Pain Management & Neuromuscular Therapist
Leif Grunseth attended UC Berkeley on a full-ride wrestling scholarship, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Forestry in 1976. He began working for Weyerhaeuser Corporation right out of college and in 1980, and after becoming certified as a log scaler with the Columbia River Log Scaling Bureau, a job opportunity became available in Alaska. He ended up moving to Ketchikan, Alaska where he was the log export supervisor for a small, Native timber corporation, Cape Fox Corporation.
In 1983, he was badly injured on a logging road accident after a collision with a log yard dump truck, sustaining life-threatening internal injuries and multiple leg and hip fractures. Three months in bed and a year later, recuperating around his family in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the advice of a friend, he began to receive massage therapy for the unremitting pain he was still experiencing when off the pain medications. In the first session, he felt a substantial relief from the pain. When he asked the massage therapist how it was that her treatment was able to lower the pain so noticeably, she really couldn’t explain. She had started massage school just 3 weeks before and was just doing basic strokes.
He asked himself that if someone could get him out of pain and not know what they were doing, what would happen if you knew what you were doing?!
So in 1985, he decided to change the direction of his life and go to massage school. He enrolled in the National Holistic Institute in Oakland, CA. which was one of the few AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) curriculum-approved schools on the West Coast – the AMTA being the standard bearer for educated, skilled, and ethical massage therapy training in the U.S. since the 1940s.
After his year-long training, he moved to the Seattle area in 1986 to be near the mountains and the more relaxed pace of the Puget Sound area. He received his WA State Massage License that year and in addition, qualified as an AMTA National Sports Massage Team member.
In 1987, he founded the Washington State Sports Massage Team (WSMT) to provide direction and sports massage training for therapists wishing to work with athletes; and also for therapists to gain proficiency to test for the AMTA National Sports Massage Team. His model for setting up and running the Washingtion State Sports Massage Team became a replica for many other western states in developing their sports massage teams. Also in 1987, as a National Sports Massage Team Member, he was picked to work at the Pan American Games in Indianapolis, and in 1988, the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
With exposure to working with elite athletes in international competition, Leif began searching nationally for the best clinical massage training available, feeling he needed more in-depth knowledge and hands-on skills for injury treatment. He knew personally the debilitating effects of pain and wanted to understand not only the root causes but also more strategies in eliminating pain for his athletes and patients.
As chance would have it, he attended the 1988 AMTA National Convention in Chicago to listen to a 3-hour presentation by keynote speaker, Paul St. John, on the St. John Method of Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT), considered by many to be the premier clinical massage, post-grad program in the country. In his lecture, St. John systematically used scientific, neurological laws to show how to restore proper function in the body and eliminate pain (the very reason people see doctors, use medication, and suffer!).
St. John was no stranger to pain, himself being seriously injured three times in his life, first as a Green Beret medic in Vietnam; the last one in an auto accident leaving him in chronic, debilitating pain. After four years of chiropractic, neurology, osteopathy, and even psychiatry, he had found no permanent relief from his pain until he began studying pain mechanisms, spending many hours in medical libraries researching the functioning of the nervous system and the neurological laws that govern the workings of the body. He said that if you looked in any medical textbook under the word “pain”, you would never see more than a few pages in the book, in total, explaining pain’s origin. Pain is why most people see a doctor and the medical books have little written about it!
The packed auditorium was held spell-bound by the presentation and it was abundantly clear that the profession of massage therapy held a key role in creating an exceptional model for pain relief, pain management, and a return to optimal health.
Certified Neuromuscular Therapist
In 1989, Leif became certified as a St. John NMT therapist and ended up sponsoring the St. John seminars to the Pacific NW for over a decade, being part of its greatest growth and maturation with Paul St. John’s continuing research and workshop development.
In 1990, Leif’s experience and background in sports massage widened when he was chosen as Coordinator for all Sports Massage activities at the Goodwill Games in Seattle; and that same year, the AMTA awarded him the National Meritorious Award for his contributions in the field of Sports Massage. He also worked as a Sports Massage Therapist for the Seattle SuperSonics during their playoff run from 1991-93; and in 1996, participated as a Sports Massage Therapist at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Over the next 20 years, he taught at four Washington State massage schools as a visiting instructor in Sports Massage and clinical massage techniques.
In 1998, Leif returned to the classroom and became a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) to augment his education in injury assessment and treatment. Other studies he has undertaken helped create a widespread knowledge in nutrition, diet, and health allowing him to craft unique health protocols for his athletes and patients. His rich and varied background has made him a much sought-after speaker at state and national conventions over the last 25 years.
Leif is currently in private practice in Bellevue, Washington. He remains tremendously passionate and enthusiastic in helping patients reclaim healthy, happy, energetic, and pain-free lives.