Alumni News, Massage Therapy

Alum Story: Jason Erickson is All About Pain Science

Jason Erickson ‘06 has a massage therapy practice based in pain science. Having completed more than 1500 continuing education hours, he’s learned many different modalities, but for him, it all comes down to understanding pain.  

“It’s something that supersedes any kind of modality because it applies to all healthcare professionals,” he explained. “I come back to pain science because it’s given me the most cohesive explanation to account for the widest range of things I’ve learned to do in my practice.”  

Approaching pain treatment from a biopsychosocial lens, Jason uses everything from basic to advanced techniques to support his patients. He shares this knowledge prolifically: speaking at national and international conferences, teaching CE seminars for massage therapists and other manual therapy professionals, teaching at schools, and serving as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. 

I can really geek out about pain science and how to help people with chronic pain because I lived that life. I know what it’s like to be a patient and I want therapists to understand how to help those patients.”  

First Hand Experience with Chronic Pain

Jason had a successful career in business when he became a chronic pain patient. It reached the point where he could barely drive or type, and chiropractic care and massage therapy helped him manage his pain. He got into movement and eventually became a Circular Strength Training Instructor on the side, offering free classes in the park.  

He noticed that some class participants needed more than he could offer in a group setting. “And I realized pretty quickly that those were the people I enjoyed working with the most. Every tiny increment of improvement was a celebration.” He became a personal trainer, then started massage therapy school and quit his full time job. 

Success Stories in his Eagan Practice 

Fast forward, Jason has worked as a massage therapist for 18 years. He co-owns Eagan Massage Center with fellow NWHSU alum Kelly Thompson. Together, they employ 20 therapists, including NWHSU alum Jonae Sutton. Jason hopes to hire more NWHSU grads. Jason sees patients three days a week in appointments up to two hours long, sometimes longer. He can work very quickly, but prefers to move slowly to give the tissue more time to respond, and he sees results. 

Jason works with many athletes, and every year supports elite runners at the Twin Cities Marathon and Grandma’s marathon. He has great stories of patients qualifying for the Olympics or being recruited as a professional dancer.  

But some of his favorite success stories are about helping clients get back to their everyday tasks. “You know, a grandma who told me that she was finally able to pick up her grandchild and hold her without being afraid of dropping her,” he shared. “Or the restaurant owner who told me she was able to keep her business open because her shoulder wasn’t bothering her so much.”

This story first appeared as part of “Touching Chronic Pain” in CONNECT: NWHSU’s Alumni & Friends Publication