In which I pay for pain – and enjoy it

I have a confession: I have fallen in lust. Mainly when I’m face down and only wearing my undies and a towel. With my head in a hole. And my socks still on. I’m painting a pretty attractive picture right now, don’t you agree? Yeah, I thought so. Rewind to 8.15pm tonight and I’ll tell you the story of how I came to be in the almost buff with a stranger. Actually, we need to go back further than that. We need to go back a couple of weeks when I ran my very 1st 10k distance with Caroline by the Leeds canal. It was a brilliant run – until I got back and had a blinding migraine coupled with extremely sore right neck muscles.

The pain has been on and off ever since and having spoken to several people they all said the same thing. A sports massage would be the only thing to get the kinks out. So I did my usual list making, called a couple of  people and eventually made an appointment with a local sports massage place in town. Happily, it has been tipping it down for the last 48 hours so naturally I turned up in sweats and wellies, completing the outfit with my duffel coat and golf umbrella. Oh yes, I was dressed for the weather and not to impress – which was a good thing really otherwise I’d have turned up and had to wring my hair out (with age comes wisdom. Dry will trump stylish every time). I meet the massage therapist – we’ll call him Tom – and I babble about the wellies, the coat, the weather…anything really. Smooth.

Massage - soothing, calming and totally not what happened tonight.

We chat briefly about what bits of me need work and he instructs me to “get ready”. Now I realise I’ll need to shed the thread but for a split second I panic – how many layers to shed? Trousers obviously seeing as my right hamstring was one of the areas up for torture. Thank god I wore the nice knickers – the newer ones vs. the older ones. OK, so I’m not there to flash the pants but it does help ones self-esteem if nice pants are worn. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the rule. The jumper goes too and the t-shirt. And there is the issue. Bra on or off? I went for on (better to be over dressed than under right?) and hopped up on the bed, covered up with the towel as instructed. Turns out less is most definitely more. Next time if the shoulders and neck need work, ditch the bra.

So, he goes to work. I’m lying face down, with my head in the aforementioned hole, covered in a towel and hands by my head. Bra has been undone (after asking) and the hands of doom/pleasure go in for the kill. If I didn’t know better I swear he was actually trying to tear my head off. But now my neck is being pulled and pushed and tweaked and pummeled and held and stroked…and all the time I’m having to try really hard not to shout. I fail, by the way. I swear and tell him that “bloody hurts – hold it there”. Yes, you read that right, he tells me to tell him when it hurts…and then he waits on that sore spot and counts. To 10. And then another 5. And all the time I am breathing like I’m about to go into labour, I’m sweating and occasionally I have to tell him that what he’s doing is too painful. My neck is ravaged and on fire. Tom apologises profusely but carries on – a bizarre combination of pain and the pleasant “ping” when the muscle gives in to the pressure. The kill zone appears to be my back – the trapezius to be exact. Turns out mine is just being plain stubborn. Cue more pressure, more ow-ing and more “Wait, there. Yep, right where your thumb is….ooooowwwwwwwww” “sorry” “ooohhhh that’s better”.

This is what a sports massage feels like

My neck and shoulders done, he moves south. No. Not that kind of south. My right hip and hamstring are the next in line for the punishment and Tom does not disappoint. Towel half covering me, knickers shifted (with permission) and shin propped on a pillow, he goes in for the kill. And kill he does. As I’m lying there, face down and gripping onto the bed trying not to flinch away from the unrelenting pressure from Tom’s hands, I’m struck with a realisation – I’m paying for pain and in some weird masochistic way, enjoying it. Paying for being almost butt naked, bruised and near to tears. I must be mad – especially as I’m going back for more next week. Apparently I get to have extra stretches next week in addition to more deep tissue treatments. Lucky me.

Tom finishes up, covers me up and lets me get dressed. We arrange next week’s appointment and I’m advised not to run for at least 2 days – sanctioned rest, my favourite type. I leave floating on slightly painful air, feeling slightly drunk and slightly out of kilter. It hits me as I’m walking home. I feel like I should have bought him a drink or dinner. Not sure that is the correct masseur/client relationship though – I’ll stick to telling him what he wants to hear “yes, right there. Now hold it”.

I'm sure you're not supposed to look like this after a massage

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