I built Stresstoration and DIY Health & Wellness programs for one simple purpose - to empower you with the knowledge, skills & abilities for a vibrant, thriving life.From do-it-yourself programs like DIY Lymph Massage to Stress Restoration (yup, that's where I got Stresstoration) to guidelines on when to get expert help, I've got you covered.
Everyone wants to thrive & have glowing health, but the knowing-how is the tricky part.
With Stresstoration’s suite of programs, I take the guesswork and legwork out of the equation so you can care for yourself efficiently and effectively – with simple-to-use, real-world tested programs targeting specific wellness challenges.
It’s like having a master therapist in your pocket 24/7!
So What Makes This Unique?
The truth is, I discovered that there is a huge gap in health & wellness.
In fact, it’s more like a 10,000 piece puzzle with only a few of the pieces put together – there are gaps everywhere. The pieces exist and they fit somehow, but few people know how to put them all together. The problem is part missing pieces, part finding the pieces, and part seeing how they fit into a cohesive picture.
Today, most of us have a pile of thousands of health & wellness pieces that we don’t know how to put together or have enough time in the day to do.
What is this gap?
- It’s the disconnect between where you are and the knowledge, skills, and professional expertise to solve your health challenge.
- It’s the difficulty finding the right answer to your problem… even finding the right questions to ask.
- It’s the “silo effect” where practitioners are so focused in their own specialty they can’t see the forest for the trees. Remember that old saying “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?
- It’s the fact that there’s so many disparate pieces of knowledge and varied solutions where everybody is selling up their snake oil as the answer to everything.
I created Stresstoration & my DIY Program Series to fill that gap.
There needs to be training & tools that provide a link between high-level strategic wellness goals and individual tactics. And guidance as to which of the millions of 5-minutes-a-day activities will actually get you where you want to go.
There needs to be a simple, cost-effective way to determine if you are applying the right tool for the job.
And now there is.
How would you like the answers to where you should invest your limited time, energy, and money so you can thrive in life?
There simply isn’t anything out there like it – and trust me I’ve looked.
I’ve always had a gift for finding and seeing connections others miss. First I was looking for tools for my students, then for my patients, then for my employees, and frankly I was discouraged. Everything out there is incomplete, disorganized, poorly implemented, and/or next to impossible to find.
You’d think it would be easier in the Information Age, wouldn’t you?
But if you don’t even know quite what you’re looking for, don’t know what you’re looking at, and don’t know if it’s right or not (since you’re not an expert already), what good is it?
I simplify both the search and the answers for people just like you.
So when you’re:
- Tired of piecing together half (or tenth) measures on YouTube…
- Tired of of wasting countless hours hunting down questionable and incomplete information…
- Tired of having to go pay another $100/hr to the therapist for their time (and that’s if you’ve even found a therapist that’s able to touch (haha) what you’ve got going on…
…then I’ve got your back (and the rest of you too)!
There's nothing like this out there
I've looked. Either for tools for myself or my patients or for more effective teaching. And every time, I have to assemble piles of information, sort through it, toss the bad/irrelevant info, and create my own training tool.
So I did.
I've distilled these DIY programs from thousands of one-on-one coaching and treatment sessions and extracted the advanced techniques I've mastered in my practice that can be used at home and voila, a program unlike any other.
I make complex concepts and techniques simple to understand and easy to use. I have over 23 years of experience teaching beginners just like you and I'll walk you through the process.
I've focused the programs on razor-focused problems so that we can cut the extraneous info and the does-this-even-apply-to-me crap and get straight to what matters the most. Not to mention I've taken the thousands of questions I've answered over 2 decades in practice and built tools to anticipate everything you'll need to know.
And... I've distilled it down so that you can customize the system to do just what you need it to do.
I don't cut corners. I'll give you everything you need to know to do it right.
Like having an expert in your pocket
Now you don't have to wait for business hours or take a long trip to the the therapist's office or pay an expert by the hour. You have an expert at hand 24/7, anywhere you go.
Need a refresher? Just hit refresh! Need it now? Just load it up! No more waiting on anyone else's schedule. No more feeling beholden to someone else's secret knowledge.
Learn what you need, when you need it - learn on demand. We're very clear about what each program is for and structure the programs to get you from point-A to point-B ASAP for your particular health/wellness challenge.
