John Lia worked a miracle for me.  I can run again.

 I’ve been running five miles almost every day for thirty years. I ran the day of my wedding, I ran the day of my father’s funeral.  I ran when my son’s were born.  I went to Baghdad and ran with the soldiers.

I’d had injuries.   Everybody has injuries.  But they didn’t last.  Then, suddenly—at the start of 2008—I couldn’t do it.  I was approaching sixty, but the run remained an essential element of the day.  I’d finished 50 odd marathons.  Many of my friends are runners.  My wife and I ran eight marathons together.  I write for Runner’s World.

Actually,  I still could run.  It’s just that  afterwards I couldn’t walk.  I  took off an unprecedented six days.  I hadn’t taken six days off in years.  I still couldn’t run.  I’m superstitious enough to think that it was because I’d just published a book with Rodale, which was all about running.  I love to run.  I love to write.   Now I’d put them together.  Did that make the Gods angry?  Did it look like Hubris?

I had qualified to run the  Boston Marathon again this year.  First I thought, “It’ll only take two months to get back in shape.”  Then I thought, “One month is all I really need.”  I saw chiropractors. I saw a doctor and went through a course of physical therapy.  I’d get better, seem better, then I’d go for a long run and be limping again.

I had a theory that it was my piriformis  muscle.  That would explain why the pain started at my hip and ran down to my ankle.  I studied pictures of the piriformis on the web.  I went on line and ordered a blue plastic triangle to sit on. When I drove, I left my right foot alone—it was my right piriformis.  I used my left foot for the break and the accelerator too.    
I had Xrays and even an MRI.  There was nothing obviously wrong with the mechanics.  The doctor suggested I have cortisone injections in my spinal column.

Then a friend met John at Altheus.  “He’s a clinical massage therapist,” she told me.  “He knows all about the piriformis.”

So I went to  John Lia.  He seemed to understand what was wrong.  My piriformis was tight, but he could release my piriformis.   He then worked on all the other muscles that had been restricted.  Part of the problem was in my lower back.

John calls what he does clinical  massage. He told me what he was doing.  He also listened.   So when I heard that self-massage with a foam roller might help, he was all for it.  When I reported that I was going to work on strengthening my core, he was for that too.

It’s not that I hadn’t  asked other people  for help.  I know how to ask questions.    I’ve been a reporter and a magazine editor.  I’ve free-lanced  for The New York Times, The New Yorker.  I’ve published more than half a dozen books.   And I care deeply about running.  At yet I was stopped and I was stumped.

I’m running again.  I’m  stretching more and working on my core.  But in the meantime I’m running.  
-Benjamin Cheever

August 2008

   Dear John,

   I just wanted to tell you how much you helped me.  When I came to you for an introductory massage a few months ago, I had no idea I would be so lucky to have my right shoulder back in good working condition!!!!  

I had tried everything (short of surgery) to relieve my ‘frozen shoulder’.  The orthopedic surgeon had given me two cortisone shots with no results.  He finally referred me to physical therapy, which insurance approved for 4 months.  I still did not have the results I expected.  The range of motion was still minimal and the discomfort was quite noticeable.  I was frustrated and unhappy with physical therapy as well. 

Some months went by and I finally took advantage of an offer I got in the mail.  A local gym was promoting 2 training sessions, a fitness evaluation and a therapeutic massage for non-members.  The last offer seemed hard to refuse.  Then I got lucky enough to get an appointment with you. 

I not only felt immediately comfortable with you, I was physically impressed with your clinical expertise.  You soon convinced me that you would be able to help me with my shoulder.  You explained all the issues very clearly, were patient with my resistance, and although you knew it would be a challenge, convinced me that you could make a difference.  I trusted your opinion and decided to give it a try. 

Over the next couple of months, you continued to do your magic and instill in me a positive attitude about the healing process; no one had ever done that before.  I began to improve within the first few sessions!  I was on the road to recovery!  It felt great to have my right arm back; open doors, reach for things, sleep on my right side again!  I had gotten so used to compensating; I forgot how good it felt to have use of two arms again! 
You took the time to show me exercises to supplement the massages and I practiced them at home, which you always asked about.  Within 3 months I had almost 95% of my range of motion back and the pain was non-existent.  

I just wanted to thank you for your help and guidance.  I look forward to continued maintenance - you give excellent massages!  

Very Truly Yours,


On February 5, 2008 I underwent a full left hip replacement operation.  For a few months I experienced an annoying ache, like a muscle knot in the hip.  My surgeon confused he couldn't help me simply recommended advil. 

A friend recommended John Lia.  After several treatments with John my discomfort is gone.  John's hands of steel and great skill certainly did the job, plus he loves his work and is a fine coach/therapist.

Alan Sklar

July 2010

Climbing Stairs

It was going to be a large family gathering.  My wife, Marie had been cooking for two days.  My job today, was furniture mover.  I must have climbed the stairs at least six times and never gave it a second thought.  Then, (to myself) I said : "WOW - Kudos to you John Lia".

There was a time many months earlier when climbing stairs was extremely difficult.  I was experiencing substantial pain in my left hip.  The only way to climb stairs without pain, was to continuously start with my my right foot.  My doctor thought it was either bursitis, arthritis, or tendinitis. He sent me to the orthopedist in the group practice.  A shot in the hip, celebrex, and rehab, were the way things proceeded.  Two and three times a week I was in rehab. An MRI found nothing wrong.

Besides the torture in climbing stairs, sleeping was an additional problem.  The pain in the hip, made it impossible to sleep on either side.  Using pillows, cushions, etc., proved useless.  Finally, lying on my back was the only way I could fall asleep.  However, during the night I would inevitably turn on one side or the other, and the pain would awaken me.

After twelve weeks of rehab and no change in the level of pain, I turned to John.  During the first several weeks, I was able to climb stairs without pain on the day of, and the day after treatment.  Steadily the pain-free days increased.  After several months, the pain was gone - completely.

Thank you again John, you're the best.

Joe Mckiernan