Confession of a Steam Room Junkie


By Charlie Ware

They are out to get me. My right heel is throbbing and sore to the touch from developing a Haglund’s deformity. Haglund’s a jerk. There’s a small bump under my left knee on my tibia that screams post run. This isn’t to be confused with the other two large lumps under both knees – inconsiderate leftovers from a nasty case of Osgood Schlatter’s disease when I was a teen. Osgood’s a real chump too. I have two fallen metatarsals on each foot that take a constant beating from my mid-forefoot strike. I’ve got a Morton’s nueroma the size of a small marble in my right foot that comes and goes with the sensation of a fillet knife being jammed into the top of my third toe. Morton, you turd. I have another strange swelling behind my left knee that is unidentifiable, even by ultrasound. I’ve got bow legs, weak hips, no butt, and over pronate. My hammies, quads, and adductors are so tight I haven’t been able to sit Indian style since eighth grade. And my back hurts from driving too much.

Forget the past, these are the bastard enemies that assault me as we speak. And this is only the physical attack; I’ll spare you the broad list of mental deformities that flank me from my blind side. So what does one do to keep going in the face of such cruel adversaries? I’ll tell you the first step of the resistance – get free podiatry by marrying into the practice. Step one complete. Thank you, Ronika and Dr. Hutch.

Step two – new age, alternative medicine homeopathic hippy-shit. Oh yes, I’m all about it. Perhaps a visit to my Chinese medicine practitioner who sticks me full of needles and sends electronic pulses through the pins, making my muscles bounce around in a furious twitch. Or he’ll put suction cups on my back (cupping), leaving me with large, round hickeys that look as though I’ve been abducted by kinky aliens who’ve performed odd and malicious experiments on me. Or he’ll do some deep tissue massage – so goddamn deep that I have to bite down on a towel and scream from his sadistic attempts to “drudge out” those stubborn hammies.

Perhaps I’ll take it easier and make a visit to the float tank, or “sensory deprivation tank.” Basically they fill a large tub with room temperature water and pack it so full of Epsom salt that you float on top of the water like a dead fish. A happy, dead fish. With all sound and light removed, you’re left weightless and senseless as you simply lay there…and float. I like to go in for an hour and a half. Have you ever just floated in complete silence and darkness for an hour and a half? Sure, it’s a little weird. But hey, so is running 100 miles – let’s get weird. Not only do you leave with a cleared out headspace, but it’s like taking an Epsom salt bath on steroids – great for the sore body.

Or maybe a trip to Tucson Community Acupuncture. On a sliding scale of $15-$35 you can go in and get fired up with needles. Then you zonk out in, hands down, the best mid-day napping scene Tucson has to offer – a dimly lit room with 15 cozy recliner chairs equipped with blankets and accompanied by relaxing, sleepy mood music to drift off to. It’s like visiting an opium den. Except healthy. At least that’s what they tell me. To be honest, I’m not convinced it actually does anything. It’s a great nap though…I’m a big fan of the nap.

Or maybe I’ll just fill myself with some over-priced health food and alternative beverages. Kombucha, get in my belly and deliver your magical mysterious probiotic whatnot! Whole Foods salad bar, you sneaky bastard, you got me again. Damn this delicious $15 pile of vegetables! They don’t account for ultrarunners requiring at least 1.5 lbs in that box. It’s a love/hate relationship.

Oh, and one of my favorites…foot massage. My wife does a great job at this (and I return the favor, I swear), but sometimes I need the real deal and call in the pros. Ever drive by one of those places in strip malls that say “Reflexology” or simply “Foot Massage?” Ever wonder who frequents those establishments? This guy. For $25 you get a half hour of pure bliss as they give those beat up, howlin’ dogs the best rubdown life has to offer. And mine sure need it – those who’ve had the misfortune of seeing my feet are met with a plea not to call the authorities and report this grotesque case of abused pups. I wonder what the masseuse thinks of them…a challenge, I suppose. But I wouldn’t know, there’s no English spoken here, so no need for small-talk. Nope… just close the eyes, lay back and treat yo’self.

How do I pay for all this nonsense? I have a secret. You see, I have direct deposit from work and a shared bank account with the wife. So I can’t use the card…it can be traced back to me. But I’ve found a loophole in the system. Every month I get a gas reimbursement check for all the driving around that’s made out to cash. Fun money. Treat yo’self money. Or, in more practical terms, it’s preventative health care money, honey.

I don’t always act in cahoots. I launch my own strategic retaliation against the enemies. Stretching, yoga, foam rolling, core work, plyometric work, resistance band work – all in the arsenal. I pad my shoes in all sorts of different ways for the foot stuff. I sleep with toes spacers on for the neuroma. Ice. Heat. Compression. It’s all in the tool kit. And finally and most importantly, I’ve found the one true, revitalizing cure-all: the steam room.

I was introduced to the steam room in college, and I’ve been hooked since. The hot tub is the gateway drug. The dry sauna is on par, and often preferable in wet climates, but in the desert it’s all about the steam room. Now, a lot of guys will chat it up in there. I think some of the world’s most perplexing problems were talked out and resolved over a steam session. But that’s not my style. I bring eucalyptus essential oil spray in, fire it up, spray the steamer, and let the sweat lodge begin. This is serious business.

I steam long and I steam hard. I sweat out all the nasty stuff going on in my body. All the aches and pains, worries and frustrations – steam it away. There’s a reason Native Americans have used steam in their sweat lodge purification ceremonies for thousands of years. They’re on to something. And the best hangover cure known to man? Steam. Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack were known for playing evening shows, partying all night, sleeping all day, steam room session at 5 p.m., and doing it all over again. I dig their style. I have a gym membership for the sole purpose of the steam room. I don’t like weights; I go for the Executive Workout. I’ll leave you with the Urban Dictionary definition of such. Now get out there for some real cross-training and treat yo’ self.

Executive Workout
It is way to groove your body all three times a day in one workout. This workout conditions your cardio, core and endurance. Step 1, dry sauna for no fewer than 15 minutes, must not have any water or a towel. This portion of the workout will get your blood flowing like a race horse. Step 2, Jacuzzi for 15 minutes. The scorching-hot water goes directly into pores which strengthens your core. Have you had enough yet? The final leg of the workout brings us back into the locker room for the Eucalyptus Steam Room. Test your endurance to see how long you can make it. Any less than 15 minutes and you have failed. If you can accomplish this workout, you are a true Executive. If not, you will be stuck in middle management for the rest of your life. Good Luck.



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