March 02, 2015

Massage, Musings, and Miscellania

photo via
By Crabby McSlacker

So this post is mostly about an in-home massage I got to partake of, courtesy of Soothe Massage. Although fortunately it was not quite as acrobatic as the one pictured above!

Soothe is not just a local San Diego thing, or reviewing it wouldn't make much sense, would it?  No, the company currently operates in a handful of sunny locations, but it plans to take over the world and promises to be in a major city near you before too long.  Of course, this being Cranky Fitness, you can bet the review will include not only my take on the service, but the usual bizarre digressions.

And guess what? ... This post also contains a sneaky shoe giveaway!

It appears that the awesome Altra running/walking shoes went unclaimed when our last giveaway winner failed to check in. So unless I receive some fairly convincing evidence of an email snafu, I'm going to have another go at it.

Notice how I didn't mention the shoe giveaway in the title this time? I'm thinking this is going to be a small, homey affair.  Unfortunately, you need a U.S. mailing address, sorry.  But this drawing is directed more at regular visitors who just happen to stop by and comment below. Why? Because you are not only more beloved and deserving than random giveaway passers-by, but you are also way more likely to show up again in a week to claim your prize!

Anyway, so, let's get to it!

Massage Health Benefits

 image via mattstone

Let me just dutifully remind readers that massages are officially good for you.  I am too lazy compile a research review but I can point you towards the stodgy but generally reliable Mayo Clinic, which has a compilation of benefits of massage. Even lazier, how 'bout I cut and paste the summary of conditions it may be good for that conveniently appeared at the top of my google search?

  • Anxiety.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia related to stress.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome.
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain.
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries.

But while I suffer from some of these conditions myself, this is not why I get massages. In fact, for some weird reason, I don't find they do much for me therapeutically. Sometimes they make my sore muscles feel slightly looser and mellower; often times I'm even more sore afterwards, but either way, the effects are so temporary I'd be as well off taking a few ibuprofen, which is way cheaper.  Or there are other ways to pursue therapeutic goals, like foam rollers or other gadgets.

Nah, for me the main massage health benefit is the total hedonistic pleasure of the experience itself. It's like the boring middle-aged-lady equivalent of hiring a hooker.

(Actually, considering I let a handsome young stranger into my home and got naked with him while he was paid for his time, all the while my hardworking spouse was off on a business trip... hmm, I guess it WAS kinda like hiring a hooker!)

Sorry, were you expecting a normal tasteful blog review post? Did you forget this was Cranky Fitness?

Oh, and speaking of massages, I almost forgot: we had a great guest post a while back from Malevolent Andrea on "Ten Things Your Massage Therapist Wants You to Know," which you should definitely check out if you have massage-related questions. The whole farting question for example? She's got that covered.

The Soothe In-Home Massage Review

Gleeful Disclaimer:

I got my 90 minute massage for FREE!!!!  Wheee!! However, I am fully capable of looking a gift horse in the mouth, so be assured I will be honest about both negatives and positives.

About Soothe

Soothe cuts out the middleman by sending a participating massage therapist, who may also work elsewhere but is free at the moment, to your home or hotel. So there is no fancy spa overhead. This means, according to the company but I didn't grill the handsome young stranger for confirmation, that the therapist gets to keep a lot more of the money than is typical at a brick and mortar spa.

You book online, and choose the gender of your therapist, type of massage etc.  (I went with no preference for gender and opted for a deep tissue massage.) You can set something up fairly last minute, and they may even be able to send someone out within an hour. The massage therapist brings the table and lotion and linens; any new-age music or cucumber water you require you will have to supply yourself. Currently they operate in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Miami, Phoenix/Scottsdale and Austin.

What Was Pretty Great about the Massage Experience

The massage therapist was skilled and knowledgeable.  I am a high-maintenance massage consumer with various injuries and preferences and I got a very customized massage. Plus my therapist recommended some specific stretches to help with my back problems that I hadn't tried before--and I didn't think there was anything short of hara-kiri that I haven't tried yet.

The company seems well run. You get confirmation and reminder texts, as well as updates if your therapist is running late.  It feels like there are actual friendly competent people behind the website coordinating and ensuring quality control; it's not just an app randomly hooking up therapists and clients.

Rates are not outrageous and include travel time and gratuity.  The price for a 60 minute massage is $99; a 90 minute massage is $139 and a 120 minute is $169.  For some folks that may seem expensive, and for others it may seem totally reasonable. It's quite a bit more than I pay for my regular guy, but I would definitely consider this option when traveling. The included gratuity thing is especially awesome, because I always find the tipping part awkward.  I never seem to have the guts to tip less for a crappy massage that a good one anyway, so having it already taken care of in advance takes the angst out of it.

