The year was 2000. I kept my bodywork schedule in a paper calendar and took my calls for appointments over a Nokia flip phone. I was living on the top floor of a charming bungalow on a hill near the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado.
My lifestyle was quite active: trail running up Mount Sanitas; lifting weights at Rally Sport; and skiing at Eldora. Even though I was just 26, my body was beginning to talk back when I pushed it too far. And for the first time, concepts like “low back pain” and “sciatica” weren’t abstract ideas that I read about in Travell’s Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction and treated, but discomforts which I was beginning to uncomfortably embody.
After a hard-charging ski morning at Eldora, I returned to my bungalow. Just as I parked, I received a call from a client about an appointment he desired. I went to exit the car and literally collapsed from low back pain. I had to tell the client I’d call him back, as I couldn’t make it upstairs to my bungalow and the paper calendar inside.
As a recent graduate from Tucson Arizona’s Desert Institute of the Healing Arts, I had auspiciously arranged a trade that day with a woman who had graduated the excellent 1,000- hour massage therapy program a few years before me. When I arrived at her small but comfortable office, she did an intake interview. I told her about how my massage should be focused on the low back spasms.
I climbed face-down on her table and she proceeded to go straight for the trigger point that’s right where the iliac crest connects to the lumbar spine. She held it and held it with her elbow for about 15 minutes. As a receiver, I felt a wonderful opening and unwinding of the pain with wild referrals shooting at intervals down my leg. When the massage finished, I got up and it was like one of those televangelist faith healings. I hopped off the table totally healed and with the discomfort banished.
So, if you come to get a Deep Esalen Massage with me and mention low back pain, one place I will start is with generous attention on the magic lower lumbar trigger point. And, yes, I will remember my Boulder, Colorado youthful excesses and the therapist who helped remind me that bodies do break down, but the descent can be eased, delayed and managed with a helping elbow.