My goal is to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck in the time, money, and energy you invest in your wellness.
I cut costs without cutting any corners. I might give you a lot of information, but it's all hyper-relevant to the problem I'm teaching you to address.
Give me a big enough lever...
This stuff works. Evidence, observation, and countless patient reports show that.
But while your therapist is great, the knowledge they possess isn't secret or proprietary. In fact, as a therapist I always believed that I should teach a person to care for themself - that way they only come and see me if their problem was too big for them to handle.
That's what experts should be for - to step in for the things you can't or won't or choose not to do for yourself!
Remember, you can get a great massage for an hour each week, but that leaves you the other 167 hours that week to care for yourself - which do you think has more lasting impact?
I want to teach you to live better for a lifetime, every day, and that is by far a more effective path to thriving health!
Lifestyle trumps treatment every time.
Knowledge lasts a lifetime
A therapist is great, but every time you've got a problem, or if you've got something chronic you're dealing with, then you have to go back. And you have to pay another $100/hr for the gift of their time.
It's the whole teach a person to fish thing.
Learn how to treat yourself and you won't be dependent on their skill alone and you'll save a bunch of money over the long run. And even better, if you would've avoided the therapist because of the expense, now you don't have to forego treatment!
As a therapist, I always found it discouraging to have patients keep returning for the same problem - one I knew that they could manage on their own. I always preferred that a person could treat their own minor problems and only see me for the major ones (or the new ones)!
San Jose, CA
"I discovered a totally new way to take care of my body..."
“I was looking for a prissy luxurious spa experience, and instead discovered a totally new way to take care of my body. I’ve had massages at some of the best spas and facilities in the world-and none of those therapists have taken the time to guide me into better posture and greater health. Mike and Dee have taken the time to do just that. It’s going to make a big difference in my day to day life, and in my work as well. Thanks guys!!”
"I feel so much better mentally and physically..."
“This was my first time ever getting a lymphatic massage and I recently had a Brazilian butt lift and anyone that knows about that you swell tremendously, Mike (god sent) really made me feel reassured and he explained everything with so much detail that I couldn’t ask for a better massage therapist, The recovery time has had a toll on me but after seeing Mike, I feel so much better mentally and physically. Ty”
San Jose, CA
And So It Begins...
I’ve been a massage therapist for 23 years now (was 1998 really that long ago?) and as an information-junkie I’ve amassed a huge body of knowledge. The natural teacher in me always takes a new piece of knowledge, instantly looks for ways to relate it to what I already know, searched for how to synthesize it, then figures out 15 different ways to teach that concept and those relationships to other people.
Sometimes I wish I could shut my associative nature off!
From Student to Teacher
I went to the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville, CA back in 1998 and graduated with my certificate as a Massage & Holistic Health Practitioner (California CMT #27641). I then began work in San Francisco in the major 4-5 star hotels in the city. I began voraciously consuming various advanced bodywork modalities.
In 2001, I got the opportunity to co-found a boutique spa in the Westin Palo Alto (and woe is me that we did our very first appointment the night before 9/11… but that’s another story)!
In 2004, I got my first official job teaching massage therapy at Silicon Valley College (later it became Western Career College then Carrington College) and a year later I was promoted to Massage Therapy Program Director.
I treasured the time to expand my skills, constantly learn new techniques, and stay abreast of the industry. That’s where I earned my AS in Health Science, BS in Management, and an MBA with a focus in change management.
I also launched a hybrid learning program that laid the groundwork for Stresstoration’s programs. I even got to appear in a TV commercial for the school (Western Career College at the time) for about 2 seconds of fame. And yes, “you can do it!” 😛
Mike’s 2 seconds of fame. That’s me on the left.
San Jose, CA
"We rely on them to guide us back to health..."
“Turning Point Wellness [now Stresstoration] is part of the team of Medical Professionals that my family relies on to support healing and ongoing health. We rely on them to access the cause of our discomfort and to guide us through a treatment process that will bring us back to health. We have not found another body therapist that has the depth of knowledge and expertise that they have consistently provided. We are very grateful for their commitment to our long term health.”
"Finding Mike was the best thing ever..."
“Finding him [Mike] was the best thing ever. I’ve had chronic hip pain but came in for tension release in my back. Mike was very knowledgeable and walked me through why I’m having pain in my hip and back. Now I have a treatment plan that doesn’t involve doctors – who still haven’t been able to diagnose me.”
