At first it doesn't sound much like a massage story, but years ago, a good friend of mine coaxed me into buying and riding a bicycle… for fun. Let me just say, after listening to story upon story, using of course his definition of ‘fun’, led me to look deep into other peoples concepts of fun. Well as time passed, I somehow, strangely, adopted his motto, ‘Go Big or Stay Home’!
My first bike ride consisted of a 2.5 mile ride to the post office and back home again. There was a giant hill smack dab in the middle of the 2.5 miles…yes…twice I had to summit this climb in my first outing. I remembered riding all around town when I was younger and this peak didn’t exist. 'Could I have become that soft?', I thought to my self. I finished my quest and then went to drive the course in my car to discover my total mileage...I had been anxious to go to work the next day and brag to all my co-workers that I did this monumental ride the day before. UNTIL... Well, there had to be something wrong with the odometer on the car. In fact, it seemed someone had also done away with that peak that laid in between me and the post office after my ride. Wow…I HAD become soft. At one time in my young life I had hiked through out the White mountains of New Hampshire and was in pretty good shape, but my fitness left me, with the inactivity I had been participating in, and this biking thing had gotten the better of me.
A Turning Point
My friend proposed the idea of a 150 mile bike ride, three day charity bike ride through the rolling hills of New Hampshire…of course for a great cause and well, fun. Hmmm, I thought…more mountains to scale, but this time on a bike. "I'LL DO IT!" From that moment I began to ride practically every day. The roads did get less steep and my fitness improved. I didn’t know much about cycling, but the process unfolded and before I knew it the event was here. There are many memories of that charity ride that I pray I will never forget, but the most memorable is what happened to my body after the three days. At the end of the ride there was a massage therapy student giving sports massage to the riders. I had never received a massage before, but I was curious. I remember my body feeling very heavy, not just my legs, but my entire being, before I jumped on to that table. The lasting memory of that day was the feeling getting off the table. My body truly felt different from the short time prior I was on the table. How could this be? It must just be the power of suggestion I thought. The memory of the massage and the need to find out if the feeling was a mere suggestion was not the only significant memory of the day. I had also lost so much weight during the event that I wore sweatpants for the following week, complete with adjustable draw string so they wouldn’t fall down. I came away from this ride with an amazement of the human body and what it can be put through and even come back for more. Then through someone's facilitation I could feel different just by them 'poking' at me. I not only began ‘studying’ cycling, but I was also intrigued by anatomy and physiology, along with massage therapy.
Over the next six years book after book began creeping in to my house on the subjects from massage to the book Grays Anatomy, itself. My interest at exploring a new field of study was heightened and LOW AND BEHOLD a therapist in my town was offering a weekend seminar on Introduction to Massage Therapy. By lunch on the first day I was hooked. Seven months later I was enrolled into a fifteen month study of massage therapy. I was so excited to pursue all I had been studying for the last six and a half years. I couldn’t wait to graduate and do sports massage for a living. This is where my story really happens.
An Accident Brings a Different Perspective
It was a week to the day I was to enter massage school. I woke that morning feeling energized and excited of what the next week was to bring. A group of us met for a mountain bike ride and then it happened. A spectacular crash that morning landed me with about sixteen months of neurological issues. A couple of doc’s where perplexed at why I didn’t just break my neck, but felt certain that the medication would take care of everything. Test after test, doc after doc, modality after modality I just wasn’t the same guy that woke up that Saturday morning. All the tests showed I was completely fine…ear test, eye test, blood test and the list went on. However, I knew myself and something was not right. I decided that I would dive in to figuring it out, thanks to a motto that stuck from my old buddy, ‘go big or stay home’. I had really given the western route their due to 'cure' me, when I noticed a peculiar pattern after attending massage classes. Every time I received massage at school, that familiar feeling from the massage at the charity event came to life. Sometimes with lasting relief and sometimes with just a short while of what I would later define as clarity. However massage seems to have that magic touch. In particular, it was the deeper tissue and neuromuscular techniques that seemed to have the most benefit for me. From what I could gather it tended to break the existing patterns that was within my musculature and nervous system and seemed to give it a reset or a reboot. From that moment of realization, I was committed to applying everything I learned and experienced to people suffering with chronic pain.
Personal Experience Helps Others
I tell people frequently that 'fortunately', I had suffered from this crash and felt miserable for sixteen months. I truly believe that pain/neurological patterns, even long seeded patterns, can be altered. Living with the fact the doc’s said I was just fine, but struggling with the knowledge that I knew I wasn’t drove me deeper into this natural field. It only encouraged me more to pursue massage therapy for the individuals affected in this way. Today I enjoy working with chronic pain more than ever, since the rewards are so familiar. That feeling of just me being me again is an amazing feeling and gift that I will never forget overcoming. I have been pain free for the last twelve years.
New Life, New Adventure
only make my massage story better was in 2001 I met and married my wife
Tiffany, who is also a massage therapist. From the moment I met her, I
was moved by her commitment and compassion for the healing arts for the
betterment of others. We were engaged ten days after our first date.
Because of her incredible communication and criticism with me as a
therapist, and her own triumph over her chronic back pain years ago, she
inspires me on a daily basis to make other's days be the best they
Relocated to Western Maryland with his family, Gary is available for deep tissue and sports massage sessions at the year round resort area of Deep Creek Lake Maryland.
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