As I transitioned into the new year, I found myself in search of ideas beyond stereotypical diet and exercise goals. I already eat healthy and exercise regularly, so I’m not plagued by resolutions — but I thought long and hard about the changes I made in 2017, and one of them was introducing CBD into my life.
From CBD isolate to bath bombs and salves, I’ve been learning how to effectively integrate these forms of cannabinoid consumption into my recuperation routine. But a day on the slopes isn't my normal means of exercise, so I looked up a therapy method that's been gaining popularity around town: CBD massage.
While my first powder run proved to be a rewarding return on Christmas Day, the three-and-a-half-hour car ride home was just the opposite. As I sat helplessly parked inside the Eisenhower Tunnel for nearly an hour while the snow pelted outside, my calves were crying and my back was barking with pain; I also get muscle cramps and body aches if I don’t get enough electrolytes, potassium and magnesium via the keto diet. CBD had already helped other areas of my life, so why not infuse it into something that already heals, in a massage?
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After asking around, I connected with Kayla Murray from Renew Massage Studio in Washington Park. As enticing as a massage with CBD oil sounded, I wasn’t quite sold on how the experience would differ from applying the oil by myself at home, so I asked Kayla to throw in some hot stones for good measure.
I felt a combination of anxiety and excitement the night before and didn't sleep well. I arrived at Renew just a few minutes before my early-afternoon appointment, and Kayla gave me the rundown on the CBD offerings: She would use the house brand of hemp-derived CBD oil — Happy Buddha Hemp Co.’s Hemp Massage Oil — as the CBD inclusion, and recommended that I use CBD tincture at home for further therapy. We chatted briefly about my needs; I explained that my mid- and lower back had been in pain, along with some lingering soreness from snowboarding. I also felt knots bunched up in my feet from indoor cycling.
Kayla let me get comfortable on the warmed massage bed, with soft sheets and the glow of a pink Himalayan salt lamp inviting me in. World fusion music set the tone in the room. After she entered and we were settled, she asked me to take a few inhalations. Notes of wintergreen and lavender essential oils pleasantly wafted, providing a combination of strong, soothing properties. After full-body compressions, she placed the hot stones down my spine, and I began deep breathing.
Although it had been a while since my last massage, I didn’t want to be in too much immediate pain following the treatment. Kayla complied, but her modified style was still deep, hard work. Thoughts filtered through my mind as she worked on me, but outside stressors melted away with time. The hot stones were smooth, and the heat loosened my most tense areas. As I felt my body begin to release stress with each point she triggered, I started thinking about all of the negative experiences from the year I wanted to leave in that room.
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With each inhalation came an intention to continue the positive path I had recently embarked upon in 2018. With each exhalation, I felt Kayla’s kneading diminish the lingering emotional and physical debris. Later, I realized that while I was most interested in CBD’s effects on my body's aches and pains, the mental benefits of the massage were also allowing me to work through any grudges I wanted to leave behind.
Somehow I was able to remain mentally present despite melting into a state of spiritual bliss. Sitar notes whirled around my head as Kayla’s hands melded effortlessly with the complementary melodies. Even as my muscles relaxed — from my feet to my back and into my neck — her work awakened the circulation inside of me, and I began to embrace the new blood flow as revitalization. The transfer of energy, from my body to the stones, and then to Kayla’s hands, provided wholehearted relief.
The massage ended with more full-body hugs, compressions and another round of aroma inhalation, and then Kayla performed an energy break to release any ties to my purged, saturated atmosphere. As she left the room, I remained on the warm bed for a few minutes trying to process what just happened. I didn’t want to get up and move, but I immediately felt a refreshing sense of renewal and relaxation once I did. Little by little, I gathered my bearings, then walked in slow motion out the door.
I sat for a few minutes in my car afterward, trying to gain my composure. I felt a bodily buzz and relaxed for what I thought was a few minutes. For a moment, I wondered if the CBD had had any effect on me, but then I looked at my clock and realized twenty minutes had passed. The aches and inflammation from my time on the mountains was no longer a factor, vaporized on my path to healing an entire year's worth of built-up tension. As I backed away from the massage studio, a sense of liberation overcame me, and I knew I was ready to drive into 2018 with a sense of openness I hadn't felt before.