Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Nathaniel Massage Saga.

It started off innocently enough. But you know it was an interesting night when your husband is passed out next to you, smelling of kukui nut body cream, with a bag of frozen peas precipitously placed over his hamstring.

And no - this is not an R17 post.

During dinner (bison stir fry - lest you were wondering), Nathaniel mentioned tight hamstrings. (Is it awful to admit - that got my attention?) It wasn't bad, he claimed, but his left one in particular had been bothering him all day and he couldn't quite figure out why.

Now in case you were wondering, in the past I've been the Queen of Tight Hamstrings. Seriously. From 2006 through my bike crash in 2008, I dealt with near-constant tightness (but those were mostly the pre-Jen Harrison days when my old coach had me do crazy workouts with crazier amounts of intensity). Those fast-twitch fibers were aggravated, agitated and I began every run with a few timid, precautionary steps.

You know the kind... The I'm not sure if my muscle will work, but I really hope it does because I've got an important track workout in prep for my AAAA+++ priority race just around the corner....please pretty please work without pain or any niggles. (And if you could help me to run :30 per mile faster on my 10k, that would be SUPER.)

Inevitably, my hamstring would seize up, my IT band would revolt and I would writhe in pain on the table while my old massage therapist cracked her knuckles and asked, "Does this hurt?"

Yes. Yes it does hurt.

But through these uber-painful (but effective) massage sessions, I learned A LOT about how the body works, why the muscles feel the way they do, and - most importantly - how to alleviate the tightness/pain.

For the most part, a tennis ball, massage oil and sheer will will get the most stubborn of knots out. Unfortunately, my will isn't that strong, and I'll be the first to book a return trip to the massage therapist to fix what I've so foolishly done.

That being said... I've never been given the opportunity to practice what I've learned through my own painful sessions. Until tonight.

Later on in bed, things got a little more serious. Somewhere between Housewives of NY (yes, I'm ashamed, and no he wasn't watching) and the local news, he suddenly gasped, wrenched the covers up, and vigorously started rubbing his hamstring. Its one thing if YOU yourself are in pain - I can deal with my own stuff...I've dealt with it (in my own capacity) all of my life. But its another thing to see someone else suffering.

Especially when its your husband and he's making what could otherwise be construed as rude gestures under the covers.

So I did the best thing that any wife-who-has-had-previous-hamstring-issues could do. I asked if he wanted a massage.

The look he gave me was classic - The 'This-isn't-happening-but-okay-because-I-love-you - look (as though I was the one getting a treat because I was giving it to him. Humph - men). And then he groaned and rolled over. With his left leg up in the air.

Clearly, the boy has never been to a masseuse.

I told him to lie face-down, head over his side of the bed, with his feet over my end. He looked at me, rubbed the hamstring, and slowly obliged.

Oh boy. We hadn't even gotten to the clothes-removal part - but I wasn't about to tell him now before I started. And yes - I promise this is (mostly) child appropriate. Except for the hairy butt - but that comes later.

I told him to get settled, to relax, and that I was going to take a few investigatory pokes and prods around his hamstring area - just to get a better idea of where it hurt. For which I received (yet another) glare. I swear that he shook his head, but settled down. I was, after all, doing him the favor.

After I few strokes, I noticed his leg tense up and twitch. Overall he was doing a good job, not jumping at every touch. A few more strokes later though, and tense twitch tense twitch tense tense twitch! And then I realized the problems. 1) Leg hair = friction and 2) boxer shorts.

I knew this would be a delicate subject, after all Nathaniel isn't really the nudist type (especially while sporting clothes on the top while his wife massages his leg). And the boy certainly doesn't use body lotions of any sort (even though he complains of dry skin, yet refuses to come within ten feet of ANY sort of topical remedy)... But I knew that in order the get the most effective massage possible, these steps would be necessary.

I took a deep breath and composed myself to the best of my ability. Yes, I have a problem with laughter at the most inappropriate of moments - and one crack, one chuckle - hell, one smile - and all bets were off.



I took that as a sign to proceed.

"Sweetheart? You know - its a little hard to work around your boxer shorts. You know...most massage therapy clients don't wear clothes...the therapist uses sheets to tastefully cover up body parts..."

No response. But he was still breathing; I could see the rise and fall of his back. I knew he was listening.

So I continued.

"Anyway. Listen - I need to flush your hamstring, and that requires my ability to work around your glutes. And for that - it would be, um, better if you removed your shorts."

He raised his eyebrow and I could see the wheels turning.

"But don't worry -" I continued. "I won't try anything. Here, let me get a towel so you can cover yourself up."

And yes, I averted my eyes as he changed (what IS it about guys and getting naked? Seriously - they have NO problem, absolutely none dropping their drawers to do their business. And yes, I realize I just spent a week hiking throughout Northern Arizona - but still...At the first talk of nudist stuff or spa-environments - all bets are off), and then tastefully arranged the towel so I could only see the left butt cheek.

Okay - so the naked part was easy.

