Oh, I know I shouldn't complain. There are harder ways to earn a living than journalism. I could be a coal miner, for example. Or an air-traffic controller. Or Elizabeth Taylor's divorce lawyer. Or President Dubya's English teacher.
But this past week, my job soared to new peaks of difficulty, hardship and, yes, horror.
My assignment: In four days, visit four different Payson-based massage therapists, and endure five consecutive head-to-toe, deep-rub, muscle-melting, stress-eliminating, elation-inducing massages.
Oh, sure, it probably sounds like some cushy piece of cake to you. But you're not considering the great personal sacrifices I had to make in order to pull off this herculean feat.
These massages were each one hour in duration. That's four full hours I could have been sitting at my desk, pretending to work while goofing around on the Internet.
And those four hours don't even include drive time, undressing time, dressing time, and the very relaxed naps I took in my car before returning to the office to pretend like I had just been through pure torture.
You see, when you're a professional journalist like me, you sacrifice for your readers. Period. That's just the way it is. So you owe me one. Big time.
The history and benefits of massage
OK, here's where we get serious (for a few paragraphs, anyway) and maybe even educational, thanks to the combined information provided to me by the five massage therapists who now know more about some parts of my body than many of my ex-girlfriends:
Carole LaValley of My Chiropractor; Sandra Montbleau of A Simple Touch; Shannon Garman James of To Massage or Knot; and a therapist at Payson Therapeutic Massage Center and Day Spa who preferred to remain anonymous for the purposes of this article, probably because she fell under the mistaken impression that I would somehow embarrass her. (She is far from the first female I've met who has fallen under that mistaken impression.)
Therapeutic massage, all of these professionals say, is a form of hands-on health care that's been practiced throughout time. It can be found in all major civilizations, past and present from the ancient Greek gymnasia and Roman baths to modern day spas and health clubs.
Through the test of time, massage has been recognized for countless health-enhancing benefits. The healing systems of many cultures, including our own, use hands-on therapy to soothe aches and pains and to assist the facilitation of the body's own healing abilities.
From infancy to old age, massage has been found to enhance general health and well-being.
Scientific studies at hospitals and universities are currently validating these claims. In addition to the commonly known benefits of relaxation, improved circulation, and relief of muscle tension, new applications for therapeutic massage are surfacing in areas related to mental and emotional well-being, infant care, aging, and other specific illnesses and diseases. Exciting new discoveries link touch in general, and therapeutic massage in particular, to improved immune system function.
Therapeutic massage has many applications and variations. Because it is used for health promotion as well as for its curative powers, it can truthfully be said as Carole LaValley told me "If you have a body, you will benefit from receiving massage therapy."
My personal massage therapy ordeal
As you can easily imagine, after four hours within four consecutive days of massage, I was a complete wreck.
My muscles were as tight as Jell-O. I couldn't even pick up a cup of coffee.
I overslept every morning following a massage, which not only got me to work late but also seriously cut into my desk-napping time.
The wonderful women who had worked me over so relentlessly found muscle knots the size of a large eggplant in nearly every area of my person and kneaded them down to nothing so my clothes no longer fit me properly.
And I was so relaxed that I couldn't focus on my deadlines. This story, for instance, was due last October.
My life, in other words, is in ruin.
And I plan to revisit my four massage therapists as soon as is humanly possible so I'll quit stressing about it.
All of the Payson massage therapists mentioned in this article offer their service in time increments of 30, 60 and 90 minutes, with prices ranging from $25 to $70. While it is not the purpose of this story to compare their styles, techniques or effectiveness in any way, shape or form, each of them would on the scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being "absolutely fabulous" receive a 12.6. If we were going to compare them. Which we aren't.
Each therapist, too, provides many other related services, including myotherapy, deep relaxation, reflexology and aromatherapy.
My Chiropractor 405 S. Beeline Highway, Suite D, Payson. Phone: 474-0442
A Simple Touch 407 W. Frontier St., Payson. Telephone: 468-6743
Payson Therapeutic Massage center and Day Spa 616 S. Beeline Highway Suite 106, Payson. Telephone: 474-6621
To Massage or Knot In The New Ewe, 212 W. Main St., Payson. Telephone: 474-1497