San Jose, CA
Back in Business
In 2012, the poor economy led to an unacceptable hours cut at the college, so I set out and started a new massage practice – Turning Point Wellness – with my wife and fellow therapist. I had learned a ton while teaching and was eager to put it to use.
TPW focused on high-end corrective work, addressing the problems that other therapists couldn’t or simply ignored. I’d encourage you to read the Yelp reviews (follow the above link) to see the kind of impact we had on the people we worked with – 82 5-star reviews (the testimonials on this page are from my Turning Point Wellness ownership)! I was proud to be a part of that team!
But my time teaching time wasn’t done and no more than 18 months later Carrington asked me back to come rescue the program after it ran into some trouble. So I continued teaching until 2016 the program ran out of students (less people go to school in a good economy!), but that was fine by me since I had a thriving practice that needed more of my time.
San Jose, CA
"He gave me priceless information..."
I have been working for a few years now to figure out what is causing the numbness in my hands, spending a lot of time with a chiropractor and an acupuncturist, not having any luck with either. Just one meeting with Mike and he was able to zero in on the problem area. He talked with me, worked on me, and also gave me priceless information to take home and use throughout the day to help reverse my condition. Thank you Mike! I would recommend him to anyone.”
"He's helped me understand in a way I hadn't before..."
“I can’t say enough about how talented, professional, knowledgeable and focused he is when it comes to massage. [He’s] helped tremendously with my lower back issues. What left an even greater impression was the advice on stretches and exercises he gave me after the massage. He has helped me understand my particular issues in a way I had not understood before. This place is a real stand-out – I highly recommend Mike.”
San Jose, CA
In 2019, my wife & I finally realized a dream of 15 years in moving to Colorado. It meant closing down our practice (long-distance massage therapy?! yeah, right), but allowed me the time to finally pull these trainings together. When faced with the prospect of building a new practice in Colorado, I decided that I wanted to think bigger – I could be a therapist and help 20-25 people a week (and half of those would be the same people every week) OR…
I could create these training programs and help thousands of people, maybe even millions.
Why I Do What I Do
(The Stresstoration Story)
Every hero has an origin story. And while I’m not claiming to be a hero, I really do believe that Stresstoration and these DIY programs are going to be the heroic culmination of my life’s work. The culmination of decades of development and my most significant achievement.
Now, I’ve already told you that I started Stresstoration to address a specific health & wellness gap by empowering you with the knowledge, skills, & abilities to self-treat some common problems.
This is the story about how I found that gap and what drives me to help you.
An Appreciation for Recovery
All through grade school, I was an athlete. For many years it was a cycle of Spring-Soccer, Summer-Swim, Fall-Soccer, Winter-Swim.
I learned a lot from sports – teamwork, technique matters, you can’t shortcut hard work, staying fit in the off-season means less misery in pre-season, and coaching (good & bad) can make it or break it.
Any athlete knows the pains that come with maximal effort and injuries, but in my junior year of high school I experienced that on a whole new level.
All it took was one bad slide tackle.
17 years old and a torn ACL.
Ouch! Yes, the knee dislocation was painful, but do you know what I really remember about that moment?
It wasn’t the pain. It was the sinking feeling in my stomach that I was never going to be the same again.
And I was right.
I thought at the time it meant that I would never play soccer again, maybe even never walk again (I did and I would). But in truth, it was something that changed the trajectory of my life and career.
An Introduction to Injury
It was my first real encounter with significant injury and recovery.
I was told it was a partial tear and I was too young anyway for them to operate – they were worried about stunting growth in that leg. So they put me in rehab.
I was fortunate that my high school was next to Penn State – giant university in a small town – and that meant a bunch of students needing internship sites. Translation? My high school had a large, well-equipped athletic training department and I ended up with a personal athletic trainer intern to help me with rehab for 3 months.
Although the rehab process is never fun, I experienced how much effective therapy helps with recovering from disaster and an appreciation for therapy.
I rehabbed that knee and even played soccer again in my senior year. After high school I got into martial arts and at some point I must’ve torn the ACL the rest of the way because when I was 21, it was bothersome again. When I got it checked out, sure enough, no ligament.
And that is when I became acquainted with the miseries of surgical recovery.
