I am old. Well, relatively speaking, I hope I am somewhere around middle-aged (I will turn 46 later this year). But there are absolutely days where I feel old, and fewer days where I feel sprightly. That bums me out a bit, but I am working on my sprightliness. I’ve never been that great of an athlete, but that is not from lack of interest or participation. These days, I play ice hockey, golf, and run. Back in the early ’80s (or as I like to say, 40 pounds ago), I could run pretty fast. Those days are long gone, but I still like to think of myself as a runner. My latest endeavor is a spring marathon (more on that another day), and thus I am ramping up my training efforts. As a result my massage frequency is increasing as well, to help manage my chronically tight gastroc and soleus (and hamstring and Achilles and glute and lower back and…well, you get the idea). I received a massage last week that hurt. It was very good, and the therapist was very good, and very knowledgeable. My therapist explained that she did deep work and tried to reach an 8 on the 1-10 scale—“so it, you know, ‘hurts so good.’” The pressure was intense, but knowing what I know, and knowing what my body needed, I went along with it. But it wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as most massages I receive. Frankly, it felt like treatment I have received from a physical therapist. I usually leave my massage session relaxed, happy, a little buzzed; this session I left feeling a bit like a picked over piece of chicken. I remember once receiving a massage from one of my instructors (boundary alert!) who delighted in finding every entrapment, knot, or imperfection, and telling her, “just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to get it.” I know that deeper work isn’t “fluff and buff,” but I also know that one of the things I love about massage is that there is usually a nice holistic bow tied around the session that allows me to leave relaxed, happy, and a little buzzed. But I also know that if I am going to acquire some of that increasingly elusive sprightliness, it takes work. Have you experienced necessarily uncomfortable massage? Do you deliver it? Prefer to receive more from Les in small doses? Follow him on Twitter — @abmp_les.