I was raised in a household that mostly followed alternative medicinal practices. We were never rushed to the doctor for a sore throat or a fever. We were made to gargle with salt water and sweat it out. You have an earache? Pulsatilla. Hormonal? Ink of squid. Flu? Oscillococcinum. Naturally, as I aged I had an ingrained sense of distrust in any western medicine and pretty much avoid going to the doctor at all costs.
Luckily, I am young, fit and healthy. Over the last few years, however, I’ve developed chronic pains in my neck and shoulders, knees and ankles. I’m a total oxymoron of a yogi, tight as hell in some places and loose and limber in others. While everything is connected, the problems with my knees and ankles stem from a lack of muscle strength, while my neck and shoulders are the opposite, overly tight (some would say strong) muscles. When you add stress to this mixture, it can tip the scales from manageable body pains to downright terrifying pain.
This summer I suffered a bout of stress and my neck and shoulders seized up so tight that I could not turn my head. I left the chiropractor after my bi-weekly routine session and got into the car and cried my eyes out wondering why my body just wouldn’t function the way it was meant to. During that particular session, my chiropractor said to me, “you’re so stressed out, what on earth is wrong?” Before I could say anything, she prescribed me a bottle of wine and said, “you need to drink more.”
Now I know she was kidding, but it was a particularly low moment for my physical well being to be told by a doctor that my only relief would be the bottle.
A few weeks later a friend of mine recommended a massage therapist in Sayville, Pete. He runs a business called Massage Rx, and he has been changing lives with his hands for decades. Pete. Changed. My. Life.
I went in to see Pete for the first time crippled in pain and even more skeptical than ever that someone could help me out. He sized me up from the moment I walked in the door and called me out for my pelvic tilt, my protruding head and my clenched jaw. He could see the physical raise of my left shoulder that was keeping from turning my head, and he told me that he could help.
I layed down on the table, and and hour and a half of curse words and tears later I had my body aligned properly for the first time in months. Over the course of the next few weeks and months I began to make seeing Pete a part of my personal maintenance regime.
So today as I layed on his table, I fully surrendered to the pain. At one point I said to him, “It feels so good, and it hurts so bad.” Which is when he told me about therapeutic pain. That thought stuck in my head for the rest of the session as he nearly broke my jaw off in his hand massaging out years of clenching. The pain was searing hot, but I knew that it would be worth it for the ability to chew a bagel tomorrow.
What’s more, I really like the idea of therapeutic pain on a grander scale. We often run from things because we fear the pain they will bring to us. That bottle of wine prescribed by my chiropractor is such an example. Health, whether it be physical, mental or emotional health, has a price and it is usually painful–the kind that hurts so good, not the kind that creates scar tissue and further trauma. We have to face the things that we know are going to be tough head on because our health is our true wealth.
Today I am eternally grateful for my massage with Pete at Massage Rx. It is the perfect way to reset my body so that I can continue forth on my journey, and it is a wonderful reminder of the benefits that self-care can have on our overall health.
I encourage everyone to find some form of therapeutic pain today. It might be a meditation that brings up a lot of emotional blocks needing to be released or a massage to reduce stress. It could be a session with a therapist or a particularly sweaty thigh burning session on the dance floor. It does not matter. Whatever it is that helps you through your day with more ease, do it now. Do not wait! And always remember, that it must hurt so good!