Monday, February 6, 2012


Indentured Masseurs

"People within families can learn to massage each other. If you can teach parents to massage kids, couples to massage each other. This can be cost effective."
—And that's actually not the most unexpectedly ... off part of this article on the science of massage and healing. Well, maybe it is, but there's also a bit where they cut chunks from men's legs. Anyway, the family that massages together, etc. (Is the least popular family on the block, without question.)

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I almost called this "strangely disturbing" except I guess being disturbed by it isn't strange at all. Strange idea, strange phrasing, whole strange thing.

@itmakesmewonder I know that the U.S. has a culture that's weird about touch but really... I kind of never want to be massaged by a family member. Ew.


@itmakesmewonder My reaction was definitely along the lines of "NONONONONONO!!"


@S. Elizabeth Full-body massage is definitely off the table, but it was pretty normal in most families I knew for intrafamilial shoulder/hand rubs to occur.


@itmakesmewonder I don't know. I am actually much less comfortable at the prospect of being touched by a stranger. Then again, I grew up giving and getting back massages to/from my mom, and now my honey and I give each other back rubs all the time. I've had professional massages, and it's always been an incredibly awkward experience.


@D.@twitter They're recommending massage as an alternative to an anti-inflammatory drug for post-exercise muscle soreness, so the implication is that more than a backrub is involved here. And yes, in that case I'd strongly prefer a qualified professional with established boundaries. You feel awkward with a professional, so . . . You'd feel less awkward with your parents?

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@wharrgarbl Yeah, isn't this how all families spend their weeknights?


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me

Ha! Nice. I don't know that anybody went quite that far with it, but even my very non-touchy family did not shy away from shoulder-rubs. I literally cannot remember the last time my mother and I hugged, but we still do shoulder-rubs.

kate sweet@twitter

@itmakesmewonder Life is short,We always need passions!
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Porn Peddler

Especially if you include that crazy boob-slapping/massage enlargement technique and now I really wish I could remember where I saw footage of that (literally SLAPPING ARGH MY MY RECENTLY PMS-BOOBS WANT TO CRY AT THE THOUGHT)


@Third Wave Housewife Yikes! What? My grandma was once employed, in her career as a nutritionist, by a rich woman to literally take a rolling pin to her flab. Weird, insane vanity trends are eternal, I guess.

fondue with cheddar

@Third Wave Housewife WHAT? What is this boob-slapping thing?!

Sorry For Partying

@Third Wave Housewife You just compelled me to conjure this up from the googles:

fondue with cheddar

@Sorry For Partying After four treatments, the woman's face appears slimmer, her cheekbones and chin more pronounced.

Also, her nose got narrower and longer and it changed the shape of her skull! Amazing!

I never thought I'd say this, but this article is terrible even by Daily Mail's standards.


I had a few days off last week, and I got a massage. OMG, awesome. I did not, however, get a massage from a family member.

Porn Peddler

@Ophelia I wish I could enjoy a massage, they always sound so wonderful and magical and blissful, but I am a raging grouch (read: I might have some People Issues) and HAAAAATE people touching me. I don't know if it's because he's bad at it or because I can't stand the focused, intense contact, but I can't even deal with Mister trying to rub my back/feet. But I get so sore! :(


@Third Wave Housewife I can only deal with "massages" if they're super gentle. So more like a caress than a massage, I guess. And feet are 100% off limits. (Except my hands. Loove me some deep-tissue hand massages.)


@Third Wave Housewife I get overstimulated pretty easily and I have a hard time letting go. Whenever I get a massage we play the "I'm going to wiggle your arm until you can prove you've really relaxed it" game for half of it.

Porn Peddler

@parallel-lines Oh man, I just came up with a solution: what if I took some xanax and had a massage? (just kidding, any amount of xanax at all is an immediate happy tranquilizer for me.)


@Third Wave Housewife I can happily handle fully-clothed massages from people I know, but unfortunately I can never get a professional massage because I'm a nevernude. I will remove clothing for sexual partners and for doctors, but for NO ONE ELSE, and consequently my puritanical body tenses up at the mere idea of walking into a spa or massage place.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Ahh, I spent enough time swimming/lifeguarding that I don't really mind being nakedish with strangers (when your work uniform is a speedo, there goes all modesty), and sometimes I just need someone to take an elbow to the knots in my back. But I'm not willing to shell out for a massage unless its going to WORK.

