My Massage Journey Thus Far
Craig Knowles, BCTMB, LMT, CNMT
I was first introduced to massage therapy back in 1987, when I was 11 years old. I was training as a gymnast in Albany, Georgia, when I was asked if I was interested in working with a sports massage therapist after practice sessions. I was introduced to Vivian Davis and that, unknown to me at the time, would change my life course dramatically. We began our sessions, and immediately I saw the benefits of massage in my body’s recovery time and flexibility. At the time, I did not understand the “why” or the “how” it worked, I just knew that it did. I was amazed and began to mimic the massage techniques I was learning on my family members (those that would let me). It probably helped that I had a very strong grip strength for an 11-year-old, thanks to the gymnastics training. When I was about 12, after working on her, my Aunt Angie told me that this definitely should be my career. I thought she had lost her mind—because the only massage therapists I knew were females.
I never considered or pursued massage therapy as a career. In fact, I started in construction when I was 15 years old, and then attained a scholarship for industrial electrical at 17, when I was a senior in high school. I definitely was not on a path to lead me to massage therapy—or was I? After I was accepted into the Co-Op Electrical Program at South Georgia Tech, I was stationed at Phoebe Putney Hospital for my externship. Being in a medical environment again got me thinking about my days as a gymnast and the benefits I received from massage. I never did get the answers to “why” or the “how” massage was able to make such a difference. At the age of 19, I decided I had waited for those answers long enough. After looking at multiple programs, I chose to attend New Life Institute, now known as Rising Spirit Institute, in January of 1996.
My massage training almost ended as soon as it began. One day after school, I was turning through a 4-way stop and was in a head-on collision with a truck that ran his stop sign. I was so concerned that this was going to be the end of my training. Instead, it turned into a blessing. One of my instructors took my accident as an opportunity to teach myself and the other students of the benefits that massage therapy can have on the body’s recovery rate. It was amazing to finally be able to get the answers I had been searching for so many years.
Shortly after my graduation from New Life Institute, I found myself back in my hometown. I had kept in touch with Vivian over the years, and had the wonderful opportunity to work with the woman who had started my massage path so many years earlier. I became the manager for her office, as well as the massage therapy department for a local outpatient center. At the hospital, the same one that I had previously worked as an electrician (ironic), I worked with the Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Pediatrics departments. I began to have to see patients with all sorts of postural distortions and biomechanical dysfunctions. This drove me to want to learn and do more in my profession. I began to research and come up with treatment protocols for each type of problem as they came.
Because of all the extra studying I was doing, I began to study for and received my National Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork in 2000. This certification led me to understand the importance of protecting the profession I love. Because of this, I wanted to be more active in my field to help educate the public on the true benefits of massage. I started with the AMTA on their Government Relations Committee. I then was asked to be a part of the Ethics and Standards Committee. This resulted in my involvement and collaboration with various committees with the NCBTMB.
Nineteen years later, I am now an instructor, practicing therapist, CE provider, and an organizational volunteer. In my many years as a Massage Therapist, I have seen abuse, disrespect, and apathy among some who profess to be Massage Therapists and the public who have hindered the profession’s deserved recognition. My desire and enthusiasm for Massage Therapy Education has not waned. I am instilling the same passion for the profession in my students as I continue to hold it within myself. I started my company, Knowles Rehabilitation, as an opportunity to share the knowledge and experience with others, just as it was shared with me. As my knowledge and experience continues to grow, my appreciation and pride of the essential work and accomplishments in the field of Massage Therapy has deepened. I want to see my profession rise to the levels I would be proud to have my son be a part of—who, by the way, has wanted to be massage therapist like his dad since he was five years old.
- Albany High School (Albany, Ga) — 1990-1994
- South Georgia Tech (Americus, Ga) — 1994-1996
- New Life Institute (Atlanta, Ga) — 1996
- Siena Heights University Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science and Health Care Management — Set to graduate in Dec 2015
Organizations and Activities:
- 2014 – Present: Board Certified Massage Therapist
- 2013 – Present: Georgia Board of Massage Therapy
- 2014 – Present: NCBTMB Approved Provider Committee
- 2011 – 2012: Chair of School Outreach for the NCBTMB
- 2000 – 2014: Nationally Certified Massage Therapist
- 2007 – Present: Georgia State Current Licensure
- 2009 – Present: NCBTMB Continuing Education Provider
- 2006 – Present: NCBTMB Ethics & Standards Committee
- 2008 – 2012: NCBTMB Government Relations Committee
- 2009 – 2012: NCBTMB Exam Development
- 2007 – 2009: Government Relations Georgia Representative for AMTA