Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Around the end of the summer, I was feeling the strain of too much school and schedule. So in a moment of rash decision-making I joined a massage clinic. Now I’m a card-carrying member, signed up for massages once a month at least.
Everyone thinks of massage as a luxury, not as part of your regular health routine, like exercise, eating well and going to the dentist. But it is. Outside of the general stress relief and relaxation, massages (and acupuncture) are great for sleep problems, anxiety, depression, poor circulation, a weak immune system, etc. Check, check and check. They’ve been practiced for centuries, but once some capitalist figured out how to charge a lot for them, suddenly they’re an elite “treat.” That’s too bad.
I could not believe more in Eastern medicine and its focus on the whole, not just on alleviating the symptoms. Chinese doctors have done me well in the past — someday I’ll tell you the bug tea story (for the three of you who’ve never heard it). I’m not the most consistent or disciplined human being, and that’s somewhat required to fully live out the Eastern philosophy, but on the other hand I’m alarmed when people tell me they take 30 pills a day. Thirty! If that’s the alternative, no thanks.
The first time I ever got a massage, K and I were on a trip to Vermont for leaf-peeping season. Yes, that’s what they really call it. I’d like to say it was a transforming experience, but it wasn’t that memorable. It did break the ice enough that I got a massage every year or so after, when I was on vacation or felt like treating myself to a spa day.
The problem is that every time I go in, the therapists yell at me.
There was the time in Vegas, when she asked me, “what exactly do you do for a living??”
Then the one in Florida who told me that I was supposed to be in pain, because that was my body releasing the tension. Ouch.
And in NYC, when I had to get a massage because I was having tension headaches and not sleeping from the literal pain in my neck (aka work).
Even last week, she said to me,”Wow, how’d you get a knot there?” (It’s not normal to have a tense muscle in your elbow?)
I don’t think it’s a good thing when you surprise the professional.
For some reason, regular doctors don’t prescribe or even recommend massages for general health. That wall between Eastern and Western medicine is still too high — but maybe that’s changing. I read yesterday in the NY Times that doctors are starting to recognize the benefits: “Regimens: Massage Benefits Are More Than Skin Deep.” Hallelujah.
So if you’ve never enjoyed a massage, I highly recommend them — not just to treat yourself, but because they’re necessary.