At 2 a.m. on October 23, 1994, Wes Nelson’s life changed forever and set him on a path to his current profession in massage therapy.
While serving as an independent contractor delivering newspapers for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nelson had an accident that resulted in a ruptured disk in the lumbar region of his spine.
Nelson said at the time, no one told him about the long-term effects of having back surgery.
“For 17 years of my life, I was in pain,” Nelson said. “You can’t truly understand how it effects everything about you. It changed me.”
For Nelson, pain was a constant companion that kept him inactive. Through massage therapy, he was able to get back on his feet. Massage therapy helped alleviate his pain, and in return, he wanted to help others with their pain, he said.
In 2013, Nelson enrolled in a six-month massage therapy program at Hill College. Nelson said he had to learn the basic anatomy and how the human body works before knowing how a certain massage modality can help a person.
After graduating from the program in 2014 and getting licensed by the state, Nelson said he didn’t want to work in a spa. His goal was to work at UTA, since some of his family members were alumni.
In February 2015, he started working at UTA as the licensed massage therapist at the Maverick Activities Center.
Nelson helps various students and clients alleviate their needs through massage therapy. Nelson said every person is different, so he approaches each client differently.
Nelson said to truly understand what a client needs, he does a consultation first. Once he is able to put his hands on the problem area, he discovers what massage techniques are needed. His hands are the essential tool of his trade, he said.
“I see through my hands,” Nelson said.
Karl Goodman, exercise science graduate student said during his time on UTA’s track and field team, he experienced problems with his hamstrings. Goodman said someone suggested going to massage therapy sessions with Nelson and decided to visit him, despite his skepticism.
Goodman experienced tightness in his muscles and needed someone who understood the body, its attachments and how to release tension. Nelson was that person, he said.
Since December 2016, Goodman said he went to sessions with Nelson at least once a month to help his overall body function. He recommended massage therapy sessions to some of his roommates, as well.
“It’s a really good tool just to relax and he’s a good, fun person to talk to anyways,” Goodman said. “If you want to go there and relax, you can. If you want to go there and just have a laugh, you can. So, it’s the best of both worlds really.”
Goodman said of all the places he could go, he visits Nelson, because he doesn’t try to get someone on and off the table. He said Nelson cares about helping people in the work that he puts in.
Finance senior Joel Hernandez said he met Nelson while working at the MAC’s membership and information desk last August. Around that time, he said he wanted to try out massage therapy to help him relax before the coming semester and went to Nelson for help.
Hernandez said he enjoys going to Nelson for massage therapy, because he’s credible and his passion for helping people shows.
“With passion, people come to you,” Hernandez said.
After spraining his ankle during an intramural game, Hernandez said he went to a session with Nelson. He said the session helped to heal his ankle.
“I enjoy doing what I’m doing, and I’m the guy who is trying to get to work in the mornings, because I like to work,” Nelson said. “I love my job, and I love working up here with the university and with the students and faculty. It’s awesome.”