After the surgery, my knee swelled up to the size a volleyball and it was excruciating to lower it even to get up and go to the bathroom. Bed-ridden for 2 weeks and then a long recovery.
I wish I knew then what I know now!
- Recovery from major injury/surgery is miserable and people will do whatever they can to make it easier and go faster
- Recovery takes work – healing doesn’t always go right on its own and needs active participation
- Excellent coaching and guidance can make all the difference
- Injuries stick with you and sometimes you can’t go back
A New Philosophy
Most people think of Kung Fu movies when they think of Bruce Lee, but don’t realize that he was first and foremost a philosopher!
His martial arts prowess was fueled by deep philosophical principles that honestly translate into all aspects of life.
Concepts such as “absorb what is useful, reject what is not“, “be like water” and “the formless form” in adapting to the situation, and “stop hits” to both attack and defend with the same technique (efficiency) are just a few examples of how JKD principles revolutionized martial arts.
They resonated with me profoundly and spoke to many truths that I’d already felt, but hadn’t yet raised to conscious awareness.
JKD, and my mentor Bill Gebhardt’s (R.I.P. Sifu!) coaching, was fluid, almost scientifically intuitive, in how if it worked, we would use it and incorporate it, and if it didn’t, we’d kick it to the curb.
I loved it.
Each of the fighters there had strengths and weaknesses and we’d adapt the techniques individually to suit us.
One of the most impactful memories I have was at a Muay Thai seminar, taught by this renowned instructor. There were probably 80 of us, but somehow he managed to give us all some individual attention throughout the day.
When we were doing this one particular knee technique, he came by and made a minor adjustment to the turn of my hips and said I’d get a lot more power that way. Then he stopped me and said (imagine a thick Thai accent):
“I show you, you do it one time. Is mine.
I show you, you do it hundred times. Still mine.
I show you, you do it ten thousand times. Then yours.”
That insight on mastering the nuances of any skill was etched into my brain that day – to truly own knowledge, you have to perform it enough times to have experienced virtually every variation and subtle change that can happen. Then you can own it and adapt it to any situation.
Bruce Lee’s JKD philosophy is a major influence on my work. It’s so universal that it’s easy to apply the principles beyond martial arts.
I learned a few powerful things about myself back then:
- I found joy in mastery. I was a wonderful technician and could grasp techniques readily, incorporate them into my own style
- While forms can be a learning tool, mastery involves breaking form and personalizing skill, absorbing what is useful and adapting to context
- I found a calling as a teacher and how rewarding it is to empower others
- Theory has to be tested in the real world to see if it works or not
- I learned I just didn’t have the heart of a fighter – I loved the skill and the competition, but the handful of amateur fights I had quickly taught me that you have to want to hurt the other guy to win… and I simply didn’t.
Martial arts led directly into the next big chapter of my life – massage therapy.
As an athlete, I was already intimately familiar with the aches and pains of training and competition. I received a gift certificate for a massage and it changed my life (thanks Doris Rogalla!).
I thought it was so great, I immediately started rubbing other people’s muscles. I was told I had a natural talent and should go to massage school, something I’d never even considered before.
At the time, I was in my 4th year at PSU (We are… Penn State!) and was pretty disillusioned. I went there because my Dad worked there and tuition was super-cheap at a good school – and let’s be honest, I grew up bleeding blue and white.
Seeking a Guide
My high school had had an amazing CAD lab and I’d done architecture courses there (I love good design), but eventually learned I just liked creating stuff on computers rather than architecture. I’d wanted to get into computer animation – it was the late 90’s, Pixar was just barely even starting to be a thing, but I enjoyed it.
But… PSU didn’t have a program in it so I was doing a lot of independent study.
In one “class” I remember playing around trying out different things on a single computer model for a whole semester and got an A without completing a single thing – A for attendance (yay?).
What I was really learning after 4 years was that I hadn’t really found my passion yet. I was ripe for a change.
And that is when I got that massage.
In late July 1998 it was still early internet days, so school websites were really just addresses and I ordered program brochures from over 300 schools in the mail.
That’s right, over 300! You can’t say I’m not thorough in my research (something I continue to this day)!
I learned a lot from those packages, and almost went to Boulder (ironic I ended up in Colorado later), but chose the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville, CA.
