“How’s the pressure?” asks Rick, owner and Head Torture Technician at Russ Medical and Sport Massage Clinic in Beaver, as he digs into what feels like a grapefruit-sized knot in my upper back.
“Guh…” I manage to grunt in response, my face buried within the padded head rest of the massage table.
What’s funny is I’m actually paying for this.
I’ve had back issues for as long as I can remember. I actually recall being in grade school and my teacher telling me to sit up as I slouched in my chair, my back muscles week even then. But then of course the bell would ring and we’d be off to lunch or to the gym, bouncing all over the place as kids do, and everything would be fine.
Things didn’t really become unbearable until after sometime after college, when boring desk job after boring desk job (around a dozen in all) found me hunched over a computer all day with little or no movement. Years of this sedentary (and rather depressing) lifestyle, combined with the usual stresses of adulthood, have transformed my back into a twisted tangle of knots and tightness that has me in a constant state of pain and discomfort.
Hence my always pleasant disposition.
It was this perpetual state of discomfort that first led me to the ancient art of massage. As with most people, I was reluctant to try it at first. Quite honestly, I was intimidated by the idea of peeling off my clothes in some dimly lit room and allowing some stranger to put their hands all over me. I mean, I’m not in college anymore.
But eventually, upon the recommendation of my wife and others, I decided to give massage a whirl, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. It’s truly been a godsend for my back issues.
I’ve really only had one bad massage experience over the years, and that one was my fault. We were on our honeymoon in Cancun, and my wife thought it would be romantic to go to the spa together. I was dealing with some awful sinus bug I caught on the flight down (nice, right?), and I really should’ve just stayed back at the hotel. But then again, I didn’t want to spoil the mood. So, despite my better judgment, I agreed to the massage. Of course, as soon as I was facedown on the table, my sinuses began to slowly drain out all over the floor below me. My Mexican masseuse didn’t speak English, and I didn’t know how to say “Kleenex” in Spanish, so I just let it go. Literally. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most relaxing massage I’ve ever had.
But other than the legendary Mucous Massage, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences on the table. The only problem now is, Rick and his team have pretty much ruined massage for me anywhere else I go. Not because other therapists don’t know what they’re doing. It’s just that the good folks at Russ Medical and Sport Massage are especially good at bringing the pain.
The good kind of pain, that is.
The first thing Rick does when I come in is examine my posture, which usually resembles that of Quasimodo. In an instant he can recognize if I’m leaning a particular way or if my feet are flayed out or if my one shoulder is higher than the other.
“Hmmm…yes…” he begins, a fiendish smile growing on his face. “Well, sir, it looks like your medial-collateral flexitoids (I made that up) are abnormally tight. Your posterior latissimudes (me again) are all out of whack, too. But don’t worry, we’ll get you fixed up good as new!”
And by that he means that he’s going to beat the you-know-what out of me. But again, in a good way.
Despite my lousy attempt to replicate Rick’s vast knowledge of human muscular anatomy (see above), he and his team really do know what they’re talking about. They’ve taught me a lot over the years, and they always surprise me when they discover tightness or soreness in a muscle I didn’t even know I had. They put the “deep” in deep-tissue massage.
And I’m constantly amazed when I tell Rick my back hurts and he makes it better by manipulating a completely unrelated area. Like my pinky toe. As Rick likes to say: it’s all connected.
My hour on the table always flies by, and I find myself wishing I had another hour (or three) of therapy to go. But I usually change my mind later on in the day, after the endorphins wear off and suddenly I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.
Hit by a truck in a good way, that is. ~
Copyright © 2015 Valentine J. Brkich