Monday, July 19, 2004

Massage After Three Days of Yoga

The Windup
First, because of past experience with professionals in ski resorts, I was surprised that it was assumed that I would disrobe entirely. Second, except for one ski resort, the massage table was really fine and that was helpful. Third, I'd been working on my breathing for several hours per week for a month and for a few hours a day for three days running. The Masseuse made it clear that using the breath to relax the muscles, just like in yoga, would really help.

The massage lasted an hour. The massage oil was just fine; the masseuse had astoundingly strong hands and was skilled in the manipulation of towels so that if a Chronicle photographer had crept into the room, not much would be exposed. The most amazing event during the massage was the discovery of a cord-like structure in my right trapezius. It was so hard and well defined I thought it must be a misplaced ligament. Instead it was a fairly common formation caused by stress. Fascia bunch up and become much like a small rope, with the
muscles cells forming strands and the fascia forming a wrapping.

The masseuse spent at least 10 minutes trying to break that thing up & had noticeable success. At the end I could still observe it, but it was greatly diminished. As it becomes broken up, my shoulder mobility and comfort should improve. This experience is likely to cause me to seek out more of this level of massage.

After an hour with only a small bit of pain and a substantial feeling of relaxation, I was finished & I headed home.

The Pitch

After yoga, independently of whether the session goes well or poorly, I always have a sense of well being. Its almost like the effect of a great night sleep after hard, but not exhausting exercise. The longer the session lasts, the more fully I experience this well being. [During the time I climbed, I had the same result as long as the route was not physically painful i.e. no cracks!]

  • a great massage following
  • 3 days of 4+ hours of yoga
  • at the end of a 4 week period when I've averaged more than 12 hours per week of yoga,
I expected to feel great.

The Curve
Instead I felt really terrible for about 18 hours. I was unhappy; I was rude to people; I could not accomplish anything; I could not sleep well.

I felt a lot like I was suffering from a hangover. From the standpoint of my spirit, it was worse. I felt poisoned.

Eventually, I felt fine & now I feel just great.

I'd love to talk to someone who really knows physiology and massage for an explanation. The yoga people explain it as 'toxins released from the massage.' Well, OK. What toxins? Where were they? How were they eliminated? Is it possible that something else happens?

Could massage -- especially on an untrained body -- upset the lymphatic system?

Could the opposite happen --- does the lymphatic system not function well in muscles that take the stress, get invigorated by the massage & just have too much work to do all of a sudden?

Inquiring minds want to know!