Then, with only $800 in my pocket, a bike and a hockey bag of clothes, I dropped out of college and hopped on a train to CA without a place to stay on the other end – all within 30 days from first massage to getting to CA!
I’ve had many people over the years say that took courage. I don’t know about that. To me, when you know something is right, you just know. When you are called, you either respond or you don’t.
From there I launched a career.
I’ve worked in spas, clinical offices, hotels, corporate offices, private practice. I even opened and ran a boutique spa in a hotel in Palo Alto. I rode the Dotcom boom, the 9/11 crash, the housing crash of 2008, went bankrupt, taught, got laid off, got called back and then faced program closure.
What a ride!
- An independent spirit – I’d chosen a profession that is as much art as science, that expressed craft and rewarded mastery
- I was a healer at heart – as opposed to martial arts, I was meant to build others up in body and spirit, not break them down
- I learned how to build value through the expression of my style and creativity. Bodywork taught me to problem-solve and adapt, as well as to see both universal commonalities and individual differences in the people I worked with
- Perseverance pays off – an overnight success really is 10-15 years in the making
I got my first taste of teaching in martial arts, when I worked teaching classes in exchange for my academy membership as a teen.
I loved it.
It was so gratifying to coach others along and see their improvement as a result. While at first I thought it was just a job, I soon realized that teaching was a calling.
What is it they say? A calling is what you’d continue to do whether you got paid for it or not? Something like that. But that’s what teaching (actually empowering) is to me.
In massage school, I was trained in one-one-one coaching through minor problems. As an MT, I would always try to help people figure out what the root of their problem was and help them come up with a way to address it.
And then at Spa Solace, I had to train up our employees as well. When we walked away from the partnership with the hotel due to conflicting business goals, it was only natural that I turn to teaching.
In 2004 I started as a part-time instructor in a massage program At Silicon Valley College.
Within a year, they’d become Western Career College and I’d become the Massage Therapy Program Director – I still got to teach every day, but also teach the teachers and was part of the Educational Management Team, curriculum development, and program improvement (I have to say I enjoyed being a “professor”, but they just don’t pay teachers enough!).
Systems & Methods
While teaching, I would find problems I could solve.
One was the ridiculous amount of time spent grading homework and tests. Almost a third of my time was spent grading! It took me almost a year to implement, but I developed a hybrid online program (early Moodle LMS days) to automate that for me and got all those hours back.
I found lots of ways to do things like that and was given the freedom to do so. Intrepreneurship!
WCC was still small enough, but soon they became part of the DeVry Group (as Carrington College) and I was now a cog in a behemoth of a company.
Let’s just say that as the college got bigger, there were more and more layers of bureaucracy.
To be fair, DeVry was absolutely anal about compliance and everything had to be by the numbers and in triplicate. But that also meant standardization and now I was one of 14 campuses that had to teach exactly the same thing. To me, it seemed I had to dumb things down to the level of other campuses.
Away went my online system, I was back to paper tests, and having to write reports on the reports on the reports that I wrote. Many of my innovations went out the window. My worst nightmare.
DeVry was a giant organization and conservative, and therefore was incredibly slow to change. I could see all these ways to do things better, but was unable to get anyone to budge. It was stifling.
You know that angry frustration when you have something important to say but people won’t let you say it? (hello Wood Element) Yeah, that.
On the upside, their requirements made me go back to school so that I could “qualify” to teach the same program I’d been teaching for years.
Student Once More
I needed to have an AS, but once I got started, I continued on to a BS and then to an MBA without even stopping.
I was a much better student this time around now that I had purpose! I’ve always had a head for business and leadership, so focused in entrepreneurship, organizational design, consumer behavior, and marketing.
It helped with tools to enact what I’ve always believed about business – it’s a vehicle for change and bettering the world through relentless pursuit of value to your customers.
But, in 2011, in the midst of the economic downturn, I was offered to either go part-time (losing benefits) or take a severance.
Forging My Own Path… Again
I think it honestly surprised them that I walked.
But I was excited to leave. I started my own practice (with my lovely wife Dee), Turning Point Wellness, and was able to implement a whole new level of bodywork – advanced stuff that I’d been learning and refining for years.
Time to start doing what I’d been teaching (and wanting to teach, but couldn’t)!
In the end, it all worked out.
I got to train and coach in my practice – oh, it was good to be an entrepreneur again!
