Well, there's lots to discuss concerning the massage I had this afternoon, so brace yourselves, I might get long-winded here.
To start with, this masseuse is also a physical therapist and she's a runner/cyclist herself and does some training on top of all that; this is why she's so popular with the group and is recommended by the running store -- she's like a 3 stop shop. When I arrived, she first had me do a series of different exercises so she could see how my knees and hips aligned and worked: the exercises told her several things about my physiology and my current injury.
1. I have good balance. (When I told my husband this, he laughed aloud. She meant I have good balance on one foot -- I am excellent at tree pose, for example -- and I am very capable of one-legged dips and squats. She's never seen me fall down, so her assessment of my balance didn't take forward motion into consideration.)
2. I am incredibly flexible. (This comes from years of yoga -- both what I do at home and what I've done in years of classes.)
3. I am well-aligned. (Nothing is leaning or tilting one way or another when I walk or do the exercises, so I'm pretty neutral and centered which means nothing really needs correcting in terms of my gait.)
So those were the good things. The bad things? Well...
1. I am VERY tight in my left hip and glut. (Thus, the pain in the left knee. As we runners know, where you hurt is not where the problem is -- the problem always begins elsewhere.)
2. I am weak in both my hips, but especially weak in my left hip. I also have some gluteal weakness.
3. I am compensating for hip/butt weakness by relying on my lower back and my hamstrings. Therefore, some of the IT strain begins in my lower back. (I have a really strong lower back and a lot of flexibility in my spine -- see, I can easily do back bending poses in yoga, either way, doesn't matter: camel, wheel, bridge, my back easily bends each way, so it didn't come as a big surprise that I perhaps rely on my strength there to make up for my apparently flabby butt and jelly hips.)
So, she showed me a variety of leg lifts to help strengthen my hips, especially, and she also showed me some stretches to help with the IT band. She also told me that after the marathon, I should really consider some strength training for my all the muscle groups in my upper legs. After that PT session, she then gave me the massage and paid particular attention to the legs.
Now, whenever I get a massage, I think of that episode of "Friends" when Phoebe bites the butt of her client and I always hope that the masseuse won't do the same to me; however, after being informed that I have weak gluts, I assume she wasn't tempted to bite into them!
Anyway, like all other masseuses (plural? "massuesi"?), she was surprised by the knots in my neck, shoulders, and back, and asked me a series of questions about my stress level and my job. Seriously, I don't think of myself as a stressed out person, but I guess I internalize all my anxiety and store it in my back b/c I ALWAYS have knots and tension there. But, the masseuse said she wasn't gonna focus on that today -- today was all about the legs.
Definitely tight in the outside of both hips, also tight in the butt (strange how my butt is both weak and tight, hmmmm...). The massage felt good at times, painful at other times, and relaxing at other points, but I could definitely feel some things loosen up. Surprisingly, I was also tight on the inside of my right leg and in the tendon of my left foot (which goes back to the foot pain I experienced about 3 months ago).
So, an hour and a half after I got there, I was standing there talking with her while her dog licked my leg (she has shop set up in her home) and I was feeling good, relaxed, and loose. And honestly? I also felt greatly encouraged. She was very positive about the steps to take so that I could successfully run Chicago in 3 weeks, and she asked that I email her tomorrow after my run to let her know how things feel. I have an appointment to go back next week and may even try to squeeze in another one right before we depart for the windy city.
We'll see if I'm sore at all tomorrow, but I honestly don't think I will be -- the massage was good and deep but she also took the time to really ease into that and then after massaging deep in my legs, she stretched them -- so I think the muscles got exactly what they needed. All in all, it was a great experience and I hope it sets the tone for the week ahead of me.
Ahhh...now, I'm gonna watch some movies; TNT is having some kind of vampire and zombie movie marathon, so I think I'll watch Blade 3 (my favorite one b/c it has Ryan Reynolds, grrrr...) and then Resident Evil. I do like my monsters!