Porn Peddler

@werewolfbarmitzvah I would not call myself a nevernude because being naked is great, I love being naked in my house, but ugh, doctors can fuck off. I'm pretty sure I almost yelled at the last doctor who asked if I wanted a "full-body check" when I had specifically gone in to have one, tiny, visible thing checked. I was, at best, very curt.


@tortietabbie AGH! FEEEET! Do not touch my feet! I have an EXTREMELY hard time getting pedicures and I have to warn people not to put their fingers between my toes because it triggers some sort of kicking reflex. The callus scraping part is the WORST, I am twitching the whole time...


@werewolfbarmitzvah This is not a paid commercial announcement, I promise, but if you are in DC go to Lunar Massage -- it is cheapish, they massage you through your clothes, no nakedness required or suggested, they are agressively anti-spa in tone although the place smells nice and is low-lit and nicely decorated, and when I went there and stood up after I almost fell down again, I was so dizzy and pulsating with life and whatnot -- I understand that "toxins" are NOT REAL" but you would swear they just massage all the "toxins" right out of you. All the awakeness as well. Ask for Shawna! Or whatever her name was, I was in a massage haze after so I might have gotten it wrong.


@queenofbithynia OMG, I have been there! You are very right!

Faintly Macabre

@Third Wave Housewife Ugh, same. And last year, my team got the captains...certificates for a fancy massage!

However, I somehow did not have issues with my old physical therapist. I guess because it was medical, or because she was a. super-nice and cheery and b. mostly dealt with really old people, so I knew my body/problems were probably a bit of a relief.


I'm having flashbacks to my childhood.

Mom: Honey, come on, rub my back.
Little me: Moooooooooooom stop.


@tortietabbie My childhood:

Mom: I'll give you a pony/$20/permission to do that thing I said you couldn't do
Me: OK, great (rubs back). Well, where's my reward?
Mom: Oh, that was just the pain talking. Maybe next time.


@tortietabbie Haha, I grew up India and every time I smell mustard, I flash back to being periodically grabbed, stripped naked and having mustard oil intensively rubbed all over me.


My family barely HUGS, and when they do it's the back patting kinda hugs. This makes me very uncomfortable.

raised amongst catalogs

@parallel-lines In my family, we prefer to touch one another only with sarcasm.

@parallel-lines You know in Arrested Development when Lucille tries to hug Michael and he's confused? That's my family sometimes.


@S. Elizabeth
Why are you squeezing me with your body?

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@S. Elizabeth "What is this? What's happening?"


@parallel-lines Wasps?


@LooseBaggyMonster The only wasps in rural Minnesota are the ones that build a nest in your garage and have to be swatted down with a broom.

Lila Fowler

Family massage is still really common in parts of Asia and Polynesia. My Polynesian mom grew up walking on her grandma's back every night to crack her spine. Now, I live in Korea where my co-workers give their parents massages every night and families are all up on each other at the jimjjbang(bathhouse). I'm definitely not bringing family bathing back with me to the States, but I can't really see family massage as a weird or gross trend?

Porn Peddler

@fusion I don't habitually read xojane, but there was a really interesting conversation going on in the comments section of one article about varying levels of comfort with nudity. I was pretty damn surprised. One girl reported frequently having conversations around the house, with her mom, during which one or both of them might be stark naked (I mean come on, I can't even live in the same house as my mom)


@fusion I don't really get the "ew" reaction either - my sisters and I used to rub/walk on our mother's back when we were young. It doesn't seem that weird to me, and we're not a particularly affectionate family.

I am still really good at back rubs (although I do not like receiving them).


@fusion I don't think it's weird, especially the spine-cracking back walk.
Also, my sisters and I give each other massages and there's nothing weird or sexual about it. I've also done it with friends.
And I'd probably give my dad a back rub if his back was sore, but that doesn't mean it would be the same sort of massage I'd give a boyfriend.
But since everyone here seems to think it's really weird, now I feel kinda like a massage slut.


