The last time I got a foot massage at that reflexology place across the street, I thought they were going to rip my feet apart.
After a year’s recovery, it’s even worse.
“Relax!” said my foot masseuse, yanking on my toes. His Engish had much improved over last year’s visit when he spoke with exaggerated arm movements, which I thought very well made the point, but even then, sharing common words would aid in our communication and create a more pleasurable experience. This is what I thought.
Going to this place, for a “date” with Chuck was all my idea. I thought it’d be romantic. Let’s get foot massages and then fill our bellies with Indian food from the Bombay Garden next door. I very much liked this idea.
I knew there were risks with the foot massage. Most of the time, I hate them, because for some reason, they bring me terrible pain. Theoretically, my feet should be much stronger now, I reasoned, what with all this running in Vibram Five Fingers, those shoes made famous in Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run. I should be able to take any amount of abuse now.
If you haven’t read Born to Run yet, and if you like running and especially a good story, you should read it. It will knock your shoes off. It will make you think.
Since having switched VFFs, which are really nothing more than flimsy five-toed socks with thin rubber soles to emulate barefoot running, I have noticed that I no longer have the knee pain that had so bothered me in my many attempts to run in the past.
My feet hurt much too soon before I could ever log in enough miles to get knee pain.
The other side to this is that as my feet get stronger, the pain and soreness is subsiding, which is exactly what “the experts” say will happen. It takes months for your muscles and tendons to gain the strength that should have been developed in your feet since childhood, they say. All these years of wearing shoes have made our feet weak and flimsy, the root of most running injuries. Give it time. Be patient. Don’t overdo it.
So, little by little, I’ve been buidling up. I ran 3.5 miles on the track last Tuesday, for example.
So of course, a foot massage would be my reward.
I only gasped a couple of times, and thought the burning sensation in my toes must surely be attributed to the increased blood flow in the metatarsal region. I did my best to relax and breathe into it.
I looked over at Chuck, who was sound asleep in his reclined massage chair, covered in blankets, while his masseuse, we’ll call her Martha, gently ran her fingers down his calves and feet.
His massage looked different than mine. I’ve got to get Martha next time. I’ve just got to.
“Oh my God, this is the best massage I’ve ever had in my life!” Chuck said, in a brief moment of consciousness, before drifting back into his golden slumber
“Relax your feet! What is wrong with you!” said my masseuse. We’ll call him Satan.
“Breathe into it, you little honkey wimp!”
I withheld a tear, and wondered to myself: could it be possible that my feet already are relaxed, and what might appear to be stiffness to the untrained eye and hands might actually be tendons and ligaments that you are ripping apart?
Today’s run on the trails of China Camp was soothing. I felt in communion with nature in my VFF’s, with just the sounds of the birds chirping and my labored breathing and wind through the trees as a background, and occasional brake squeals from mountain bikes.
“Nice, why don’t you just stop right in the direction I’m going, ding dong,” said one mountain biker, headed straight at me for no reason because he had the whole path now, thanks to my efforts to share the trails with a buffoon.
“Why don’t you shut up?” I said.
“Whatever, blah blah blah, blah blah blah,” he said.
“Hey! I’m having a conversation here with nature. Stop interrupting and watch where you’re going.”
“Wah wah wah wah, I own the road, my bike is very expensive, and it has 27 gears, ha!”
“Oh yeah? I’m a cyclist, too, and I have even more gears, so get off your high horse!”
I turned left from the dirt to the pavement, and felt a sharp pain at the base of my toes. I wondered how I would make it back to Chuck’s car, but hobbled along the road.
Hours later, my foot is blue right in front of the second toe.
I am never getting a foot massage again, and I’ve got to come up with better comebacks.