Body Sense

WINTER | 2015

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Crowder was really nervous, but when she walked into the session room, she was greeted by soft lighting, gentle music, and a warm massage table. "[Phipps] was very kind, and told me to undress as far as I wanted to undress. Then, she left, and I was so relieved. I was afraid she was going to watch me undress." Crowder got situated, lay facedown on the massage table "naked as a jaybird," and waited. "When she came back in, I tensed up, but her magic hands started in and, oh my goodness, I thought I'd melt all over that table. It was wonderful." The therapeutic nature of the work surprised Crowder. "This is something I should have done years ago," she says. "I've been hurting all my life because of the kind of work I've done. She started working on my back, pulling on my shoulder muscles around the base of my neck. I didn't know I hurt that bad, but I wanted her to stay there. Everything she touched felt better. "When she got to the legs—which is my worst part—I said, 'Please go home with me. I'll feed you! I'll look after you!' "Afterward, I could dance out of there. I got up and walked the smoothest since I can't tell you when. Even after I got home, I felt great. Of course, after a while, the aches and pains returned, but I handled 70-pound bales of hay for 40 years, so I can't expect it all to go away with one massage." CLASSIC CONCERNS Crowder's hesitations were typical of any newcomer to massage, let alone an octogenarian. "I have 80 years of indiscretions to try to cover up," she laughs, admitting she didn't want anyone to see her naked. "I didn't feel mentally that I could handle it. I have all these lumps and bumps I don't want people to see." Her physical therapist and another friend who loves massage explained her options: "You can either wear your clothes or not wear your clothes," she explains, "but they highly recommended I not wear my top so that the massage therapist could work my back. All the while, I had all these weird pictures going through my mind, but then I thought 'OK, I'm going to try it.'" In retrospect, she says she felt covered at all times, and Phipps was very professional. "The draping was great—no embarrassment whatsoever—so the months of worrying about this was completely gone from my head." Crowder says her impressions of massage trace back to the movies of the '40s and '50s. "They're getting a massage, and they don't have anything on," she remembers. "I'd rather go through pain than have someone see all my indiscretions." And those film images are difficult to overcome. "Once you've seen Burt Reynolds on the massage table, it's kind of hard to go in for a massage," she admits. "In a couple of the mob movies, the high mucky mucks are getting a massage and that's when they get shot. And you want me to get a massage? Are you kidding me?" REBOOK, PLEASE Crowder is keen for her next session, and she thinks her experience will be even better the second time. "This time, I'll be more conversive with her because it Bonnie Crowder I think what's special about bodywork is that it doesn't matter how old you are; we're here to take care of you. doesn't scare me now. I'm also going to wear something I can take off easier." Afterward, she had the option to tip her therapist, and she was pleased to do so. "Now if I could just get her to play country music." Phipps is looking forward to Crowder's return visit. "I'm just grateful my little piece of the puzzle can make such a difference," she says. "That's really inspiring. I think what's special about bodywork is that it doesn't matter how old you are; we're here to take care of you. That's really the goal—to get you back to where you used to be or close to it, sometimes in an even better situation." In the meantime, Crowder loves spreading the word about the benefits of massage therapy. "Anyone who'll listen, I tell them it's really helped me. Treat the scaredy-cats of the world to a massage, and they'll be in your debt for the rest of their lives." B S As editor-in-chief of Massage & Bodywork magazine, Leslie A. Young is an ambassador for massage therapy.—your resource for all things bodywork 15

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