Some of y’all are probably aware that I’ve been having problems with my neck and back recently. Let’s just say that last Christmas, I was a mess. My arms either burned or were numb. My neck hurt so bad I couldn’t turn my head. I couldn’t sleep. I could only sit in one position, and even then, not for very long. My back ached constantly – except when the shooting pain took over. The migraines were the final straw. I finally had to go see the doctor.
What he discovered was a bit of a perfect storm of problems that were going to take a while to sort out: spinal issues that were just bad genetics, an old injury that hadn’t healed properly, too many hours sitting improperly at the computer, and (like a lot of other people) I carry stress and tension in my neck and shoulders.
There were medical things – chiropractic care, a series of painful shots and a course of massive anti-inflammatory meds. Painkillers to get me through the tough spots and help me sleep. There were lifestyle changes – a new kind of pillow (which I hated for a long time), special stretches and exercises I had to do, ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and chair, more breaks when I’m working at the computer (and those breaks meant getting up and walking around – not just clicking over to Facebook.) More yoga. Wrist braces to sleep in at night.
It took a while, but I started to feel a little better. Then the doctor said it was time to add something else to the mix. I know I rolled my eyes, because, dear dog, my life was already upside down from everything. Then I got the prescription: Massage Therapy. Thirty minutes a week.
Finding another hour in my week – including drive time, etc – didn’t sound great, but hey, massage! I’d had a couple of massages before and loved them.
Then I found out this wasn’t the relax-and-let-me-rub-you kind of massage. This was deep tissue, let’s-sort-you-out kind of massage. My massage therapist is a tiny, soft-spoken woman who could probably bring a grown man to his knees with her thumbs. Let’s put it this way – when you come home from a massage, gulp three Advil and strap an ice pack to your back, it wasn’t what you’d call relaxing. But the next day… wow. I felt a thousand percent better. Those early days weren’t fun, but the results were nothing short of amazing.
As I’ve gone on, the massages have gotten less painful simply because they are working their magic on my muscles. Yeah, occasionally there’s a bad knot that has to be worked out, but it’s no longer a run-for-the-ice-pack adventure each time. I’ve gotten addicted to massage. When I got sunburned last weekend, my first thought was “oh, no, I’ll have to cancel my massage!”
Aside from working knots out of my muscles, massage has all kinds of secondary benefits I didn’t know about until I started receiving them. The increased blood flow gives me energy. Relaxing the muscles in my neck and back makes me feel taller, like my back has more space to move in. I sleep better. The time on the table with the dim light and new age music helps me clear my head – meditation without even trying. I’ve come up with all kinds of book ideas and solutions to plot problems while on the massage table. I’m less stressed, more relaxed, more creative. I look forward to massage time now – even the sometimes painful stuff. The occasional painful part is totally worth the overall wonderfulness.
And because I’m a regular, my therapist often takes a little extra time with me to do non-medically required massage. That kind of make-me-feel-good stuff that has me drooling into the headrest. Just to help me remember how much I love massage.
I know some folks don’t like to be massaged – modesty issues (not me) or that they don’t like to be touched (also not me). If I were rich, I’d move my massage therapist into my house and have a massage every day – that’s how addicted I am. I’m a convert to the wonders of massage therapy and getting a little evangelical about spreading the news.
An addiction that’s good for me – body and mind. Gotta love it.
So what’s your good-for-you addiction?