@Third Wave Housewife My parents were very nudity-friendly when I was a kid (coshowering and all that) to an age where they thought I wouldn't remember (I do!) and then partially nude after that. My reaction to this as an adult has been to wear clothing ALL THE TIME. I even have a weird sleepwalking thing where if I go to bed naked I'll get up in the middle of the night and put something on.


@NeenerNeener Agreed. I think the key difference is how you said back rub versus massage. It's more therapeutic than sensual and I'm not weirded out by it.


@NeenerNeener "There was a girl at my prom who was known as the 'back ho.' Mary Dunbar. She'd let anyone massage her back."

Lily Rowan

Yeah, I've massaged my grandmother's back, and have gotten massages from lovers (who could have ended up as spouses, right?) and neither of those seems weird to me.


@MeghanElizabeth Ditto. And I'm all for massages from my husband - indentured massage is ok with me on that front. It's just that I see a few different types of massage options, and I'm not willing to share all of them with my parents/siblings.


What does nudity have to do with massages? (Unless shoulder and foot nudity are nudity.)


@parallel-lines I grew up in a nude house, but it was a functional nude house. By that I mean, people would often be naked to and from the shower, or if it was very hot we would be in some state of undress. But even though I've slept naked for years, I would always put on something if I wasn't going straight to the shower. No standing around nude, talking.

But I feel like I'm more Thingy about it than a lot of people, as an adult, because I had to overtly learn that some people's lines for this are waaaay before mine. As long as you make it easy for me to not look, I'm fine with it.

wasabi peas

Methinks Buster Bluth is responsible for this.

@wasabi peas Heyyyy, hermano.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@wasabi peas I'm a monster!!!!!


@itmakesmewonder My reaction was definitely along the lines of "NONONONONONO!!"

Daisy Razor

Most of the relaxation I get from massages comes from the fact that they take place somewhere my family isn't.

Nic Knack

I seriously wish I could get a back massage from my mother every day. Granted, its not a full body massage or anything like that, and she is a physical therapist with magic hands. I'm talking MAGIC HANDS. I'll rent her out?

Also, there was that summer when I was twelve and stumbled upon her 1970s massage books. So much body hair and nudity. I learned the quickest part of the full body massage before leaving for sleep away camp, which was a face massage. Suffice to say I was very popular at camp that year.


@Nic Knack Ohhhh, I have a good friend who is a physical therapist. No one wants to ask her for back rubs on her day off, but I'm not above strategically lurking within reach, just in case she's willing to employ her magical hands for my benefit.


@Ophelia I have a friend who's a massage therapist. If you want to be her friend forever, reach over and pinch her trapezius a bit. No one massages the masseuse.

Nic Knack

@Ophelia Its true. It's the unwritten code. The only time i ever actually asked her for one was when I had shoulder problems from swimming.


My family is not touchy at all. It's a very keep your hands to yourself, weirdo, situation. BUT. My grandmother's huge extended family is so so so touchy (and talky). They are just all over you, all the time. My great aunts always used to rub my back and at first I was like uh, what? but after I got used to human contact, it was nice, you know?


My dad always used to try to give me these shoulder massages, but they were terrible because he used a LOT of pressure, and I was a kid so I was not stressed out or tense at all. So I would always run away because OW DAD THAT HURTS STOP STOP STOP OW. And for the longest time I was always like "I don't understand why people like massages! They hurt and are stupid."

He finally got the message and stopped doing it right before I got old enough/stressed enough to actually want a massage.


I have a friend whose aunt is a masseuse and for every special occasion gives him a gift certificate to her spa to get a free massage from her and her only. Needless to say, he never takes her up on her multiple(!) offers, and has a hard time explaining to his parents why this makes him uncomfortable.


What's needless to say about it?


@Tulletilsynet Ahhh needless to say is kind of a useless phrase. He's uncomfortable going to a professional spa getting a massage from his aunt. I have no idea how he feels about it in the comfort of his own home, but something about going to her work place makes him feel icky about it.

H.E. Ladypants

My mom, my sister and I have been rubbing the knots out of each other's backs for years. (We all carry stress in our backs.) I'm really confused why this would be considered weird.