Ironically, less than 18 months later, I got a call from the college again.
They program had run into some problems and they needed me to come back and set the ship right again. It felt good to come back with a little bargaining power. When they finally phased out the program a few years later, my new baby, Turning Point Wellness, was in full swing.
- Teaching is fun, but teaching the same curriculum every day, over and over, ad nauseum is not my cup of tea
- I can only work for an organization that prizes innovation and entrepreneurial spirit – I am starting to think I’m unhirable now!
- Outcomes matter more than process (although how it’s done matters too). Process for the sake of process is pointless. Cutting costs is admirable, cutting corners is not.
- Being beholden to someone else’s vision (or shareholders) is stifling when you’re creative and they’re not. There’s something to that tech motto of “move fast and break things”! It is frustrating to see things others don’t and not be allowed to act on it
And It's All Coming Together Now
Now I was finally starting to feel like things were firing on all cylinders.
Our first go at a business, Spa Solace, back in 2001-04 was a marginal success.
We were good, but to be honest the business only survived because we were good. We had a captive audience at the hotel, but when we wanted to grow, we quickly learned that the hotel held all the cards.
We’d spent 3 years building a business we couldn’t sell and evaporated overnight when the hotel changed their mind. Ouch!
But we learned some lessons from that experience. The hallmark of good DIYers.
Fast forward 8 years…
Don’t Try to Make Your Needs Fit Someone Else’s Model
We were now very leery about the partners we worked with (and still made a mistake here), but we knew what we wanted it to be and had a much clearer picture of how to get there.
We started off in a wellness center run by some chiropractors – who it turned out were great chiropractors, but a very poor match for us as business partners. They really needed employees for their business, not partners, and their business model clashed with ours.
We ended up walking away after 4 months.
We set up our own shop and got to work.
Things took off pretty well from the get-go. We grew the business organically, by word of mouth and reputation. Yelp helped a lot because people showed us a lot of love there. Any new business starts a bit lean, so when the college called me back for a time, the work helped us over the hump.
We’d found our niche.
Great Work Attracts Great People
We integrated advanced skills in innovative ways and put together a bodywork system that built a raving fan-base.
It was truly a unique approach that drew people from around the area.
We didn’t have to advertise, people found us because they had a deep need and sought the best. I’d just smile when clients would say “I’ve tried to find someone like you guys near me, but I can’t find anything like it.” Our reputation grew.
A Whole New Method
I kept learning and integrating new things into our system – we were cupping and kinesiotaping long before they hit the mainstream.
I got busier and busier. The money was good. The people were wonderful. We were finding success in helping people with problems that they (or even their doctors) thought were hopeless.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I mean, what is?
We wanted this business to grow. We’d set out to start something that wasn’t based on just us this time. We wanted to train up a team of epic therapists to leverage our vision and extend our work…
…but it wasn’t working out.
We hired MTs, but there were always problems. We could give great training, but there wasn’t a substitute for experience – we just couldn’t translate our 15+ years of experience to a rookie and have them see what we saw.
And the MTs that had experience often had questionable training and knowledge (I was appalled at some of the interviews) – or they were good but had a completely different vision of what they wanted to do – or they had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement – or whatever.
The one therapist that worked with us for 6 years (love you, Mae!) took years longer than we expected to get up to where we wanted.
We couldn’t, for the life of us, clone ourselves and extend our work. Training the trainer had failed.
As time went on we found that as much as we’d tried, the business was still entirely about us.
It was our reputation, our skill, our personalities, and our work that was the essence of the business.
My wife had played along and supported my dream, but she was wanting out to go do something else with her life. So it was starting to be just about me.
And the busier we were in the business, the less time I had to work on the business.
A full schedule of clients was preventing me from innovating and developing the systems I had in mind for the future. And I was only able to help 20-25 people per week.
I realized I’d created a job for myself, ourselves, not a business.
How to Reach More People… More Effectively?
I was on the hamster wheel of constantly trading my hours for dollars and I couldn’t stop if we wanted to eat. I was facing burnout. I was also getting a little disillusioned again – this time about the fact that much of my work didn’t seem to last.
Don’t get me wrong, we had amazing success in fixing problems and often people would go a year or two before needing to come back in, but the work felt ephemeral to me – I was aiming at a moving target.
