As a runner, and one who occasionally runs long distances, I am a big proponent of massage therapy. Now when I say massage I am not referring to the type of Swedish massage that has you fast asleep on the table in 15 minutes. I am talking about the kind of therapeutic sports massage that features a masseuse that has to remind you to breathe and apologizes for the pain 9 or 10 times in the matter of an hour. Last night, I let my inner masochist out and paid a little asian woman to make me cry.
Normally it doesn’t come to this, but I have been lax in my stretching and foam rolling and I noticed over the last week that my legs were getting very sore and very stiff. So I booked a massage with the full expectation of having it be a bit painful now, but beneficial in the long run. Because I called at the last minute my appointment was with a woman that I hadn’t seen before, named Bee.
“Do you have any problem areas?” she asked.
“My legs. I have been running longer distances lately, so my legs are getting sore.”
“And you want hard massage right?” she confirmed.
“Is it okay if I walk on you?” she asked mater-of-fact.
Now to be honest, I replied to that last question without really thinking about it. Had I considered the question in more detail, I still would have said yes, but I probably would have asked a few questions first. Too late. She had already hopped up on to the table behind me and was standing on my hamstrings.
Fortunately Bee is not a large woman. She is petit and demure, but surprisingly strong and agile. I immediately recognized that this was not going to be an ordinary massage the minute her toes started pressing into my hamstrings. On several occasions I could feel a throbbing pain starting at the point of contact and radiating down to the tips of my toes.
“Sorry.” She would say a number of different times.
“That’s okay.” I would reply each time.
When she started on my calves, the pain eased a bit as my calves were apparently not as tight as other parts of my body. I maintained calm breathing and try to stay relaxed. Even on my calves, she was able to find tender spots and exploit them.
Then she moved to my IT bands. For me, IT pain is the biggest issue that I deal with. I have trouble getting them stretched well. I have trouble getting them rolled out well with my foam roller. Every mile I run seems to make them just a little bit tighter. The discomfort that comes to the outside of my knees is a flashing red warning light that I have to address. I knew this one was going to hurt.
By the time the hour was up, I was sweating and I was exhausted, but I was confident that it was all worth it. I reached up and gave her a high five. I could feel my IT bands and my hamstrings aching. I honestly felt a little bit sore all over, like I had just been in a car accident, but this is what I get for not stretching and rolling every day to make sure that I stay loose and limber.
It reminds me of a lesson that my mother tried to instill in me, apparently unsuccessfully. When I would complain about having to spend the entire day cleaning my room because it was such a mess she would try to reason with me. She said that if I would just pick up my room a little bit every day, it would never get this messy and I wouldn’t have to spend half of my Saturday cleaning up after myself. It makes so much sense to me now, but it didn’t really take hold back then.
I would just look up at her with a bit of a pout on my face and say “Sorry.”
And she would smile at me and say “That’s Okay.”