@H.E. Ladypants yeah my mom and sister too. They'd sit on the couch and take turns while watching PBS Mystery! I didn't really partake because I was, for many years, the smelly sweaty younger brother who couldn't sit still. But I always considered it a healthy and endearing thing they did.


Eh, my parents trained me to massage their shoulders when I was a kid, and I still do it whenever I see them. We all carry our stress in our shoulders. My dad was in the hospital for an extended time a while back, and was extremely uncomfortable, so I gave him shoulder massages 2-3 times a day. It was incredibly rewarding for me - I couldn't help him medically, but I could help him relax and take away a tiny bit of his pain. In fact, it was so rewarding that I'm now applying to school to become a massage therapist, and my mother (who lives 600 miles away) is pricing massage tables for her house so I can practice on her when I visit.

There's nothing weird or sexual about it - I think it's weirder and grosser to just assume that giving a relative a massage is sexual in any way. I get that some people might not be comfortable with it, which is cool, but that doesn't mean people who are comfortable with it are weird.


Zap, culture shock! I thought all kids rubbed their dads' backs. Is it my age or my class?

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Tulletilsynet I rubbed my mom's shoulders ALL THE TIME as a kid. She never EVER rubbed mine. I just thought it was one of those things parents, well... indentured their kids to do. It does surprise me that all these people are talking about it going both ways, though!


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me
The whole family would pitch in and rub my dad's shoulders when he came home "with every muscle sore," like it says in the song. I was the one who got really good at it! And now, decades later, I learn that that's what's made me such an old weirdo.


Yeah, my family always gives each other shoulder rubs. It's not a massage, like, lay down on a table let me grab some massage oil (because, gross), but fully clothed shoulder rubs while one of you sits on the couch? What's the problem with that?


@hodgmina Mine too. I don't get why people are freaked out about it?


The youngsters here do seem sincerely disgusted by rubbing muscles within the family unit.


@Tulletilsynet I'm only 25, and I don't get it either.


@hodgmina A fully clothed shoulder rub is not what they're talking about. The study is on legs and its intention is to prove something about workout recovery in the whole body. No, I wouldn't want my relatives massaging my legs or even most of my torso besides the shoulders and arms.


You clicked the link and read the article. Cheater.


Except ... now I did read it and wow, that is some pretty low-voltage rubdown action.


@itmakesmewonder I was more responding to the comments that seemed freaked out about any physical contact with a family member whatsoever. I can understand not wanting it to go much beyond back/shoulders/arms.


@Tulletilsynet Somehow, 'rubbing muscles within the family unit' sounds... gross. Just me?


I work with massage therapists every day, and read this study last week (one of the researchers emailed us an early copy). It's great.
But I just want to point out that while it's possible to get some of the benefits of healing touch/massage from someone who just knows the basics, there is a big difference between that and a real massage from a fully trained professional. The training standards in the US are pretty low, and vary by state, but a good massage therapist should have hundreds of hours of training, including a strong grounding in anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Just sayin'!

fondue with cheddar

My boyfriend's mother is a chiropractor, and he learned a lot of massage techniques and knowledge of the muscles from her. Which is AWESOME because my neck/shoulders/back are really screwed up and I'm knotted and tense all the time and have pain often. I love him dearly and he's the best partner ever, but if he weren't I might seriously consider staying with him just for the massages because they are GOLDEN.


@jen325 My boyfriend learnt basic massage because his ex had a bunch of chronic illnesses and it helped. The night I brought him home with me, we watched a movie and he gave me a footrub. KEEPER. He likes to have something to do with his hands when he watches tv. I'm thinking I might need to catch me up on some media!

I carry tension in my neck, but also my physio basically told me I am 'twisted'. And apparently I carry anger tension in my butt muscles. GREAT.

fondue with cheddar

@Craftastrophies Wow, I totally posted a comment here but it didn't go through. Something about how you're lucky that your boyfriend has massage skills and likes to use them. Foot rubs are the best! Mine likes to rub my feet while we watch TV, too.

