Last week I was subjected to a torture session masquerading as physiotherapy, to help treat yet another sport-related ailment (see ‘Eye eye captain‘, ‘Going head to head‘ and ‘A toe-curling tale‘). This time it’s a condition called plantar fasciitis, which, if you’re not familiar with or had the misfortune to suffer from it, results in pain in the heel when any weight is put on it. If you’ve ever had it, you’ll know how unpleasant it is. If you haven’t, I’m sure you can imagine that it is, to say the least, a mite inconvenient, as it makes walking, let alone running, painful. I’ve had it for several months and it would appear that the root cause isn’t actually a problem with my foot, but a long-standing (no pun intended) problem with the calf muscles in my right leg (see ‘Fit for nothing‘). The treatment involves deep tissue massage of said muscles, which is also thoroughly unpleasant, so I’ll spare you the details. It did, however, remind me of an experience I had a couple of years ago, while on an overseas business trip, so I thought I’d write about that instead.
It was one of the few occasions when Mrs Oz has accompanied me on my travels, but I needed some admin assistance and she was the obvious choice. The night before we were to return home, Mrs Oz suggested that I should have a massage in the hotel spa – a suggestion to which I readily agreed. I had, after all, had a busy few days and, therefore, clearly deserved a bit of pampering. And anyway, Mrs Oz had booked one for herself and fair’s fair.
Mrs Oz went for the Balinese massage with lots of scented oils and girlie stuff. I, on the other hand, plumped for the altogether more macho Sport Body Massage. To be fair, the massage menu did mention that it included “deep tissue remedial massage techniques” but, consummate athlete that I am, and being no stranger to sports massages, I knew what I was letting myself in for. Or so I thought. This one, however, surpassed all expectations.
The first issue I had to get to grips with was the pants. I’m referring here to the garments that we Brits, as distinct from what our transatlantic cousins, amongst others, call pants. And I use the word pants only in the loosest sense. I was given a robe and a pair of what I can only describe as “special pants” to put on before entering the massage room. They looked fairly innocent in their polythene wrapper, but it soon became apparent that they were made of a material not unlike that used for making onion bags, only black rather than the more traditional orange. And brief doesn’t adequately describe them. They left precisely nothing to the imagination. So I gingerly entered the treatment room with my robe tightly secured, removing it as quickly as possible, while the masseuse was looking the other way, before clambering awkwardly onto the massage table, thankfully face down.
I now know why they call it a treatment room. Because treatment is exactly what I got. It was brutal. A previous blog mentioned a sports massage during which the masseuse used her elbows (see ‘Water, water everywhere (part 2)‘). This one wasn’t that gentle. She started off by working her way up the backs of my legs using her knees! I kid you not – she actually crawled up my legs on her knees. Then, having mashed my calves and hamstrings to a pulp, she moved on to my back. It was excruciating.
After about ten minutes of this I was ready to talk, or to sign whatever confession she put in front of me. The trouble was I couldn’t actually talk, as she was simultaneously squeezing the air out of my lungs and squashing my forehead and neck into that face-hole that you get in massage tables, so hard that speech wasn’t actually an option.
She completed her journey and I heaved, or, more accurately, whimpered, a sigh of relief. Then I realised that this was only the first pass, as she returned to the start and repeated the process.
Eventually, part one was over and she turned me over to attack my front. I had a brief panic attack as the special pants came back to mind, but at least she had the decency to spare my blushes, and probably her giggles, by blocking her view with a towel. As it turned out, part two wasn’t quite as bad as part one, as she only used her hands – although this did include her fists – from that point on. I did, however, think she’d re-broken the toe I’d broken a couple of years previously (see ‘A toe-curling tale’) during the somewhat unexpected digit-tugging part of the procedure. Thankfully, she hadn’t. And I guess I should also be thankful that she didn’t get the pliers out and have a go at my toe or fingernails while she was at it.
After what seemed like an eternity, my ordeal ended and I dragged my battered body into the shower, after which her colleague made me a cup of tea (the old good cop, bad cop routine) before presenting me with the bill.
Firstly, it’s important to do some analysis, so we understand the issues we’re trying to address, and the associated dependencies and connections, before we leap into implementing our strategies, solutions and plans. Had my heel problem just been treated as such, and the underlying cause not identified, it’s doubtful that the treatment would be fully effective.
Secondly, we should do our homework and make sure we understand exactly what we’re getting from the product or service we’re thinking of investing in. No matter how glossy the brochure is, you can’t beat speaking to someone who’s had first hand experience – assuming, of course, that they survived that experience!
There are undoubtedly people around who like, and are willing to pay good money, to be humiliated and have the living daylights beaten out of them. And, as long as it’s not hurting anyone (other than themselves, obviously) then who am I to judge? All I’d say is, if that’s not what floats your particular boat, beware phrases like “deep tissue remedial massage techniques”. You might also want to check the dress code!
Related article : ‘It depends‘
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Andy Osborne (known as Oz to friends and colleagues) is the Consultancy Director at Acumen, a consultancy practice specialising in business continuity and risk management.
Andy is the author of the books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management’, ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ and ‘Ski Boots and Celery – A Compilation of Oz’s Business Continuity Blogs’, as well as his popular blogs and ‘Tips of the Month’, all of which aim to demystify the subjects of business continuity and risk management and make them more accessible to people who live in the real world.
You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyatAcumen and link with him on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andyosborneatacumen