You don't have to leave your house to get your massage, it comes to you. You save transit time of course, but this also  means if you remember to keep your bathrobe handy, you don't have to get back into your street clothes when you are all slippery and smelly with lotion, you can head directly to the shower. You also don't have to try to get yourself home when you are so relaxed you can barely put one foot in front of the other.  Finally, if you get swollen disfigured eyes like I do from lying face down, you do not have to expose these to the general public.

The whole thing feels quite wholesome.  Despite all my hooker-talk above, there is nothing the least bit sleazy about the experience. You can choose a therapist of your own gender and do not have to be entirely naked if that's not comfortable for you. The therapists are vetted, and feedback from clients is enthusiastically encouraged, so it seems like a model that would keep the quality high. This is a great option when you are traveling, because a quick perusal of Craig's List ads indicates that the outcall massage industry sometimes has something of a seamy side.

What was a Little Less Great:

The downside of a massage coming to you, is that someone else is in charge of deciding how long it takes to travel from point A to point B.  I would sooner be late for a meeting with the President of the United States than I would a massage appointment, so I always arrive early when I'm in control.

So yeah, the Soothe Dude ran into traffic and was half an hour late.  The behind-the-scenes folks texted my after about 10 minute to let me know he was running late, and it didn't cut into our time, so no big deal.

The other confusion was that he thought I had a 60 minute massage, and I had to correct him at the end.  I still got my extra 30 minutes, but it meant he flipped me too early, and towards the end it felt like he was improvising a bit.

But he did a nice job and was really nice and very apologetic and it was still overall a great massage.

Overall Impression?  

Very Positive!  At home I'm not in the market, having my own regular massage guy who is awesome, but if I were vacationing in a city where Soothe operates?  I'd totally go for it.  The price is cheaper and more convenient than a fancy spa, and yet not as potentially funky as a Craig's List search.

And Now Onto the Altra Shoe Re-Giveaway:

As you may recall, Cranky Fitness recently hosted a giveaway of some awesome zero-drop "foot-shaped" shoes, and the winner gets to choose whatever Altra pair they like best. For more info on the shoes, see the Altra review post.

To enter (or re-enter) this drawing, just leave a comment below.  If you can mention both shoes and massages in your comment, you get 2 entries!

I'll be announcing a new random winner Monday March 9, and if you win you'll have a week to get back to me by emailing crabby mcslacker at gmail dot com.

If no one claims them this time, then the hell with the random drawing, I will ARBITRARILY PICK A WINNER MYSELF and hunt them down and make sure they get the shoes.

Good luck!

Got any thoughts on massage? Love 'em or not so crazy about having strangers touch you? Or hey, want some Altra shoes?


  1. I've never had a professional massage because I'm weird about people touching me. Also, I am a wuss and "deep tissue" sounds like a euphemism for "a beating." Maybe one day I'll give it a try, though. It's nice to know there are non-creepy options for travel!

    Why yes, I do want some Altra shoes! The wide toe box has me intrigued thanks to my foot-squishing Nikes. :-D

  2. I never ask for a deep-tissue massage, I bruise easily. So far I've always asked for a female therapist--I'm a little nervous about finger strength. But a massage with a lighter touch is great for relaxation and rewarding myself, for example after a race.

    As for shoes: I'm thinking about trying Hokas or minimal running shoes.. and am totally confused as to which would be helpful, and can't afford both. Zero-drop shoes? Ok, would love to try them.


  3. Both massage and shoes have made a huge difference in my body. I used to get regular deep-tissue massages once a month for over a year or two but it wasn't enough on it's own. Now I CF and get myofascial massage as often as possible (once every month or two) and it's a world of difference!

    As far as shoes go, getting flat shoes that fit Superfeet insoles and wide enough for my foot to spread out has been important.

  4. I don't like the idea of getting a massage from anyone outside my partner. I know, I am weird! I feel like it is too intimate and it would make me feel funny.

    Anyway, I would LOVVVVEEEE a crack at the sneakers!!! I just started working out in an 11-week group 5K training and it would be so cool to have a new pair to romp around in. :)

  5. I get massages pretty regularly and really enjoy them. I almost always opt for the deep tissue varieties because I generally have some soreness lurking deep in my muscles somewhere. I find that after a massage my shoulders especially are looser and lower. I am one of those stereotypical women who carry their stress in the upper back and end up with shoulders around the ears at the end of a difficult day.

