Why Massage Therapy? (Part 1)

Back a few years (we won't discuss just exactly how many, thankyouverymuch), I was a senior at the University of Michigan, practicing diligently for the final trumpet recital of my Bachelor of Arts. I was living in a little apartment on Church Street that reminded me of the cottage my grandparents used to have on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, largely because it was entirely paneled in knotty pine.

One day, I was going about my business at that little apartment, when something in my back let go. To this day, I'm really not sure what it was, but I can tell you this: I felt like I'd been shot. Fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes, unable to breathe. I lay there for a while (an hour? two?) trying to find a position where I could eek out enough breath to keep going. I was so very puzzled!

Sooner or later, I was able to get up, but I had to be very careful about my movements. At the time, my option for healthcare was University Health Services, and they kindly gave me a bunch of muscle relaxants, powerful painkillers, cortisone shots and such. Western approaches masked the pain for long enough that my body was able to bounce back (I was 22, of course I bounced!)

A few years later, I was working a stressful desk job at my first of several "high tech" jobs, and still doing what I could to manage my chronic low and mid-back pain using western approaches. My friend Dave suggested I try a chiropractor (what's that?) and so I went. And bless him, Dr. Thatcher did what he could, but the real reveal in all that came when he prescribed massage therapy.

This was the 90s, and I was living in a (what was by west coast standards) conservative midwestern town. Initially, the idea of massage therapy was a bit unusual to me, but I was game to give it a try. That LMT, Renee Rutz, was the first person who ever mentioned the notion that perhaps my diet was effecting my body's ability to recover from physical trauma. It was a notion that was both a) probably technically outside her scope of practice and b) critical to the success of her treatment.

Renee suggested that there were typically three main culprits in the arena of diet: dairy, wheat and yeast. She encouraged me to try eliminating one of them, the easiest (and most obviously difficult to digest) was dairy. After a bit of cajoling, I decided to do it. The next day, I quit dairy cold turkey. Over the next few treatments, the difficult spots in my back softened up, and I was able to begin my recovery in earnest.

Fast forward several years (we won't specify just how many, exactly!) and I was deep in a quest for my next career move after a good long while selling technological geegaws. Next time I write, I'll tell you a bit more about that transition.