Neil Holmes: My Journey from Pain to Pain Relief

Neil Holmes: My Journey from Pain to Pain Relief

February 20, 2023

Picture this…. 20 year old me, Neil Holmes, working as a football coach. Yep, that’s right! I didn’t always want to do what I do now… nor did I think I’d be pursuing the career course that I did. But one day in 2002 changed my life forever.

The Day That Changed My Life

It was Friday afternoon on May 24, 2002 and football practice had just ended. Despite being in my coaching clothes, I hopped on my motorcycle and started my ride home. I’d done it before, so it didn’t seem like not having something protective on would be a big deal.

I’d made it about a mile down the street when the truck in front of me turned. Another truck near the local gas station took this as their opportunity to pull out and cross Manatee Avenue.

He didn’t see me.

And I had no time to stop. 

I hit the front side of the truck, flew over the hood and landed right on my shoulder.

I could feel something wrong with my shoulder but the pain from the road rash overtook my senses. My clothing from football practice stood no chance, and didn’t protect me at all.

So off to the hospital I went.

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I arrived at the hospital knowing that they’d need to clean the dirt from my wounds – and let me tell you, road rash wounds are no joke. I remember the nurse putting numbing cream on me – which, for the record, didn’t numb anything in the least… it just burned. As she cleaned the cuts, I couldn’t help but feel as if she had an old, steel SOS pad and was scraping away at my skin.

It was the most excruciating thing I’d ever been through.

Neil Holmes – My Road to Recovery

After I got out of the hospital and recovered a bit, I got an attorney about my accident and was sent off to an accident clinic. I was getting everything done through the clinic: physical therapy, chiropractic, electric stem, ultrasound, decompression, traction, you name it. Whatever they had there I was getting it.

But, the problem was that I was going there 2 to 3 times a week and after 3 months, I was still in so much pain.

Nothing changed.

I was still broken.

Eventually, I reached what I thought was my breaking point. So I told the doctor point-blank: “I’m not coming back here anymore. I’m only 20 years old. I hurt all over. I’m broken. I’m done.”

And the next thing the doctor said to me had my eyes rolling so hard they might’ve stuck at the back of my skull if I rolled them half an inch more.

“Let’s try some massage work.” And yes, he was serious.

“So I’m going to get a white robe? What about the cucumbers for my eyes?” was my response.

Because for me, that was my perception of massage therapy; spoiled people being oiled all over while they sat down in chairs with a moscato or something.

But I signed up anyway. 

Probably because at that point I was so down on my luck and pessimistic about everything I just decided to go and prove to myself–and the doctor that it was just a big, fat, waste of time.

And at that point, I didn’t know that the doctor’s five words would change my life forever. 

My First Session

At my first session, it didn’t take too long for me to start making snarky comments and remarks. When the massage therapist came in, one comment happened to be something along the lines of “Don’t hurt yourself.” 

In turn, she made sure to let me know just how much pain she could inflict.

I remember having to tap out a couple of times because of how painful it was, and it was then  I realized just how bad my muscles were.

But as bad as that whole ordeal was, it only took me 4 sessions. By the 4th session, I was probably 75-85 % better, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why.

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Why was this massage therapy, something that I never believed in in the first place, working after just 4 sessions? It made no sense as to why the 3 months I was getting adjusted, doing exercises and getting all the rest of the bells and whistles didn’t do anything, yet the massage work did.

I knew at that point that I had so much learning and more importantly – unlearning – to do.

Everyone has some learning or unlearning to do no matter how much they know or think they know, and for me, realizing this took me to the next phase of my journey.

Starting Out

A few years after the accident, I started going to a massage school. My experience at the massage therapist had really stuck with me. After being literally put back together through massage therapy, even after my total disbelief and wise cracks, I realized something important.

I want to help people, just as somebody helped me. Somebody put me back together, and now, I wanted to be that person for somebody else.

That train of thought was enough for me to apply for (and keep going) through massage school.

After going through and finishing massage school, I started working for a chiropractor. Working in the chiropractor’s office was great. I learned so much and met so many kind people in my time there.

There was a seemingly endless supply of people who either had car accidents or who were just using regular insurance. I was seeing these same people over and over and over. And it’s in that time, and treating those countless people that I discovered something really important:

Where you feel pain and where it hurts are two different places.

Because as I worked on these patients repeatedly, I would work through areas where they felt pain, yet when I saw them next, the pain was still there and hadn’t changed.

As I built relationships with these people, I started using trial and error and testing different massage points on them. With time, I discovered how to get creative and reverse engineer their pain patterns. I was able to try and say “Okay, this person came in with back pain, let me work here. Did that work? Oh, it didn’t. Now what happens when I try a different area?”

Get back to doing the things you love without pain! Get your voucher for a low back and sciatic pain assessment now! Space is limited – don’t miss out!

When that would work with one person, I would try that on the next person. However, I realized that it was different for each person. So with each client, I learned a different pattern. Slowly, I started to discover how the pain patterns were working.

Eventually, I branched out on my own after a couple of years. I believed I had something that might be able to help everyone. What started off as a normal, reluctant massage had turned into understanding how these different pain patterns worked and where they started.

Branching Out

When everyone starts out, they all think they’ve got it all figured out.

In reality, they don’t.

I was no exception either.

When I started out, what worked for one or two people wouldn’t work for the next one. And so everything was constant trial and error, trying to figure out stuff like “where else could things be starting?’ or ‘What other muscle groups are involved?”

It was a real struggle at the beginning because there was nothing really setting me apart from the other massage clinics down the road that did great relaxation and spa work. It was like this for a pretty long time.

Over time, I kept learning and figuring out how muscular pain patterns worked and I started to make headway.

Back To The Fundamental Principle

I began to understand that different muscle groups can cause pain elsewhere– which brings us back to the fundamental principle of ‘feeling pain vs where it actually hurts are two different places’. I just had to know which groups of muscles worked with each other and how to work on them.

As time has gone on, I know that I really have niched down into understanding that there’s a sequence in how muscles work, because you can still work the same set of muscle groups but if you do them in the wrong sequence, you don’t get the same exact outcome.

In retrospect, I never thought for one second that I’d ever say this, but a lot can happen with time.

Shortly after my accident, when I was in the worst state of my mind and body, if someone came up to me and asked how I was feeling, I could only offer a dark response.

Now, it’s been over 15 years and I’m extremely grateful for that accident because it really has put me on this path to where I am now. I transformed from a highschool football coach to owning my own business and spending all my time researching pain, pain patterns, and how to eliminate that. I’ve made it my mission to help people who are in the same place that I was to get their lives back – back to being pain free. And I plan to continue my mission for many years to come.

Get back to doing the things you love without pain! Get your voucher for a low back and sciatic pain assessment now! Space is limited – don’t miss out!

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