    I am not sold on the whole minimal or zero-drop shoe thing, but I am willing to give it a shot. I am tall and not at all small, so I think I would use the Altras for shorter runs only. At least until I figured out if it was good for me.

  6. I ashamed to admit I have two certificates for free massage sitting on my night stand just waiting to be used. One has been there waaaaay to long (let's just say you have to count in years rather than months). I'm always looking for the "perfect" reason to go, rather than saying "f it! I'm going!" And I loooove a deep tissue massage. I always consider it fabulous if I'm sore after a massage. ;)

    And why yes, I would love to give those fabulous shoes a try. I'm facing some foot problems again and the wider the toe box, the better for that situation. I've also gone and signed up to run one marathon as a relay, one half marathon, about two dozen 5K's, and I'm aiming to do the Mickelson Trail Trek (100 mile bike ride). All in the next 6 months. (Glutton for punishment? Yes, yes I am.) So I'm going to need some new shoes pretty quickly!

    1. Really? I couldn't even get the first word correct? That should be I'm ashamed of course... and now I'm more ashamed. *hangs head*

      Also meant to say - glad to see they work in Phoenix! Maybe on my next stopover for work I'll try it out!

  7. I love your reviews, and this one was a particular winner as I'm still giggling over the hooker/spouse away/nekkid, I, too, am perfectly capable of looking a gift horse in the mouth when reviewing freebies, so there's that appreciation as well.

    Massages - I like them, but I still get a little skeeved out getting mostly nekkid with a stranger.
    Shoes - I still would LOVE the Altras. And I like how you did this secret's disappointing when someone who never comments wins, and then they never return to claim their prize because you know they are entering every single giveaway in blogland, regardless of whether they really want the item or not.

  8. Regarding massage...I have had amazing success with massage fixing my ailments...even things I had no clue were "tense muscle related" (like I once had a jaw ache that was fixed by a shoulder and neck massage). My only issue with massage is that I don't make enough money to have them as often as I would like. I have a lot of physical issues due to partial paralysis that makes me walk in an unnatural way that leads to all sorts of problems up the line. Massage literally keeps me from going completely insane with my chronic pain issues. My dream is to one day be a gazillionaire and have a massage person "on staff"....ahhhh....I love this dream.

    On the shoes...I just read your previous post and would love to try those out for my walking. A wider toe-box is a must for me. In fact...I just gave away a few hundred dollars worth of barely worn high-profile brand shoes because, while they fit, there was something about them that made my big toe ache after about 30 minutes of wearing ache to the point that I would frantically tear at the shoe to get it off of me as fast as possible. I don't have this issue with my other exercise shoes but all of the ones from that brand I would have exactly the same response. I'm very curious to try out the Altra's. While I don't run (yet...I'm still hopeful that someday I will), I do walk quite a bit and am always looking for a better shoe situation.

  9. Death Ride GrandmaMarch 2, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    Massage is amazing. I don't love experiencing it the way you do - I am so knotted up that the deep tissue stuff is pretty painful - but oh, so I love the results! It has changed my life. I honestly don't think I could do half the riding & running I do without a little help getting the kinks out. Having said that, though, I have only once had the therapist come to me rather than going to his/her place, and it felt a little creepy. It was NOT Craigslist. It was actually set up by the NY hotel I was staying at, but it still felt a little too weird to me, so I am glad to know there is a good group out there. I hope they come to the bay area before I retire and have to find someone nearer my house. Can you set things up with the same therapist if you find one you really like?

  10. I've never had a massage, but I do need more comfortable shoes!

  11. Shoes still sound great! Even if I don't win, I am going to try them when my current love (Hoka) get to 500 miles. :) Massage: for me - ick! Husband loves them. He has back and neck issues so maybe that is the difference.

  12. I'd love the shoes as I actually have foot shaped feet!
    As far as massage goes - the only professional massage I've had is a "back chair" massage at a storefront place and I was left with bruised arms at that. : )

  13. I love massages but it has been way too long since I had one. I'm thinking that after my upcoming race I should have one and the idea of having it come to me makes me super happy!!!
    I still want to try the Altra shoes - I'm going to need new shoes soon (who am I kidding - I always "need" new shoes). I know that you like the green better but I'm a big fan of the orange ones!!

  14. I have had the occasional massage and I enjoyed them but I'm cheap and I have a hard time spending the money. For that kind of money I want a miracle cure!! The other problem is that I am obese and there is just a big pile of awkward that goes with that. I'm not shy about being naked but I am about getting flipped right off the table or having the sheet turn into a restraint as I try to flip myself.
    No shoes for me please.

