the stiffness is traveling up my neck, so, additionally, I have a mean case of TMJ. Oy. I’m old.
So okay, I made an appointment for a massage, and I showed up for the session. Under a no-nonsense massage therapist, I succumbed to her hands… and tolerated her for an hour.
… Am I the only person who doesn’t enjoy the art of massage? There is nothing relaxing about it… IT HURTS! When your back is as grumpy as mine, you can kick a Swedish, soothing massage out the door. No. Most massage therapists become militant with me quite quickly, and torture via deep tissue and/or sports massage commences. This ain’t no day spa here; it’s pure bodywork. And if anyone knows me, it’s hard for me to be quiet for one full hour, which complicates matters exponentially.
The relief and pampering usually begins after I go home, pop an Advil and climb into bed, whimpering. Massages just aren’t my thing.
But surprisingly, this time around… something actually worked. Although I did not go home with a goofy look of euphoria like some of my girlfriends do, I wasn’t completely broken either. My back… actually felt BETTER! Don’t get me wrong: the hour was as painful as I remembered, but I could definitely feel that muscles were loosened afterwards, particularly in my neck and jaw. (Hey, TMJ. How do you like me now????) So yes, I made another appointment in two weeks, to hopefully keep myself on this path. The masseuse said that maybe in 2-3 months time, my back can be “normal” again. Here’s to hoping.
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And with that, here’s some tips from her that will ensure that all of you receive a great massage the next time you head in for a muscle rub:
- Get thee to your spa date early. Ideally, plan to arrive 15-30 minutes in advance. This allows you to unwind and take a load off before your appointment. If you arrive in a frenzy, you’re not going to get the most out of it… it’s supposed to be relaxing, remember? And if you’re late, it just eats into your massage time. Your session will be rushed, and you won’t get your money’s worth out of your meeting.
- Don’t eat right before your massage. It won’t feel good when the therapist presses down on your stomach. Trust.
- In the same realm, drink lots of water before and after your appointment. Hydration helps the “padding” between your muscles and your skin. I.e., the massage, itself feels much better. Try massaging a waterbed. Then a plank of wood. There’s a significant difference in comfort for both you and the masseuse.
- Hey, good hygiene is important. Take a shower and slap on some deodorant before your session. Nobody wants to touch you if you smell like a homeless person. Ladies, shave your legs. Prickliness hurts poor massage therapist’s hands!
- Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. If you have to be fully clothed, say so. If you don’t want to be massaged in a specific location, let him know. It’s your body. Not the therapists’.
- Speak up also if the pressure is too great, you don’t like the music, the room is too warm, you don’t like the smell of their lotions and potions, etc. Often times, the massage therapist can do something about these minor inconveniences.
- Try not to tighten up during the massage. If you find your mind racing, try to relax and just go with the flow. Remember, any pressure point will only hurt for a few seconds, and then he/she’ll move on to a different area; and
- Don’t rush into work afterwards. If possible, take some quiet time to yourself after a massage. Often, people need some time to come back to “reality.” Particularly if you’re so relaxed you can barely stand.