I am more than a big, walking hip flexor.
So says Fanny Mandelberger, with whom I’d booked my birthday massage yesterday. She explained this after I asked her to work solely on my hip and ankle during our one-hour session at The Still Point in Takoma Park.
As a human, I know this whole-person approach is the only real way to approach any sore spot. But as a runner, I sort of just wanted someone to rub my sore spots. I was skeptical.
I shouldn’t have been. Mandelberger, with 25 years of experience, can tell based on where you’re tight and knotty what you do for work, whether you’re right- or left-handed and whether you grind your teeth. She’s a master at honing in on the source of pain, which is often not where the massage recipient thinks it is. She spent a large part of my massage working on my lower back, which I hadn’t realized was such a mess.I also hadn’t realized it would lead to a remarkably pain-free hip, which is maybe the best birthday gift I could have received.
Even the atmosphere of Still Point, located in Old Town Takoma Park, lends to healing, starting with the waiting room, a peaceful, curtained nook with Buddha-themed artwork and complimentary tea.
The healing feeling continued even as I was walking out the door, as Mandelberger offered a few quick words of advice about posture, teeth-grinding and creating calming space in my mind before darting off to her next lucky customer.
Rates at Still Point are reasonable: 30 minutes for $50, 60 minutes for $80, 90 minutes for $115. I don’t know about your household, but that still makes this an occasional treat rather than a regular appointment.
Mandelberger understands this, and recommended a few cheap fixes:
Using a foam roller to work out soreness in tight iliotibial bands. A lot of gyms have these, or you can buy one for about $15 from Sports Authority.
Try miracle Balls: fist-sized balls that help with self-massage for the back. Available at Borders in downtown Silver Spring.
Self-massage with Muscle Massage Balm from Big Dipper Wax Works. The menthol and camphor will soothe sore muscles. The essential oils make it smell more like a cup of chai and less like a hospital, unlike other muscle rubs (ahem, BenGay). Seven bucks will get you a small vat of it, and it’s sold at Still Point.
How do you get your massage fix? Do you have a favorite massage therapist in the area, or a favorite self-massage technique? Let me know by posting a comment.