Soothing Massage Or Aching Back: An Introvert’s Dilemma

massage pic

See that gift certificate? I got it for Christmas 2012. That’s right, fifteen months ago. I still haven’t used it.


Because while I relish the thought of a soothing massage, I cringe at the notion of a stranger’s touch.

Tractionmassage (2)

Click to enlarge


It’s well known massage offers a myriad of health benefits:

  • Stress reduction
  • Pain and muscle tension relief
  • Disease management:
    • Anxiety
    • Headaches
    • Insomnia
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Sports injuries

I know this.

I preach this.

And yet I don’t receive this.

Every time I consider scheduling an appointment, I picture nudity, vulnerable prone positioning, and unfamiliar hands.

Even worse, I picture the need for small talk while I’m trying to relax. My own internal oxymoron.

What Was I Thinking?

Several years ago during my one and only trip to Hawaii, I got so caught up in leis, luaus, and palm trees, I lost all sense of myself and booked a massage in the hotel spa. My masseur was to be a man named Akoni and the event was to occur the following afternoon.

For the rest of the day, I fretted. I fussed. I fidgeted my aching back.

Finally, I called and canceled. The image of a handsome Akoni rubbing my muscles while Israel Kamakawiwoʻole crooned “Somewhere over the Rainbow” in the background was simply too much to bear.

Image of the late Israel Kamakawiwoʻole from

Image of the late Israel Kamakawiwoʻole from

Hopeless, I know.

Occasionally, Mr. Rubin massages my back while watching TV, but his therapy is minimally effective. You see, an indirect relationship exists between his muscle kneading and the level of television action. As the excitement ratchets up, his rubbing trickles off, until soon it grinds to a halt. Then, like a rat in a cage, I wait breathlessly for the next pellet to fall.

Hmm, maybe I should redeem that gift certificate after all…

Do you get massages? Can you convince me it won’t be that bad?

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Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of The Seneca Scourgea medical thriller. For full bio, click here.

332 Responses to “Soothing Massage Or Aching Back: An Introvert’s Dilemma”

  1. melaniegobledvm

    I am also an introvert. That being said, I LOVE MASSAGES!! With the exception of my acupuncturist who was training to do massage as well when I was in vet school, I have only had females perform the massages (similar to I will only see a female doctor for pelvic exams, etc – it just seems weird to me although I know it shouldn’t). I would evaluate what you are getting the massage for. Most of mine have been related to physical therapy, but not all. Hot stone massages are good for me, as are deep tissue, but they are not for everyone. Good luck and I hope you go for it, because it is worth it!


    • Carrie Rubin

      I was just thinking today that I have to schedule that appointment. After posting this entry, I mentioned in the comments that April would be the month of my massage. Oops, I’m running out of time…

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    At least you got as far as booking the massage! I have never done that. SAme thing: strangers. Nudity. Oh my.

    But at physical therapy – required for that same back – the therapist, with whom I already have a relationship, massaged only the lumbar region (no actual nudity involved), and it was very, very nice.

    I may reconsider.


    • Carrie Rubin

      Well, I actually haven’t booked it yet, but it’s on my agenda for this month. Considering April is almost over, I suppose I should get moving on it…

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject!


  3. Lady Fancifull

    Carrie any massage practitioner worth his or her salt will put you at the centre of the session. I would NEVER go to a practitioner who chatted – any half way decent practitioner will also understand the anxiety about touch by a stranger and it is good practice to encourage a potential client to phone up and have a brief chat with the practitioner-to-be so that the client can get some idea of the practitioner’s approach and personality. YOU are the one who should be put in control of the session, and (sounding like a cracked record here) any decent practitioner observes this and should be a member of an appropriate professional association. The associations have LOTS to say about ethics and guidelines. many practitioners work with clients who for many reasons may be uncomfortable to remove their clothing. Or of course there are treatments like shiatsu where clothes don’t need to be removed at all!

    I’ve always loved massage – but like to get some idea of the nature and personality of the practitioner – sometimes just looking at their publicity material or website will give you a good idea about what sort of person they may be, if they work within a clinic who does the booking themselves so that you can’t phone them up first.

    If its a more open ended massage voucher, ask around and see if anyone you know has massages, and if they can recommend a practitioner – and WHY they are recommending that practitioner, that might give you some idea how that practitioner works


    • Carrie Rubin

      Thanks so much for the suggestions. I appreciate that! I’m much more informed now that I posted this. So grateful for everyone’s help. I plan to call the center this week and schedule an appointment. I’m sure once I get one, I’ll wonder what took me so long!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂


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