Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I just came home from a massage. Some of you are looking at the title and not seeing the connection between it and my first sentence. Others of you understand. I see a massage therapist every three weeks. That sounds indulgent and decadent to the uninitiated. "I'm going for a massage," we draw out the word, especially those last three letters - "Massaaaaggge." We imagine a dimly lit, luxurious spa with thick terry-cloth robes and cucumber slices on our closed eyes, scented candles burning, fuzzy watercolors of flowers and ponds decorating the walls, soothing music playing, a fountain gurgling in the background. The massage is so nice and soothing that we almost drift off into sleep, a smile on our face. Some of you may be thinking of a few other things, but this is a PG rated blog and we're not going there.

That may be the picture of some types of massage but not therapeutic massage. No. Therapeutic massage is not relaxing. You do not drift off. You do not smile. There is soothing music. The environment is designed to be relaxing and yes, there is art work and dim lighting. But in addition to that fuzzy watercolor, on the opposite wall is the chart of the trigger points in the human musculature system.
And, instead of scented candles there is the menthol/camphor aroma of the oil that's being used to help dig more deeply into your flesh.

Technically, my therapist practices 'neuro-muscular massage therapy.' The point of the massage is pain management and the way that is done is to attempt to keep the muscles loose and flexible. The more loose they are, the less they bind up and cause pain. Doing this requires pressure and digging. That digging causes pain. Once you're on the table and in the midst of the massage, you see the point of the trigger point charts. All of those muscles are connected one way or another. Pain in your knees? That might be, but what needs work is all the muscles that are connected to the knee and even some that aren't.

When we experience an injury of some sort, our bodies attempt to compensate. We adjust our stride or we limp so as not to put too much weight or pressure somewhere. We sit differently in our chairs or sleep differently at night. Our attempts to hold our bodies in certain ways to ease pain causes other parts or our bodies to bind up into unnatural positions. The longer we hold those positions, the worse the binding and the worse the pain. In our attempt to ease our pain, we create more of it.

Unfortunately, to heal those injuries we need to work through the pain. Thus, the digging. And the digging pays off, because little by little the pain starts to ease. The upshot is you need to go through the pain to get rid of the pain. And so it is with the other areas of our life. Pain is part of the deal. For some of us it is pain from relationships, for others pain from our childhood or family issues, for others pain from disappointment or unmet dreams. We try to compensate for those pains and in turn they simply show up in other areas of our lives. And in those areas, too, working through the issues is painful. And, as unpleasant as the digging might be, going through the one pain is the only way to release and ease the other pain. So, start digging. At least there's a soak in a hot tub and a martini at the end of it!

Once again I have 'acquired' photos off the web. Photo 1 is from:
Photo 2 is from:

1 comment:

  1. I have always wondered why, when they show someone getting a massage, the head is turned sideways. Torture! Nobody gets a massage that way. Bad for the neck. I would have a headache for a week and be visiting my chiropractor for extra visits. Yet, photos and movies portray the client with their head turned sideways. Anyway, I know your massage therapist well. She is above and beyond skilled at her craft. She may be the best I have ever been to... and I have been to many. And not only is she educated and strong, she actually cares. You are a lucky lady, Judy!