Running for Research!


Nathan Nordstrom and John Combe are Running for Research this April! The Massage Therapy Foundation is participating in the John Hancock Non-Profit Bib Program to bring awareness to the benefits of massage and the need for more massage research funding. Get to know these two AMTA members training to run the Boston Marathon.


Now veterans of the profession, how did you first choose massage therapy?

J: From a very early age I knew I wanted to help people! My uncle was a chiropractor, so I was mentored around complementary medicine. After finishing my pre-med studies, I was amazed at the options for focusing on treatment of soft tissue. At that time, massage therapy was an "up and coming” profession. Sixteen years later, I know I picked the best profession for me.

N: When I started dating my now wife, she asked me what I wanted to do as a career. I had no clue. She worked with me to find out what I was interested in. She had a friend who had just graduated from massage therapy school, and I discovered that was the job for me.

Where do you practice now? 

J: My current office is a wellness center that I have owned and operated for the last 15 years. I specialize in medical/ sports treatment massage. I have also been involved with athlete care at the elite level for the last 10 years. I worked the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic trials, focusing on track and field athletes. Sports massage is vital to athletes for recovery and injury prevention. I’m very passionate about it. I’ve provided massage to elite-level distance runners; it is part of their routine. 

N: Fast forward 14 years: I am  now a school administrator for the therapeutic massage program at Virginia College in Savannah, Georgia. I have been helping new and incoming massage therapists with their education and initial licensure. I also teach continuing education for Educated Touch. My specialties are ethics and advanced kinesiology. I love seeing a student or massage therapist get that “AH-HA!” moment!

You are both serving on the National Board. How has AMTA impacted your career?

J: First of all being an active member in AMTA has led to a huge portion of my success. And I never stop taking educational classes. I could not imagine my career without being involved in AMTA!

N: When I was in massage school an instructor told us, we should join AMTA. I took that to mean associate, connect and pay my dues. I started volunteering after moving back to Oregon. I continue volunteering every day. After my experiences volunteering with the chapter, I noticed many of the same challenges are not state specific. This made me want to support AMTA by participating on the national level.  

I believe AMTA is a group of massage therapists that are trying to better the daily challenges that face our profession. If we work together we can build a common voice. I am so blessed to able to help.

The Boston Marathon is just two months away! How's training going?

J: Thankfully, winter has not been a challenge for my training yet! I have always enjoyed running so training is going great. Running is a constant. I don’t keep track of races, and, after 20 years, I’ve completed quite a few marathons! 

N: I need to let people know, I am not a runner! I challenged my students volunteering at a marathon to give 250 massages. They far exceeded my challenge, so I started training for the next year’s Rock n' Roll marathon. At the end of my training, I started having friends ask if I was going to run the Boston Marathon for the Massage Therapy Foundation. I was not even sure I would be able to finish the one still on my plate. I finished with a huge smile on my face, and I have been trying to maintain my condition. 

What motivated you to sign up for this marathon and fundraising experience?

J: I have always been passionate about MTF.  After volunteering for a number of years to help raise funds for research, it felt natural to put my name in the hat. Boston is most runners' dream! 

N: Anyone who knows me knows I love fundraising for MTF. I signed up because I believe research is one of the best ways for our profession to be legitimized within the medical professions. My dream is for doctors to say, “Oh good, there is a massage therapist on staff. Please send this patient to them for soft tissue manipulation.”

I am asking for your help and support. Massage therapy as a profession needs research to show it is a viable health care profession. If you are a massage therapist, a student or an avid client, please donate to this cause. I hope to find 2,000 people like you to donate a minimum of $15 to help move this profession forward.

DONATE! Support John and Nate



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"The support I’ve received at the various levels of my career has been key in helping me get to the place I am today."

Lee S., AMTA member since 1995

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