Good Graces

All the years of my life have never brought me to any real understanding of how anybody could possibly have the desire to run. Despite my experience doing athletics when I was in school, this conundrum is no less clear to me. Just because I did it doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. Horses, horses I can understand. With their beautiful shining coats and flowing tails. Watching all of that move can make it hard to look away. Maybe I would want to run too if I could look that glamorous doing it. But that is definitely not how I feel while I’m doing it. Running is purely for emergencies in my books. Any other time this has been forced on me it feels like nothing but pain, uncomfortable amounts of sweat, exhaustion and brutality as each footfall brings the weight of my ancestors’ expectations down like a hammer on my knees and ankles against the anvil of the road, my shin soon screaming in a riot of protest against this most profane task, my lungs delivering nothing but burning disdain for my very existence. So that’s a hard no on all running activities from me.

For many though, it’s their favourite thing to do in the day. Which can hardly be believed but it’s true! Some even go to the lengths to say it is something they feel incomplete without. Go figure. Looking at it objectively though, it makes sense if you look at what running does for your body. My body clearly never got this particular memo but the truth is that exercise has proved time and time again to have many health benefits and this particular one – running – is no exception.

Being an aerobic exercise, it releases endorphins, which are the body’s own personal pain relief and feel good hormones which aid in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Especially considering the lifestyle’s we lead, such problems are becoming more and more prevalent and the need to spend time on our mental health is becoming more and more important. Though personally I’d rather have a massage to achieve this than go for a run, I can’t deny the positive effect exercise has on these issues.

Other positive effects of running include strengthening the heart and lungs, increased muscle strength and bone density and the potential to assist in achieving weight loss goals among others. With all that in mind you’d think that running as a choice would be something I would understand. But alas, no. I’m still left thinking, “How can that be fun? Just why?”. I guess this is one of life’s many mysteries.

So when I meet a client who finds actual enjoyment in this and who one can only imagine looks utterly fabulous while doing it, I can’t help but be struck by a sense of awe that such a thing and such a person could be possible. But so it is with Grace. Well dressed, super pretty (I know these things are subjective but I would challenge anybody to be able to say otherwise) and with a mani/pedi to make even the most nonchalant tomboy jealous: one can only wonder if maybe she is secretly a unicorn because I’ve never really met a person so akin to being made of rainbows.

After telling me a little about herself and what she goes with her time (which is running if you haven’t yet guessed), her troubles were deemed nonspecific and really I was called out for a common reason why many people seek massage therapists– a need for relaxation. Cue my treasure hunt for any as yet unnoticed niggles wherever I might find them while going about the business of doing everything in my power to have Grace achieve her relaxation aim for the session.

Running certainly is a great way to look after your body but like most forms of strenuous physical activity that we do which puts stress and pressure on our bodies, there is potential to experience some slightly less positive results. Massage can help address most exercise related issues. A common one for runners is a tight iliotibial tract which can cause greater wear and tear to the cartilage of the knees over time which could later down the line be a contributing factor in arthritis. Often runners find this area sensitive when their massage therapist works on it and I’ve come across some who half climb off the therapy bed. But the benefits of loosening it up far outweigh any discomfort and the relief thereafter makes it well worthwhile. Other areas I have found to be common sources of discomfort to runners are their shins – shin splints are very unpleasant.

True to form Grace showed some sensitivity in both these areas. I would have liked to use some Fire and Ice Massage techniques on her shins but unfortunately that’s not what I was there for today and so the recommendation to use those techniques next time should she like a repeat visit would have to suffice.

My work was done and me quite satisfied that the aims for the session were achieved as I left Grace a good deal more sleepy and chilled out than when I first arrived. I said my goodbyes and made my way to the car in wonderment once again at how such a poised lady could make running of all things seem like such an elegant and preferable thing to do. A new lesson to add to my collection of life’s pearls of wisdom.

It is not what you do which makes you classy, rather it’s how you do it.

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