I sat on the couch for two days straight as Winter Storm Walda pounded South Dakota. Twenty inches of snow later, the town finally re-opened its doors. I couldn’t wait to cure my cabin fever and stiff body by pampering myself with a deep tissue massage.
I was looking forward to a relaxing experience that would get my circulation flowing again. Instead, I came home feeling even more stressed and sore.
During the 90-minute massage, I asked the masseuse to focus on my back, neck and legs, which felt particularly knotted. She consented, but when she started working those areas, her pressure was light as a feather. When I spoke up, she didn’t change the pressure, just changed her technique — asking me to turn my head back and forth as she tugged my limbs, shaking them up and down.
“Good job!” she cooed every few minutes. “The tension and pain are flowing right out of your muscles! Good work!”
“Good job?” I wondered. Why should a massage require any work on my part?
What bothered me the most was her heavy breathing. Her long, deep, throaty inhalations lasted throughout the entire 90-minute massage. They distracted me so much that I thought she was either having a heart attack or an orgasm.
I kept thinking, “What the hell is going on?,” rather than enjoying the moment. When her strange routine finally ceased, I leaped up from the massage table to get dressed. To my horror, I realized I could barely see my reflection as I looked into her mirror — my eyes were incredibly blurry. I blindly drove to a coffee shop down the road to calm down. Luckily, my eyesight slowly returned to normal within the hour, as I sipped on a green tea latte and stewed over the fact that I spent $90 on a horrible massage.
According to my optometrist sister-in-law, there are a few potential reasons my eyes blurred post-massage. She said it could have been due to the massage’s effect on my body’s autonomic nervous system — which is the nervous system that regulates involuntary actions such as heart beating or narrowing of the blood vessels. She also thought I could have experienced a change in the shape of my corneas from pressing my face into the massage table for over an hour. “Either one could cause a temporary change in your vision,” she said.
The day after my massage, my body felt more stiff and sore than before I had gone in. Multiple sources say it is completely normal to feel sore after a deep tissue massage, as the muscles have gotten a workout. My post-massage pain felt concentrated in my back, as if someone had just pounded it with a hammer — which struck me as peculiar, since her pressure had been so light.
I definitely won’t be going back to that massage therapist any time soon — and I know I will be having multiple bath dates with soothing Epsom salts in my near future.