Need Help Unwinding?

Chuck at his desk. The massage room is the open door on the right.

Chuck at his desk. The massage room is the open door on the right.

I knew I had waited too long even before I was on the massage table. For weeks I had a big knot in the back of my neck.  I grimaced each time I did a jumping front kick in Tae Kwon Do unless I was sparring. While sparring I’m totally in the moment–it is kick or be kicked.

The knot, scientifically known as a myofascial trigger point, was shifting my head to the left so much so that I thought I would be wearing a neck brace soon if I didn’t take care of it.

I called My Serenity and made an appointment with Charles Nowicki, Massage Therapist.

Years ago, I was referred to Chuck by a friend.

Generally, that’s where you find your massage therapist or handyman – through a reference. If someone is working on your house or your body you want them to be someone you trust.

The first question Chuck asked me is if this would be a head to toe massage or neck and shoulders.

I turned my neck, felt the ball of knotted twine. I said, “Let’s start with the neck and shoulders and see how far you get.”

My massage was for ninety minutes. My neck was such a mess, I thought we might not get any further.

After pouring lotion into his palms, Chuck rubbed his hands together. I lay face up on the massage table. He reached under my head and with his thumbs he began working on my taut band of neck muscles. There was a weird rice crispy popping, cracking, and crunching sound as he pulled, rubbed, and stretched my neck muscles. The large knot became smaller and smaller. Then he found new muscle knots.

Muscle knots or “trigger points” are small patches of super contracted muscle fibers. His pressure on my muscle knots was a good pain as he kneaded my neck on both sides by digging his thumbs and fingers, and gently squeezing them together.

I breathed deeply and focused on the knots evaporating under his touch.

Chuck doesn’t advertise his services. You won’t find a website. His clients, from all walks of life, come to him by referrals. He has a home office.

I sat on the couch while Antonio got a massage

I sat on the couch while Antonio got a massage

I brought Antonio when he was 11 years old for a massage. He was complaining about stiffness in his body that wouldn’t go away. I sat on the couch next to the massage table while Chuck worked on him. Antonio has asked to return.

Chuck finished with my neck and moved to other parts of my body–back, arms, palms, fingers, legs, and even the bottom of my feet.

He awakened in me the realization that attached to the bones of the skeletal system are about 700 named muscles that make up roughly half of a person’s body weight. (I’m kidding. I looked that up.)

Chuck is quiet. We don’t talk during the massage. I am happy to be nonverbal and listen to the flute music that he has playing while he locates my knots, applies deep compression until the pain and discomfort dissipates.

There is a faint scent in the air from the massage lotion he uses. Crystel likes to smell me when I come home.

When my ninety minute massage was over, I asked Chuck how much I owed him. “$50.00,” he said.

“Oh, no. I have to give you more than that,” I quickly replied. And then I made my next appointment.


This entry was posted in Health, Massage, Relaxation and tagged , , , by Elizabeth di Grazia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Elizabeth di Grazia

An artist, I follow the nudge inside of me. This nudge led me to write Peace Corps stories, find the front door to the Loft, and to graduate from Hamline’s MFA program. The story that became my thesis for Hamline is woven into my book manuscript: HOUSE OF FIRE: From the Ashes, A Family, a memoir of healing and redemption. It’s a story about family. And a story about love–for my partner Jody and the son and daughter we adopted from Guatemala. Most days, I can be found working as a Human Resource Manager for a foundry in Minneapolis. When I am not at the foundry I may be volunteering as a Police Reserve Officer for Richfield, MN or kicking butt at Kor Am Tae Kwon Do.