As I walked out of LoDo Massage’s economical RiNo studio near downtown Denver I felt centered and straightened, corrected and focused. The body tune-up I’d just received was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
Actually, I take that back.
This feeling, the physiological equivalent to a Washed Out jam or Sigur Ros ballad, was familiar. As I made my way to my car, I wasn’t walking. I was floating. And I’d floated like this before — after my first-ever acupuncture treatment, which was so radical and life-altering that I immediately wrote a short story about it in an attempt to capture the essence of a feeling I never knew existed outside of science fiction.
And somehow this otherworldly sensation was sensibly fitting, the subtle float to my car and back to the newsroom. I just received a 60-minute Mile High Therapeutic Massage that used a THC- and CBD-infused lotion. Between the skilled therapist’s focused work and the potently medicated lotion, it was one of the most gratifying therapeutic exercises I’ve ever experienced.
And now a few preemptive answers:
No, I wasn’t high.
I didn’t smoke or vaporize before or after the massage.
And no, the lotion didn’t get me stoned. (That’s not how topicals work.)
As I floated to my desk in the newsroom and looked around, I saw everything as it was: Straight up and down, but with a gentle focus. The gentle focus part is always there after a solid massage, but rarely do I see linear structures and surroundings as straight up and down — because rarely am I straight up and down.
I could tell you about my left shoulder blade for 30 minutes but I won’t. I told massage therapist Taylor Diller about the constant pain and discomfort there before the massage, and she gently said, “Yeah, that makes sense,” when she first felt the knot that permanently resides there in my upper-left back.
And then she went to work. She kindly favored my left shoulder but also intuitively spent careful attention to my calves and neck, which were also particularly sore that afternoon. At first, the lotion — from Colorado company Apothecanna — worked like any other massage lotion. But about 20 minutes into the massage its unique ingredients warmed up and turned my skin into a particularly malleable canvas.
In the last six months of experimentation with infused topicals I’ve learned that not all of these salves and lotions and balms are created equally. I have favorites, and there are also other brands I would never spend money on again. After a half-hour of this massage, Apothecanna was immediately at the top of my topicals list.
Infused topicals don’t get you stoned. But the best topicals I’ve used have a way of opening up the skin’s sensory profile, like a more nuanced Icy Hot. Rub the topical into the area feeling pain or pressure. Give the topical time to take root. And then gently rub it in, taking time to work the surface skin and the muscles and tendons underneath.
When combined with the hands of a learned massage therapist these topicals become even more powerful weapons against pain. This massage had an elevated quality to it, and I felt especially attuned to my shoulder knot as she worked and worked and worked on it. I noticed the lessening tension with each sweep Taylor would take, and by the time I floated on down the street to my car I realized I was walking straight up and down — and without the tension that has permanently occupied my shoulder for five or six years.
Each eight-ounce bottle of Apothecanna’s Pain Cream sells for around $45 and includes 240 milligrams of cannabis extracts, “approximately 80 percent THC and 4 percent CBD,” said Apothecanna founder James Kennedy. His products are “flying off the shelves” at various Colorado pot shops, he said, and he’s also thrilled with his current collaboration with LoDo Massage owner Ed Rich, who noted that the newly introduced Mile High Therapeutic Massage, normally $75/hour, is on a $65/hour special through the end of July at their studio at 3101 Walnut St.
Mind you, this THC-infused lotion is not a miracle. But it’s superior to any other lotion or oil I’ve encountered in previous massages. It felt like it enabled my massage therapist to do the work she was trying to do. And I was so impressed with her work that I immediately rebooked: Same massage, same therapist, same infused lotion, same left-shoulder focus.
When Taylor saw me rebooking before I’d even left the space she smiled.
“Anytime I do a massage or any massage therapist does a job, you’re always going to be sore afterward — there’s that instant inflammation,” she began, noting that she’s given roughly 20 of the Mile High Therapeutic Massages. “But when I use Apothecanna it genuinely helps my arms not be in as much pain after a massage. It has the effect of putting an aspercreme on my arms.
“I’m using it to help the patient and client, but it’s also helping me and prolonging my career.”
Some might call that a win-win. Me, I’ll just call it my ticket to float — and now that I’ve documented this otherworldly experience (as I had with my first trip to the acupuncturist), I’ll simply count the days until my next appointment.