The kukui nut body lotion would be a tougher sell. I had to think here...strategy would be my friend. I knew that he felt uncomfortable without any oil, given the amount of tensing and twitching going on with each flushing stroke. I couldn't swear it, but I thought he might be able to crack a walnut between those cheeks. But HE just didn't realize that his leg hair being pulled with each flushing-motion, was the culprit...Maybe if I just applied it without warning? Then he would be stuck -

Its not like he was going anywhere...

Luckily I keep my alba lotions on the bedside table, so they were within easy reach. Goody.

"What are you doing?" he sensed something was amiss.

I had seconds before the smell and the realization combined to hit my husband full force, so without further ado, dropped the entire blob in the middle of his hamstring.

There was a definite twitch. But he said nothing.

Gradually I started massaging his leg, flushing up towards the glues and mimicking what I had felt Shelly and Lisa (past and present) massage therapists do.Thankfully the lotion was helping and I didn't get any comments from the Peanut Gallery. After a few minutes - when his muscle had relaxed a bit and I figured it was ready for the deeper tissue stuff - I applied more pressure.



Okay - too much pressure.

I told him to relax, to breath, and that I would make it all go away.

And yes, I realize that numerous Hollywood films have started - or ended - with similar sentiment.

...And we continued....

In the beginning it wasn't too bad. Just a few more flinches while I worked away. And though I've been married for nearly seven years, there were bits of Nathaniel that I saw for the first time tonight. It made me realize that I should never ever ever have Nathaniel work out knots in my hamstring and tissue flush into my glute.

And I will always hire a professional (who isn't married to me). There are just some things I don't want my Other Half to see or be aware of. I really didn't mind working on him. I just didn't want him to see me! Heck, I don't even like the back of my legs right now - especially since its been, um, well - when was the last time I ran?

With every flush up into the glutes, he seemed to tense more and more. I guess, though, he's just never had the pleasure of his wife rubbing his butt cheeks with kukui nut body cream - enough to make even the manliest of men cringe.

Things reached a peak though, when I pushed my palm into his IT band and slowly worked up his leg. Inch by painful inch, I could hear his muffled gasps. And in spite of my calming words and soothing voice - he was having a hard time maintaining composure. At that point, I think anyone would.

I knew that I was working on borrowed time - so I skipped straight to the Active Release Therapy. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of ART, let my paraphrase: During one session last year, I told my therapist I would rather be giving birth than getting ART.

Luckily Nathaniel didn't know this.

I told him to bend his knee and that everything would be okay. For which I (naturally) earned another glare. But the poor guy was helpless. Half naked, with a towel covering one butt cheek, and smelling like a pina colada. So he bent his knee.

What followed was a series of strokes that I cannot bear to repeat. There was also swearing, visible flinching, and I think I may have drawn a tear (his not mine). I can't be sure. Suffice to say, Nathaniel wasn't a fan of the ART.

At that point, I felt really really sorry for the guy. I finished up with a few easy rubs and tried to make him relax sans deep tissue strokes. It wasn't happening. Instead he had turned over, completely disregarding his lack of clothing, and proceeded to tell me that I was done. D.O.N.E

(But miraculously, his hamstring was feeling not-as-tight).

I took this as a good sign and told him he should probably ice the area, and that it might be a little the morning. And that ice would definitely help. What else could he do but agree? I had already removed his shorts, covered his leg in smelly body lotion - a little ice would be the least of his woes.

And that, my friends - was our night. But don't worry, I won't quit my day job. Massage therapy was never really my thing...unless I was trying to relieve my own tight body parts. At this rate, I would give just about anything for a long run, speed session, 5k or hell - a short run of any sort.

And who knows? Perhaps I will have to call upon the Nathaniel Massage card one of these days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sooner rather than later. Better yet, I'll have my massage therapist at the ready. Yeah, that sounds better. And better for our marriage as well.


ADC said...

Wow, at least you know what to do, I wouldn't have a clue. Hope you guys are OK - I will be thinking of you this weekend.

cherelli said...

Ha! Well done Marit! Sometimes Brett complains of sore muscles and asks me to massage him even though he KNOWS I will dig in and hurt him eventually...obviously he's a believer! I'm interested o hear of N's reaction the next day. Will he be a massage convert? Great post :)

Molly said...

LOL!!!! I tried to massage a tight hamstring on Jeff once and got yelled at for attempting anything remotely deep-tissue (I stuck my elbow in just like my MT does). Oh well...

Angela and David Kidd said...

I'm impressed you knew what to do. When David asks for massages for his tight back I just poke and prod as hard as I can but don't have a clue what I'm doing.

This post also makes me think I need more massages. I never get them.

Kim said...

i read this post on the bus this morning and was laughing aloud :) i think the other commuters thought i was crazy. what a great wife you are!

Alili said...

Oh Marit, you brought me to tears! J has a misfit piriformis, so every once in a while I get a pitiful 'will you rub my butt?' :) I hope Nathaniel appreciated all of your hard work!

Jennifer Harrison said...

You lost me at hairy butt, Marit! LOL....I swear...I am not the best massage person either - you are a saint! :))) hee

Heidi Austin said...

Oh man I had no idea where this was going....sounds like you have mad skills though !!!!

Trigirlpink said...

Pix of Nathaniel's hairy butt or this never happened.