Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
You enter into a calm, quiet waiting room. The massage therapist guides you to a dimly lit room with ambient music and an essential oil diffuser. After a brief consultation, they leave the room. You undress to your comfort level, crawl onto the massage table, and sink into the warmth of the covers surrounding you. With a knock on the door, the therapist returns. They begin the massage and, soon, you have fallen into a relaxing sleep.
If you just pictured a fancy spa with mini waterfalls, women with cucumbers on their eyes, and cashmere robes, you aren’t alone. When Andria Burton started her journey into massage therapy, she had to shift her thinking from luxury item to therapeutic benefits.
The Long, Painful Road
In 2004, Andria began to experience numbness, swelling, and pain in her hands. “Sleeping became very problematic because it would wake me up.”
She assumed the pain was a result of 10 to 12 hours spent daily at her desk, and she just “dealt” with it. By the time she sought medical help in 2006, her hands were swollen to the point that she could only feel the pain surging through the nerves. All other sensation was gone.
Her doctor declared she did not have carpel tunnel, and Andria’s journey with physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and lots of other conventional medical treatments began. It would last for two and a half years without relief.
In the end, the doctor informed her she had developed carpel tunnel and would need the release surgery if she wanted to prevent permanent nerve damage. But the procedure didn’t fix the problem. “In fact, it probably made it worse because now I have a weakened wrist,” Andria explains. “To say I was a little depressed is an understatement. I couldn’t play with my kids; I couldn’t do anything. My hands hurt really bad.”
She turned to Google for help and she came across something called neuromuscular therapy. “Now, at this point, I had no idea it was massage. When I discovered it was massage, I didn’t realize [it] had any therapeutic value.”
She decided to try some the techniques on herself, and for the first time in over four years, Andria found some relief. It was at this point she started researching neuromuscular therapy schools. She laughs as she thinks about the first time she spoke to the receptionist at Cortiva Institute in Chicago, because it was how she learned that neuromuscular therapy was the same thing as massage therapy.
Finding Her Gift
“It turns out I had a knack for it,” Andria humbly states. “I’m pretty positive that this was God’s way of getting me into the role He had for me.”
Before the 750-hour program, she didn’t understand that an accident in early childhood could have impact on someone many years later. “When I was 12 years old, I was riding a bicycle and I got hit by a car. I ended up rolling onto the hood the car. My head broke and shattered the windshield. I rolled back onto the hood and, then, rolled unconscious to the ground. So, technically, that’s what set me up. It basically took from 1987 to 2004 before I started feeling it, and honestly, sitting at that desk for 10 to 12 hours a day was not healthy.”
It might have taken 17 years for her body to fully realize the traumatic event and the day-to-day activities that exacerbated the condition, but it only took 11 years for Andria to fully heal through massage therapy. In 2019, she finally found complete relief from her on-going symptoms—even as they had been greatly reduced over the years.
After she had graduated school, Andria spent most of her time honing her craft in chiropractic, physical therapy, and wellness clinics. In 2018, she opened Seva Massage Therapy right here in Ocala.
Her massage therapy career has already outlasted the average career span for a massage therapist, and Andria has no plans of stopping any time soon. She feels blessed by her gift and the ability to help others find their path to wellness as she has done.