I was often fond of joking “if you see me 1 hour a week, that gives you 167 hours to undo all my work”, but more and more that rang true.
As much as I would rail against the evils of just treating symptoms and actually addressing the root of the problem, I found that the better we got, the more people would seek us out for corrective work.
Talk about irony!
I was feeling the overwhelming need to make my work more lasting and transformational than fleeting and transactional.
The Best Clients
I did notice that there was a certain kind of client who was really having success at achieving what I was truly working towards… thriving wellness.
They asked the questions, sought out the expert advice, received the treatments, but most importantly… they put in the work.
We’d always give lifestyle tips – exercises, stretches, postural adjustments, habit-forming activities – to target specific obstacles to clients’ wellness, but it was the people who actually did them that got better. Who’d have thought, right?
I helped people make connections they’d missed or couldn’t see, doled out knowledge targeted to their problem, and helped formulate plans to get better.
It was the people who were engaged in their own healing that succeeded.
They took the knowhow and ran with it, then they would only need to come see me for tuneups or for problems that were beyond their abilities or for new things they hadn’t learned yet.
And I was finding those sessions the most enjoyable.
The sessions where a person came in and just wanted “fixing” without doing or changing anything on their own were the sessions I came to dread. The sessions where I partnered and guided and provided insights were the most rewarding.
What Client’s Wanted to Succeed
I asked clients what they most needed and they’d say it was my knowledge more than my bodywork (although they didn’t want to give that up).
But I was repeating myself a lot.
I was finding these universal themes and providing individual applications, but there was a lot of redundancy and that violates my sense of efficiency. I’d show the same things to 5 different people in a week. I’d put on a class and only 2 people would be able to make it when I had 20 clients who needed it. I’d show someone something and they’d forget and have to see it again.
I knew there had to be a better way.
A Pain in the Neck
(It starts coming apart again)
In late 2017, my body decided to teach me a lesson – with a vengeance.
I’d been rear-ended twice in 3 months in 2011 and ended up with a flattened cervical curve that decided it’d had enough. I’d sledgehammered some concrete in the backyard and exactly 35 hours later the pain started. I remember because it woke me up at 4am screaming at me (or was I screaming at it?).
I didn’t know what it was at first, it felt like a massive spasm in my right shoulder blade (my rhomboid/trapezius if you want to be technical).
I Had Questions And Couldn’t Find Answers
The weird thing was that it didn’t respond to any of the normal approaches – ice/heat, massage, cupping, taping, exercise, anti-inflammatories… I was throwing everything at it. I went to the doctor and even tried muscle relaxers and heavier pain killers. Vicodin dulled the pain a bit, but nothing fixed it.
That’s when it started spreading.
First to the shoulder. Then the tricep. Then my forearm started feeling like a hot iron was being crushed down on it and my thumb, index, and middle fingers were pins & needles fiery painful.
I couldn’t maintain an upright position for more than 2-3 minutes without the pain building up to torturous levels. I’d pinched a nerve and I don’t wish nerve pain on anybody. If you’ve never experienced it, I don’t recommend it.
I was desperate.
Desperate in the way only someone in excruciating pain could be desperate.
I found that the only position that gave me any relief was with my chin pulled tight down to my chest. Straightening my head was an instant recipe for searing pain. That made getting the MRI of my neck one of the most tortuous experiences of my life – trying to hold my head straight and still for 15 minutes.
I’m sweating again just typing this.
The MRI showed a bulged disc between C5 & C6.
That was a rough 3 months.
In desperation, I ended up getting 2 cortisone injections and was taking 9 Gabapentin a day – none of which would I recommend, but I sympathize with the desperation induced by severe, unrelenting pain.
Couldn’t Work, But Had to Work
And to make matters worse, I was only able to take a week off of work (hours for dollars, remember?) and had to massage with my head tucked down.
I knew then that I couldn’t rely on being a massage therapist for much longer.
It was frustrating to have all of the knowledge and mastery I’d built be at the whims of accident and injury.
If my body were to break down, my income would vanish. And just to double down on the risk, my wife was also having some recurrent health issues and missed some work too. Our livelihood was dependent on us not getting hurt or sick… ever!
And our clients were also counting on us to never get hurt or sick too – if we couldn’t work, they were out of luck as well. And I believe in win-win, not lose-lose!
