Listen to all, plucking a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely. ~Chinese ProverbHave you ever had a really great massage that leaves you feeling fabulous for days? That's because it fixed something that was tweaked - muscles, fascia or energy. My first massage was from Madonna's massage therapist. Susan was a friend of a friend, and though I felt good, I didn't feel amazing. Maybe because I was new to massage and it made me a little nervous. Still, I kept hearing that massage is amazing for your health so I kept trying. Since then, I've gotten massages around the world from Hungary to Cambodia. I've had some great ones (the best ever was by my surf instructor Kim) and lots of mediocre ones. But in the last two years, I've found an amazing massage therapist who is priced right so I try to go every other week.
Massage is an ancient form of therapy that has been around for thousands of years. Today it is recommended by doctors, and can be reimbursed by insurance. It can help relieve pain, increase immunity, reduce stress, improve your energy flow and leave you feeling more energetic and relaxed. The benefits of a few treatments can last up to a year, according to Partap Khalsa, PhD at the National Institutes of Health.
There are many different types of massage, but they spring from two "schools" or modalities - western and eastern. Western massage (e.g. Swedish, deep tissue, sports) is more focused on the body, and Eastern techniques tend to be more physically vigorous and focused on improving energy flow (e.g. shiatsu, acupressure, tui na). I started out getting fancy spa massages in Western modalities. They were very relaxing, and always left me feeling heavy and ready for a big nap. The effects never seemed to last - the next day it was back to usual.
Then a couple years ago, a friend recommended shiatsu at Fishion in NYC Chinatown. It was different in all ways. It was extremely painful - nothing relaxing about it. I could barely take it. But 2/3 of the way through, I realized that my body felt light. When I got up, I felt light and energetic, and this amazing feeling lasted for days. The massage actually felt therapeutic - almost medicinal. The actual facilities were bare bones - the private "rooms" weren't really rooms, rolls of paper towels subbed as cushions, and there was no aromatherapy. You could hear the person next door. It didn't faze me since I was all about the massage, and the lack of decor contributes to the very reasonable price ($40/hour). I tried out different massage therapists and found three that are absolutely amazing that I recommend to everyone: Jessica (my regular therapist), Janet and Fang. If you're in NYC, Fishion is at 107 Mott Street. Make sure to tip your therapist well for the magic she/he provides.
What to do - Get a Massage
- Find a great massage therapist. Massage is only as good as the person giving it. Ask for recommendations, or go online and read reviews for different places. Try different massage therapists until you find one that works wonders for you.
- Get a series of massages. To get better value, you can sometimes prepay for a series of sessions. Ask. If you're looking for more affordable massages, you can try a local massage school.
- Once you find a massage therapist, note how you feel before and after the massage. Be mindful of the effects.
- First timer? Relax. Let the massage therapist know. You can undress to your undershorts or be fully naked as you will be under a sheet. If you are doing acupressure or shiatsu, you can wear a t-shirt and shorts if you would like.
- Try self-massage. You can always give yourself spot relief (see the link below).
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What I ate: large vegetable juice, 1 pint blueberries, 1 coffee, hardboiled egg, whole wheat pasta + tomatoes + basic + olive oil + garlic, salmon, Mindful Mix (macadamias, almonds, walnuts, goji berries, cranberries), dried mangos, 6 vegetable dumplings, Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip cookie dough ice cream (bad but it's super hot out!), 40 oz. water
Exercise: jogged 4 miles