HURTS SO GOOD: WHAT IT’S LIKE TO GET DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE

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I had my first deep tissue massage yesterday, people.

It was pretty extreme.

You know that pain, the kind that comes from stretching or soreness, that makes you go “ahhhh it HURTS!!” But, you also love it? That was this, times ten thousand.

The particular massage therapist (he works at Myo) had come recommended to me from a friend. I was whining on Saturday night about having uneven hips, immobile shoulders, lower back pain – basically, I was practicing for when I’m 85 years old.

“I can’t lift my right leg in a front attitude!” I said, with the same amount of distress one might reserve for their right leg falling off.

“Go see my guy,” said Fannie. “He’ll change your life.”

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When I met Barton, I told him I was an aerialist.

“Ah, yes,” he said knowingly. “I see a lot of you. Let me guess. Shoulders?”

“It’s like I can hardly move them!” I yelped.

“Noted. What else?”

“I’ve been stretching my right hip out for years and it’s still horribly uneven. Also, when I bend forward, like this?” I demonstrated, “my lower back is stiff and sore.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” Barton said, nodding. “Your uneven hips are probably creating pressure on your back, so we have to adjust you. So I’ll let you get ready. Be right back.”

I disrobed, limped over to the massage table and crawled underneath the covers. Barton re-entered the room, and turned on some music.

“Let’s begin,” he said.

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Now, I’ve had several simple relaxation massages before. But this was the first time I had ever booked a sports injury type of massage, the kind that don’t necessarily feel pleasant.

I mean, they can, but their real purpose is to work some shit out.

“What are you-OH MY GOD-what in the world are you doing to my hip?” I asked Barton early in the massage.

“Well, I’m basically moving your fascia around and bulldozing through some trigger points,” he said, “which are located pretty deep down in there. Feel that?”

“YES!!! Yes I feel that! Owwweeee!”

It made me wonder how many interesting sounds the front desk lady at Myo Massage hears during her day.

Anyway, in between feeling extreme pain (the good kind) and relief, I would get ticklish when Barton was pressing down on trigger points. He said it was because they were little masses of contracted muscle, gripping onto tension either because of excessive use or because of sitting.

“We weren’t really made to sit,” he said. “Wait, what is it that you do again?”

“I’m a writer,” I groaned. “And I just started teaching yoga.”

“So basically you’re really really active, or, sedentary?”

“Yes,” I moaned sheepishly.

“I see,” said Barton. “Hang on, this is going to hurt.”

“AHHHHHHolySHITohmygodohmygodohmygod!” I cried. “What the hell is happening back there?”

“Whew! Big knot in your back, but we got it,” said Barton, brushing his hands off like a surgeon.

After our hour was up, Barton left to get me some water. I rolled off the table, and stood.

My shoulders could move again. My lower back was almost pain-free. The right hip wasn’t perfect, but it was better.

“Yeah, you might hurt a bit tomorrow,” warned Barton.

But I skipped out like a kid with a lollipop.

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As I type this, I am so freakin’ sore.

My whole lower back is achy, and my right hip feels like somebody has been punching it. Which I guess is what Barton did, in slow motion.

Right afterward I was languid and sleepy for most of the day, and my aerialist friends told me it was because my kidneys were working so hard to process the toxins that massage releases. I mean I honestly felt like I was in a mini coma for a solid three hours so it’s possible I have a really toxic body.

“I try to only sit for 15 hours a week,” said Susan, my aerial partner.

As a writer, it’s hard not to sit. And it almost seems like any white collar job where one is financially successful and makes lots of money involves sitting. Unless you do a standing desk. (Do you do a standing desk?)

I’m wondering now if it’s all the sitting, and not all the aerial, that’s jacking up my body. Probably a little bit of both.

Or, maybe it’s just being a human being. Our bodies are still evolving, and they’re pretty damn efficient, but they’re not perfect. We can think our way out of most problems, but all that thinking gets stored in the secret recesses of our bodies, little capsules of anxiety and worry and memory that twist our muscles this way and that, until the Bartons of the world go in and release them.

I wonder what having a perfectly free body is like.