Written By: Jenean Laroche, Spa Director

This past week I got a massage. Sounds good right? WRONG!  That night I could hardly sleep because of the pain I was in from the massage. Finally I took a few Advil PM and eventually got to sleep.  But I’m here to tell you it was my fault. I did this to myself. But don’t’ worry, this story has a happy ending. Let me explain.

Starting to recover from the 3rd week of a bad cold, my ribs were really hurting because of all the coughing. Being the director of a spa, I thought, heck, I’ll just get one of our great therapists to give me some gentle massage to my ribs to get the circulation and healing going. Easy Peasy. I chose a very experienced therapist who I knew would listen to me and do only what I asked her to do.  Which she did. We worked hand in hand. She worked gently, getting feedback from me throughout the 30 minutes she worked on my thoracic area and ribs. She did absolutely nothing wrong and had I been the massage therapist, I would have done exactly what she did.

So what the heck happened? Why did I feel like S#*!? Duh! I chose the wrong treatment. Directly massaging the overworked and inflamed intercostal muscles of my ribs, even gently, was too much. They needed rest and ease, not pressure, even gentle pressure, applied. As a nurse, massage therapist, personal trainer and director of a wellness center. Why didn’t I know this? The truth is I fell victim to the classic error of choosing the easy default of selecting a Swedish (or deep tissue) massage. Something I’ve seen happen time and again with guests. They’re pretty much good for what ails everybody right?…OOPS. Guess not!

As the bad rib pain eased up over the next few days I started noticing my body. I was hunched over from 3 weeks of coughing. The pain in my ribs really kept me from standing up straight and my shoulders and head had drooped forward. I think this kept me from taking deep breaths which also probably kept my lungs from really flushing fully with oxygen which is what would help them heal. I had learned that massage was not going to help my ribs so I searched our menu. Acupuncture? Chiropractic? What was going to help me heal?

So now comes the happy ending. Considering my many options at SenSpa, I decided to have a Corrective Balancing Session with Muscle Energy Technique.  MET reduces the tone in a hypertonic “tight” muscle, re-establishing its normal resting length or balance, leading to improved postural alignment and restoration of proper biomechanics and functional movement.  This is NOT a massage, but instead working with the body through stretches and active exercises. In the session I started to get relief and by the end of the session I had hardly any pain in my ribs. I went to bed and slept like a baby. A few days later, I still have some discomfort during residual coughing, but I am SOOO much better after just that one session.

But what did I learn from this?  I learned that taking a few minutes to really think about the various forms of alternative healing that are available can make all the difference in the world to the outcome that is being sought. If we get headaches, sure massage will help. But why do we get them? Is there something better that could help them go away? Cranio-sacral therapy, acupuncture, ART? If we are active in sports that gives our body some pain from time to time, sure a deep tissue massage will help, but maybe a thai massage with the assisted stretching would be a better remedy for the weekend athlete who does not spend much time stretching on their own.  Busy over active mind with too much stress? After receiving the Binaural Brainwave Massage, I had the very odd sensation that the therapist had taken my head off my shoulders, shook out all the problems and then put it back on my body. Wow! I don’t even get that clear-headed on vacation. It was really a revelation.

So next time you are thinking about going to a spa or getting a massage, you might want to pause for a second and think- what are my choices? Take a minute to look at the offerings on the website. Be open minded. Talk with staff, tell them what you’d like to get out of a service and ask them for their opinions.