Friday, March 30, 2007

the great rubdown

I post comments all the time on other people's blogs about how they need to be kind to themselves and treat themselves well, but I don't seem to manage to take my own advice until I'm in serious pain.

For the last couple of days, I have been traveling by car and not getting a lot of sleep. I was already having some running-related discomfort in my hip but the car trips sent me over the edge of uncomfortable into painful. I woke up yesterday feeling achy all over. I had the brains to sleep in and not try to exercise yesterday, which oddly enough is a bit of a breakthrough for me. I called to schedule a massage, which is something I have been talking about for three or four weeks. Luckily for me, there was an opening yesterday afternoon.

If you have never had a professional massage, you need to stop reading for a minute and call and make yourself an appointment. Believe me, it's not the same as having your boyfriend rub your shoulders. Go ahead, look in the yellow pages under Massage Therapy or ask a friend for a recommendation. I'll wait.....

Massage is the most decadent thing you can possibly do for under $100. I have had massages by several different therapists and this one was so wonderful that I got tears in my eyes while she was rubbing my calves. We had a long talk about what kinds of things I had been doing that contributed to the pain I was in, but she was very understanding and I didn't get the sense that I was being lectured about my tendency to go for runs but not bother to stretch.

Having someone talk to me about it really made me see that I really am hard on myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I expect my body to take too much abuse and don't care for it properly, just because it happens to be a few pounds heavier than I want it to be. I won't do things that sound fun or relaxing because I should be working on my dissertation, but instead of actually working on it I waste time looking at job postings and message boards or reading Google News. I think that I should be able to handle any crisis that comes my way with a stiff upper lip. And I wonder why my body gets so tight that it ends up hurt.

I'm not saying that I want to give up on all my goals, I just want to watch for when I'm crossing the line from productive into punishing. I have to stop worrying about my dissertation and actually write it. I have to stop worrying about jobs and just apply for them. I have to stop working out like an insane person and do things that actually promote fitness and health. I keep having to relearn this lesson.

Yesterday the massage therapist said, "I want to work on that left leg, but let's take care of the right leg first so it doesn't think it has to hurt itself to get attention." I think that is what I need to do for myself -- take care of my mind and body before I start thinking I have to hurt myself before I can take the time for some self-care.


  1. Good post - true of most of us - I would guess.

    I hope I can write this so that you can see it.

    In yoga yesterday - we tractioned each other - Yoga Barbara suggested that I get a PVC pipe and do this at home on a regular basis.

    3/4" PVC about 2' long

    we were on our bellies on the floor on padding - arms straight out in front of us on floor.

    PVC in our grasp - palms down toward floor. Toes close together - heels slightly out - legs touching. TOTALLY relaxed from the waste down - no gripping with anything - especially butt.

    Two partners SLOWLY raised the PVC pipe - pulling it toward them and away from us at the same time that they went up.

    We had to hang on TIGHT and remember to relax lower body. They continued until they were standing straight up - with their arms down in front of them - holding PVC pipe tightly - the person on the floor's upper body was "up" that high.

    So again - they were tractioning us toward them and up at the same time.

    I got a piece of PVC pipe and tried this with my son - who could lift me easily by himself - in class we had to work in two's. We could have gotten each other up by ourselves - but we held them up for a LONG time - and that is hard work.

    Some people were so flexible and young that their holders had bent elbows and had to hold the pipe up closer to the standing/lifters chests - hard to hold it up there.

    Once we got used to being up and got control of relaxing our bottom half - then we worked on opening chest and pulling shoulders together in the back - gently.

    What this does to opening chest and stretching spine and working those impossible to work places in the arm pit/side area was fantastic.

  2. Your massage sounds wonderful - you found a good therapist who knows about more than just muscles. I am 100% in your corner about the value of professional massage, something most of us never do or only do when we are in too much pain. I try to get them regularly to really listen to my body and what it's telling me, sometimes only through the voice of the therapist.

    You work very hard on your life, your mind, and your body. Be kind to all of them :)

  3. I'm a big fan of massages, and used to get them occasionally. I haven't had one in years, however, mostly due to financial reasons. I can't see justifying spending so much money on myself. Yet I'll spend tons of money on shoes because of my foot pain. I suppose it's justifiable because shoes are tangible. I need to get past the fact that while I may walk away from a massage empty-handed, I'll still walk away feeling rejeuvenated and refreshed. I see things like shoes as a necessity, whereas I view massages (and even a trip to the salon for hair and brows) somewhat indulgent. I need to get over it and start treating myself well! I do work out hard, and I should treat myself to a massage to give my body (and my mind) what it deserves. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. thought of two more clarifications:
    hands are about shoulder width apart on the PVC and your head stays in between your arms - not hanging - that way your neck stays as an extension of your backbone.

  5. You inspire me to try to get a sports massage in this weekend.

    While yoga may have something to do with flexing the muscles that are hampering us with pain, I don't get how the pvc pipe exercise relates to this post on self-kindness & preventing self-injury...

  6. I think you're supposed to use the PVC pipe to beat up people who try to suggest that a massage is frivolous.

  7. So, Jen. Did you make another appointment with your massage therapist before you left the facility? I'm sure you do that with your hairdresser ... sounds like this experience is definitely worth repeating on a regular basis!

  8. I did, Debbi, for three weeks later. I am going to try to make this an at-least monthly indulgence as long as I can afford it.

  9. LA Librarian7:00 PM

    "it's not the same as having your boyfriend rub your shoulders." Unless...your boyfriend is a massage therapist! I actually am dating a (part time) massage therapist...I may be the luckiest woman in the known universe. Sigh. He'd agree, though, that the therapeutic value of massages are invaluable for body, mind, and spirit. Jen, good for you for taking GOOD care of yourself and realizing that you don't have to hurt yourself in any way to do that. Keep it up.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07