I experienced a strange sensation of energy during my recent massage
A columnist's usual massage therapy resulted in an unusually strong feeling
I’ve been managing some unusual pain issues over the past few weeks. It’s rare that I don’t feel better after a massage, but two weeks ago, that happened. Even after a few days, my pain wasn’t improving. It felt like I hadn’t even had a massage. I couldn’t figure out why, as I hadn’t done anything particularly taxing that would’ve led to discomfort, but then again, with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, many things don’t make sense.
The only difference was that my massage therapist, Kim, hadn’t focused as much on my upper neck, particularly around my C2 and C3 vertebrae, because other areas were more sore. My cervical spine is often out of alignment, but after Kim works on my neck muscles, I’ll rotate my head and the vertebrae will typically self-correct and pop back into place, relieving much of my pain.
So when I had my most recent massage last week, I definitely wanted to focus more on my neck.
I mentioned in a previous column that I’d been feeling concentric circles of pain radiating out from a point in my back. I could feel the pain pulsing as I lay on the massage table last week, and Kim began to work on my neck muscles. I could feel the ripple all the way down my back. Once she finished and I moved my head around, allowing my neck to self-correct, I immediately felt relief all the way down my back. Clearly, working on my neck needs to be a part of my regular routine!
But when I turned over so Kim could work on my back, I realized that even though my neck self-correcting had taken the edge off my pain, my back muscles were still hypersensitive and sore. Sorting this out definitely wouldn’t be relaxing!
Kim has found that massage cups are more effective than her hands when I’m that reactive. For whatever reason, I can tolerate more from the cups than I can from physical contact.
She began placing cups along my spine and worked her way toward the epicenter of the pain in my middle back. There was a whole row of them, and I could feel my muscles reacting. This generally doesn’t hurt; it just feels odd as the muscles contract and seem to jump around. I started to feel some sort of pressure build up just below where the line of cups ended, and I knew Kim needed to add one more to get everything to release.
I don’t know how I can tell, but I can. The best way I can describe the sensation is that it feels like energy is getting stuck, and I need a cup to open the area up so the energy can pass through freely. Maybe it’s similar to the concept of qi in Eastern medicine. I don’t understand it, but the feeling is very real.
As soon as Kim placed the last cup where I could feel it was needed, the reactions and pulsing in my muscles quieted and I could feel everything relax. Then she could actually work on me and help the muscles finish settling down.
While I’ve had similar experiences many times before, this one was definitely the strongest and most over-the-top. I long ago stopped trying to understand every detail of my body’s reactions, but this experience was definitely one for the books!
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Hi Karen. I have EDS myself and I am a practitioner and teacher of Chinese Medicine (Shiatsu, acupressure, cupping etc) as well as being a massage therapist. The experience that you had was definitely a release of stagnant Qi in the bladder meridian. Cupping is an Asian technique and a powerful way to move energy. I control my symptoms on myself using cups and get a treatment at least twice a month.
Karen Del Vecchio
Hi, Nancy. Thanks for taking the time to reply - that's so neat! I assumed it was something like that, but my massage therapist has never been able to put a name to it. It actually happens rather frequently but at a lower intensity. This was by far the most powerful sensation I've experienced. Now I'll have to do some more digging!
Hi ladies, My son has EDS and I.ve been wondering if acupressure would bring him some relief. We are fairly new to this and have had the pediatrician recommend bike riding and the neurologist claim that headaches are not a part of the symptomology. Most recently the physical therapist decided to have him hold 20lb. weights in each hand while doing lunges. It has been a month and he still can't bear weight on his leg after dislocating his knee. We are in Tacoma Washington if you know of anyone knowledgeable in our area. Thank you for the post.