You carry tension in your butt muscles? I can't even imagine what that feels like because all my tension is in my upper body. Your butt must be a rock! My boyfriend says I have neck/shoulder muscles like a male athlete due to my upper body issues, which I find funny because I'm just about the least athletic person I know.

Oh, and you're definitely twisted. But that's why I like you. :)


@jen325 It's... uncomfortable. Right now I am at my desk, sitting on a wheatpack. I feel like maybe I shouldn't admit that on the internet, but come to think of it, we are WAY past that line in these comments. :D

fondue with cheddar

@Craftastrophies A wheatpack? I'd never heard of this before now. Tell me about wheatpacks!

You need a butt massage. I love butt massages, and my butt isn't as tense as yours so I can only imagine how it must feel for you.

Yeah, lots of us have crossed that line. It's so easy to feel safe here that it's hard to remember sometimes that it is The Internet and there are People.


@jen325 Oh my lord, I can't believe I missed that! I don't often read the open threads because they happen early Saturday morning for me, and by the time I get to them there are a bajillion comments, and I try to stay off the computer too much on the weekends. But argh! And also, all of the hugs. You are an amazing lady.

I feel so safe and sheltered in the comments here, that I forget that anyone can read them. But then Blue Milk linked to a thread I commented on lots, and some of my IRL life friends read that, and know my moniker, and I freaked a little. I try not to talk about anything I wouldn't want someone else overhearing, but it's hard to find that line, sometimes. Especially when I talk about, say, my ex, who also knows my moniker. But it's my story too, so fuck it!

A wheatpack is just a rectangular bag with wheat or barley in it. You put it in the microwave and then it's warm and good for sore muscles. You can get shoulder shaped ones, but for years mine was just some rice in a sock that I draped over my one sore shoulder. I call it my 'warm'. As in 'shit, where did I put my warm? Sweetie, have you seen my warm?'. I have one for home and one for the office, which is also good for when the air conditioner goes mental, so I have something warm on my lap.

Butt massages are amazing, but I only let my partner do it because it is so tense it makes me all squirmy and shouty, which is... embarrassing. I'm also all tense up the sides of my torso atm. I am demanding a proper massage this weekend.


This entire thread is making me really miss this girl I knew in high school/college who gave the most AWESOME/insane back massages--I carry most of my stress between my shoulder blades and have pretty much constant knots/pain there and she would beat the crap out of those knots. (This may not be the best protocol with those things, and it hurt like hell, but good pain, right?)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher This is how I try to explain kinkiness to vanilla people. It's good pain, like a deep tissue massage. (Note: I don't generally like actual pain. It hurts. But I'm down with the concept, bascially.)

fondue with cheddar

@Craftastrophies OOH, deep tissue massages are the best. I have knots in the same place, and when someone really works them it's incredible. I wholeheartedly agree that beating the crap out of them is the best solution. :)

When someone first gives me a massage (regular people, not professionals), they usually start out gentle because they're afraid to hurt me. They think that because I'm petite I'm a delicate flower. I always have to tell them that if it doesn't hurt it's not even worth it, at which point massage unfortunately becomes a whole lot less fun for them. Except for my current boyfriend, who better understands what my problems are and enjoys making me feel good. And he has strong hands to boot!


I have given and received back massages from friends, my boyfriend, my mom, my boyfriend's mom (who is a massage therapist), and people I just met that day. I also used to walk on my dad's back when I was smaller, which I thought was both fun and weird and I fell off a lot.
Anything other than back/shoulders I usually reserve for my guy, and our massages involve a lot less clothing. But just because you *can* do something sexiliy doesn't mean that it is inherently sexy. Like wrestling.


As a massage therapist, I understand that a lot of people have touch issues, but I just want to emphasize that professional massage is NONSEXUAL. A body is a body is a body; it's an amazingly complex formation of bones, muscles, and connective tissues that can become less-than-healthy, and it's my job to help support the health of those tissues as best I can so you can begin to relax, relieve pain, and heal.

Also, massage does not have to be unclothed, if it makes you uncomfortable. While I try my best to educate my clients that it is easiest/produces the best results to have as few layers of clothing between me and the muscles as possible, I'd rather you be clothes and comfortable, than unclothed and so tense that I can't manipulate your muscles at all.


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