I have been going for massages consistently since I started my therapy. Massage not only helps relieve aches and pains, but it reduces the stiffness and tightness that is associated with the spastic element of my spastic deplegia. Massage therapy sometimes hurts and occasionally feels gross – particularly if someone works on my feet – but the benefits are worth what I occasionally have to tolerate. Massage is beneficial to anyone, not just those with disabilities, injuries, illnesses, or pain.
I almost always have a massage after I do pilates. I strengthen my body with pilates and then my therapist stretches me with massage, addressing the weaknesses and problems that she could see during my pilates class, and obliging my requests to work on my tight lower back, sore shoulders, and sluggish stomach. The two forms of therapy complement each other really well, and I leave the studio feeling much better than I did when I arrived.
Occasionally – particularly when I am unwell, very tired, or unhappy – I will ask for two hours of massage (which I refer to as treatment). Massage releases all sorts of emotions along with stress, anxiety, and tension. I find that I often laugh when I get a tummy massage – which makes it difficult for a therapist to treat my stomach – and I cry if, on the day, I am having a hard time or I have tried to suppress emotions and reactions and feelings that massage forces out of me.
Now that I have made massage therapy part of my life, it isn’t something I can just up and stop. I am not dependent on it as a source of pain and stress relief – as evidenced in the fact that I actually haven’t had a massage in about two weeks – but I’ve made it a part of my life as a way of being healthy, like drinking water and choosing to take the stairs. Massage isn’t an indulgence. It’s a necessary part of my practice, healing process, and daily life.