  15. I entered a comment (about the furry masseuse AND the green shoes), but I don't see it here. Did it get lost in cyberspace?

  16. I would love to try these shoes! My current running shoes are due to be replaced soon! And as far as massages go, I love them while they are happening, but after about 30 minutes, I don't feel any different than I did when I went in, so it doesn't seem worth the expense to me.

  17. I'm a big fan of new shoes and massages. :)

  18. Crabby,
    Great post! Bonus points for your willingness to barbecue a free vendor. :) Along with your excellent reasons for getting a msssage, there's one more that I like a LOT:

    It's Undeniably AWESOME!!!

    I mostly give amateur massages these days, and they're very well-received, but there's no question that getting a professional one is just the best. Afterward I feel a dreamlike state of spacy well-being, and my muscles are so relaxed. I like a LOT of pressure, and have found that I need someone who can provide that. Lesser pressure is still very nice, but not the same. Probably too many pull-ups in my past!

    btw, I'm glad you included a Tabby massage! :)


  19. Up until about 1.5 yrs ago, I was in the enviable position of being able to barter services w/my friend n' neighbor who's an awesome DTM therapist... She worked wonders on my stiff ol' spine!
    I've also got a pair of Vibrams w/which I was attempting to rehab my flat degenerative feet, but it's too hard to thread my crooked toes into 'em, so I wouldn't mind trying a more conventional style...

  20. I still want to try those shoes and need to remember to google if anyone local sells massages but they are further down the list of stuff to spend money on. Having them come to my house would be awesome though!!!

  21. Count me in for the shoe give-away, please. Although I like the concept of a massage, I've had one and didn't find it all that relaxing. Oh well, I guess it's me and my foam roller.

  22. Love a good massage, and i may have been out of town for this give away (or i was so busy before we left that i just don't remember). Either way, they would be interesting shoes to try.

  23. I've always wanted to get a professional massage. I've had mini massage demos during my college's finals week and recently at a PE Convention, and loved both experiences, but the idea of getting a full professional massage kind of makes me anxious. I have so much trouble relaxing and sitting still haha, but maybe it's just what I need! I do have insomnia and have pretty tense muscles from lifting weights and exercising. I think I'd rather go to a massage parlor than the at-home option based on your review.

    I can't believe someone didn't respond to the giveaway! I'm desperately in need of a new pair of sneakers, so I'm really hoping to win :) My Reeboks are getting a little worn out, and Altra sounds like a great brand. Bonus that the shoes come in awesome colors!

  24. I love wide shoes, and i will never get a massage, but I did freak out when the nurse offered me the option post-op!, Really just wanted to let you know my Dr. Prescribed Rick Hanson! And because I hang out here I was so cool, like yea I've totally heard of him.

  25. The only massage I ever had was after a bike ride, and the person had a belt-sander looking thing to do the massaging. I don't think it qualifies as a good massage. Shoes would be great!

  26. We have a wonder school of massage in my town! People from all over the country come here for training. I've taken a course there on massage. One of the things that I've really liked seeing about this school is not the quality of the massage that the students learn, although they have that, but how the person evolves into a better more caring, more world attuned individual by time the training is over!

    They don't wear SHOES that cool looking though :-)

  27. Now I must look up Myofascial pain syndrome. I've never had a massage. It always sounds too expensive.
    The shoes? I've been mumbling "wide toe box" to myself ever since your review.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  28. I have only had one massage and he was.. unpleasant. I can imagine the benefits though.. my chiro incorporates a bit of massage into some of the sessions and it's quite relaxing.

    Too bad the shoes are for Amurikans only. I'd have loved to have tried them. Can you please enter my name anyway and should it come up, pass the shoes along to MessyMimi?

  29. ahhhh I love massages and yet? as I age? THEY DO NOT LOVE ME.
    or I need to get em more often than once every few years (5?) and with a better person?!

  30. Yay for a good massage! Thanks for all of the insights!

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  33. I love massages and try to have at least a few per year. If I was rich and famous…or just rich, I would have one once a week. About the shoes…I figured you could just send them to the border and I could pick them up there from one of the border guards! Isn't that a great idea?

  34. Sometimes you need to relieve aches and pains in more than just your feet, and a foot and leg spa therapy might be the perfect solution. These larger models can still be used in the privacy of your home, and include the same beneficial features and functions as a foot therapy.


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