Always, in the back of my mind was the nagging fear that all of the expertise that I’d worked so hard and long to achieve would simply vanish if I quit.
I hadn’t been able to train other therapists to “be me”, so the great results I was getting for my patients was at risk for evaporating just like our old spa. I’d found a solution that couldn’t be found anywhere else and what was going to happen to it when I retired or couldn’t practice it anymore?
There just had to be a better way!
The Seed Had Been Planted Already
Luckily, my mental gears had been at work through all this time and the seeds had already been planted for the next phase of my life & career – Stresstoration and a host of DIY self-care programs.
I knew that if I could draw on universal principles, extract the essence of my treatment method, devise a systematic way to individualize those tools into custom wellness treatments & plans, then I’d really have something. I personally could continue to coach clients in need, my way, with my insight in a permanent form as videos, courses, tools, and books.
Stresstoration and my DIY program series was born.
What I'm All About (the TL;DR)
I know it’s been a long and winding story, but if you’ve read this far thank you and congratulations! Here’s your payoff.
All those formative experiences led to this moment in time, the culmination of a life’s work – for you.
Stresstoration is my calling.
It’s the synergy of my passion for health & wellness, my calling to teach & empower others, and my quest for efficient & effective solutions.
It was my answer to:
- Empower health & wellness through self-care, DIY training that’s more efficient & as/more effective than relying on professional services alone
- Reduce pain & suffering by simplifying advanced tools & integrating knowledge across disciplines into easy-to-use systems
- Create transformational wellness programs to make expert knowledge & skill available & accessible anytime, anywhere, forever – systems that apply universal themes to empower customized wellness plans. Teach directly to individuals, not one-to-one, but one-to-many
- Amplify impact by putting those programs online to reach millions more people than I can meet one-on-one
- Teach natural, DIY tools that provide options beyond drugs and surgery for people to experience both relief and a vastly better quality of life
- Restore balance and perspective to lives under constant bombardment with distractions & stress
- DIY Lymph Massage – (Available Now) Lymphatic Facilitation is a powerful recovery tool for surgery, injury, chronic illness, pregnancy, and even travel. Due to the frequency of treatment and potential scarcity of specialist help near you, it can be costly and impractical to only rely on professional treatment. DIY Lymph Massage fills the gap with an affordable, always accessible self-care solution that can replace or enhance getting lymphatic massage with a professional. By tonight, you could be treating your own swelling & inflammation and getting relief!
- Stresstoration – (In Development) A unique stress mastery system that is literally a restoration from stress. Stresstoration takes a top-down approach by helping to formulate an overall health & wellness strategy, identifying personal weak spots & gaps, and ensuring a balanced investment of key wellness activities for optimal living. Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and find your personal path to wellness and a thriving life. It’s a combination of personality and lifestyle assessment, strategic goal-setting, and prioritized tactical activity that creates a roadmap to a new, better, more vibrant you.
- DIY Trigger Point Therapy – (Coming Soon) Trigger points are a significant source of pain and grief and chronically recurring issues, but I know from my clients that they are difficult to get help with and also mysterious to both them and the healthcare providers that were supposed to help them! Poor information and downright wrong information abounds and this program clears up the mystery and offers incredibly effective self-treatments for these little buggers. Get a handle on your chronic or recurring pain in a way you’ve never experienced before!
- DIY Kinesiotaping – (Coming Soon) Kinesiotape is a powerful, useful tool – but you have to know how to use it! Whether it’s pain or posture, circulation or movement repatterning, you can effectively apply this to yourself or loved one, at-home. A natural pain fighter and a lasting treatment, once you know what it does and how to use it, you’ll be stuck on it! There is a segment on edema taping in the DIY Lymph Massage Program already!
- DIY Cupping – (Coming Soon) Like taping, cupping is another powerful tool that you can use in your own self-care with some simple, inexpensive tools and a little knowhow. Use negative pressure to address pain, inflammation, swelling, and movement restrictions like scarring, on your own!
- DIY Dynamic Flexibility – (Coming Soon) There is so much more to flexibility than most people realize. If you think it’s just about extreme range of motion, you’ve got it all wrong! True flexibility is a balance between mobility and stability. Dynamic flexibility involves using different stretching techniques – active and passive – combined with properly engaging neurological control & reflex mechanisms to promote proper movement structures & control. The same principles for rehabilitating these structures can be used to improve them!