Credit: Rachael McIntosh

Move over, morphine. As someone who has endured her fair share of muscle pain, I have turned to various treatments over the years, everything from Thai massage to electrical nerve stimulation. Opiates, of course, can provide near-instant relief, but who wants to end up a drug addict? And anyway, the point is is to heal pain, not to mask it. That’s where massage therapist Rachael McIntosh comes in. McIntosh, of one-woman shop Chicago Body Work, is a pain slayer. She knows—and will quickly make you aware—that you have to endure pain to cure pain. This is not feel-good Swedish massage. There is no aroma in this therapy. It is pure, intense (sometimes blindingly so) pressure, expertly and intuitively applied not just to knotted muscles but to those parts of the body that are sneakily “referring” pain—quite often the pecs, an area overlooked by many therapists. In addition to deep-tissue work that incorporates principles of Thai massage, McIntosh also offers cupping (the application of burning-hot cups to the skin, resulting in a therapeutic suction effect)—though you’ll need to evaluate your pain threshold before going there. McIntosh is an artist, a healer, and a student of medicine, one who got her start caring for the elderly, the dying, and sufferers of ALS. At about $1 per minute, this is a cure you can’t afford to ignore.