Her warm hands move slowly down my naked back. At first her touch is smooth, but strong. When she reaches the bottom of my spine, she moves my right hip back and forth. She does the same to my left hip then her hands move back to the bottom of my spine.
I'm laying face down on a padded table. There's an open section at the head of the table where my nose and mouth fit comfortably. I'm completely relaxed. There's no strain on my neck or back. She asks me to breathe through my nose and not my mouth.
The room I'm in is quiet and accommodating. "Soft" is the best way to describe this peaceful space. There is a simple wooden table with two shallow wooden bowls on top of it, both filled with colored stones. After I undress, I get up on the padded table and lay down on my stomach. I reach behind me with both hands and pull a sheet and blanket over my lower torso. Then she taps on the door and I tell her I'm all set. She comes into the room, moves to the front of the table, and begins the therapy.
This is not a relaxing massage. This is a therapeutic treatment from a woman whose knowledge of the human anatomy is as complete as any medical school graduate.
Then the pressure begins. I can't tell if it's her palms or fingers manipulating my back because both hands have merged into one. She presses against the muscles on the sides of my shoulder blades then pushes up towards my neck. I feel pain as she passes over a trigger point, a term for a knotted muscle that causes distress in other parts of the body and not necessarily the area where the knot is located. I hear something crack in the back of my neck. The pressure on the trigger point has intensified. I tell her whether it's sharp or soft pain and she adjusts the pressure accordingly. I breathe through it, inhaling and exhaling so she can get muscles and joints to relax. My lower back jerks involuntarily off the table then settles back down. If I tell her it hurts too much, she'll circle the area and then move back into it. This is the essence of deep tissue massage.
Susan Kempf is a licensed deep tissue massage therapist but to me she's far more than that. She's a skilled and caring surgeon who uses her hands instead of a scalpel to treat my injured back. Working in tandem with my physical therapist, she's improved my mobility and eliminated much of the pain and discomfort that's disabled me for the past four months.
If you have back pain and have had X-rays and an MRI to ensure that you haven't slipped a disk, there's no longer any reason for you to suffer. Consult with a physical therapist and do the stretching exercises they recommend. Strengthen the muscles surrounding your injuries and see a deep tissue massage therapist. You'll learn more about freeing yourself from the stress and agony of the pain that’s kept you immobilized, inactive, and a captive inside your own body.