Whole Body

Nerve Agent


Is there anything quite as grotesque as a knot in your back? Especially a knot wedged beneath your shoulder blade, hard as a golf ball, bulging with every stride? All winter, I’d kept a daily regimen of 10 hours of sitting. Hunched over a keyboard, leaning into a steering wheel, I’d succumbed to my slouch. My spine spasmed. Pain prickled down my arms.

So I headed to Revival Massage & Bodyworks on Wickenden Street, because this is exactly what my middle-aged body needed - to be revived from winter’s atrophy. And to accomplish this, I needed something I’d never considered before: a deep-tissue massage.

On the sidewalk, a sandwich board read, “Massage: Spring Cleaning for Your Body.” I descended the steps and met with Jessica Lavoie, a chipper massage therapist and co-owner of Revival. The venue is underground, and Lavoie led me to a treatment room of earth-toned walls and flickering candles. There, I recounted my routine: eight hours at a desk bookended by hour-long commutes. Lavoie knew the price of such inertia, and how to fix it.

As I settled into the mattress, face pressed into cradle, my torso tensed. I had never really done a “deep-tissue” massage. I listened to Lavoie’s hands rub together. The scent of oils wafted. Then I felt palms across my rhomboids. Yet it wasn’t her hands that dug deep into flesh; it was her elbows.

“People sometimes ask me, ‘Do your fingers get tired?’” Lavoie told me, “But I don’t really use my fingers that much. I’d wear out in a few minutes. And I want to be able to do this work for a long time.”

Lavoie leaned into me, her arm-joint kneading my braided muscle fibers. For such a petite woman, Lavoie remolded my trapezii with astonishing force. The sensation was a spectacular ache – of pain, of relief – and I drifted into warm disorientation. “People think deep-tissue just means more pressure,” Lavoie explained. “And there is more pressure. But that’s not all it is.”

Lavoie’s business partner is Morgan Woodard. In their mission statement, they wax poetic: “The name Revival was chosen not only because massage therapy literally revives one’s body, mind, and soul, but also because Jessica and Morgan embrace the opportunity to revive the true purpose of massage therapy.”

This sentiment struck a nerve. At a certain age, massage ceases to be a decadent splurge. As I spiral toward 40, I can no longer shake off the cumulative stress. The consequences are real.

The hands finally fell away. I couldn’t believe only an hour had passed. I dressed, and my clothes felt like paper draped over a weightless body. Lavoie suggested a monthly visit. In years past, I have smiled graciously and ignored this same advice. But this time, I may relent. Like the massage itself, my appreciation has deepened.

Revival Massage & Bodyworks
269 Wickenden Street • 270-5077


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