Saturday, June 7, 2008


The massage therapist, F, has discovered the cause of the shoulder problem. Tight pectorals. Those of you who read Dale's blog will know that he addressed this condition recently and I'm here to tell you that he was spot on. The pain is in the right upper quadrant of the back, spreading over the shoulder to the right arm. The range of movement of this arm was becoming increasingly limited and I was getting far too accustomed to permanent discomfort.

Lo and behold the pectoral muscles on my right side are contracted and as tight as piano wire. At the end of an excruciating but wonderful session I sit on the couch, legs dangling, wrapped in thick white towels. F kneels behind me and pushes his knee into my thoracic area at the same time pulling the shoulders. This is how you need to sit, he says. Keep those shoulders back. Do yoga. Do the Camel. The Locust. When you are standing, don't fold your arms in front of you. Give yourself regular massages where the pectoral muscle joins the sternum. And I always thought I had good posture.

Deep tissue massage with a male therapist seemed the path to take because I sensed the problem needed some heavy-duty physical work. F is good. He looks to be in his thirties, a bit shorter than me, chunky. In addition to skill and strength he possesses the gift of making his female clients feel safe. Open and friendly but everything strictly appropriate. There's more work to be done, and possibly some ultrasound, but I am encouraged.

Of course there are twinges of guilt and even shame to go along with the physical ache: this shouldn't be happening to me as an (occasional) massage practitioner. I shouldn't have been this neglectful of my own body. Oh well. But it has to be admitted, an unbeatable way to understand in depth the working of the individual muscles is to develop a problem or two yourself. A gold standard Anatomy & Physiology refresher course, you could say.

The title of Dale's post also strikes me as significant. Opening the heartspace.


The sun is high in the sky: the golden days of summer are here.


Zhoen said...

Consistency is not really a human trait. I have my own work to do, that I don't do.

When the patient needs it, the healer appears. The smart patient pays attention.

Dale said...

Oh, thanks for the links! I know, now that I'm writing about massage and body mechanics I'm always realizing with a guilty start how often I let things go that I really should be working with.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've found out what's causing it, and how to work on it. Dale's piece, and now yours, are a reminder to me to sit up straighter.

Sky said...

great to hear your body is healing! :)

mm said...

Thanks all for the encouragement. Much appreciated.

Tarakuanyin: Shoulders back :-)

leslee said...

Yes, so easy to get into that position - the modern condition, hunching over computers, etc. My yoga instructor did a whole session focusing on the shoulder blades - pulling the bottom inside edges together, the outer upper edges away from each other, the inner upper edges up towards the head, like a fountain... Have to keep reminding myself. Very prone to upper back issues, and sometimes a knot in the pectorals to go with it.