Dr. Jason Wersland is a chiropractor and founder of Therabody (previously Theagun), the first percussive massage device. In our conversation, he told us about his story, from the necessity to create a tool to get rid of the pain after his motorcycle accident to treating pro athletes and champions. Dr. Jason is driven by passion and focuses on treating and educating people first. We discuss success, manifesting the life you want, and what is next for him and Theragun.
Dr. Jason Wesrland: I grew up in Utah, played sports, and was active my whole life. My parents had a farm where we had this mentality to be resourceful and figure out ways to make things happen. At my younger age, I was in construction but I have always wanted to be a chiropractor. It just felt natural to analyze the anatomy of a person and figure out how to fix it. However, I really thought that it was too high of a goal when I was younger because my parents were from Norway, neither of them graduated from college. Being a first-generation American, it just wasn’t in the cards.
I moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to go to chiropractic school, which took me 7 years to finish [laughs]. Mostly because of some exams, I didn’t pass and I was working at the same time. It was a challenge and a tough road. But I graduated and opened my practice. That’s about the same time my motorcycle accident happened, which kind of started all of this.
As I got older and started to experience life, I realized it was just a goal, and that I had to work on it like anything else. I actually didn’t start chiropractic school until I was 30 when most of the kids in this school were at least 4 years younger. Once I discovered I could work under another chiropractor’s license, I started treating patients in 2006. I needed to earn money because I had two kids, and I was able to better my craft.
When I look back, people I have met are still patients of mine, and people I communicate with. Some of them were celebrities and when Theragun started to grow, they wanted to support a friend. There is a lot of support I received from patients that I had earlier, that was an unexpected blessing.
I always will go towards resistance. When you feel resistance, it means you are supposed to go that direction, and you feel much stronger on the other side.
In October 2007, I was heading to my school on a motorcycle to take my physical therapy test, ironically! A car was going the wrong direction, cut me off on the freeway and I slammed inside of his car, going 50 mph. I had a lot of problems in my neck, down the right side of my arm and my knee. I wasn’t broken, it was soft tissue damage but within the next three or four weeks, suddenly I was in a lot of pain.
As a chiropractor and my knowledge at the time, I knew what I needed but there wasn’t anything that provided that. I started to use this vibrating tool my brother (who is also a chiropractor) gave me that looked like a Coke can. It was working but as my body quickly accommodated, it became less effective and eventually stopped working.
In late January of 2008, I was at my house, sitting there at 3 in the morning, in pain and really frustrated. That night, I decided to build something stronger for myself in order to get better. I made that thing which took immediately the pain away. I was fascinated and was finally able to sleep after 40 days of sleepless nights due to the pain.
In the first few months, I was just trying to get myself better. Some months later, it was for rehab and to sleep better. By June or July 2008, I was pain-free, kind of done with it, and just put it away.
Later that year, a patient of mine came to my practice and his story was similar to mine. That’s the first time I thought of using the device on someone else! I still remember feeling obligated to help this guy and got emotional because I remembered the pain. All I wanted was to keep him out of pain when he wasn’t with me. We worked hand in hand when his pain wasn’t so severe and I showed him some more modalities to fix the anatomy problems.
That is the same concept that we do now at Theragun. We are more than a product, our goal is to teach people, from our app, our website, our videos across our social media platforms. As a chiropractor, I have learned that it is a really good tool but if you don’t know how to use it, it is going to be something that you put in the drawer somewhere and never use.
I still like treating patients. Yesterday, I had a patient who came in and I spent 45 minutes with him. I don’t do it for the money, I do it for the results. My priority is to treat patients. I even get in trouble because I want to leave and go treat people, and the team at the office is like “You don’t have time for that!” [laughs]
I was using it in my clinic on my patients on regular everyday people, and I happened to have an opportunity to go to a gym in Hollywood called Unbreakable Performance where they gave me a room to treat their clients after their workout. They had celebrities and athletes from The NFL, NBA, NHL. That is how I started to use it on “healthy people” and pro athletes for recovery, it was before foam rolling was even a thing. They were feeling so good and were giving me the same feedback as my patients. If I didn’t have this opportunity, we wouldn’t have this conversation today.
Now, I am working with athletes from New York, from London, actors who are shooting films all over the world, and they are taking Theragun with them and say it takes their pain away. Watching that happen, it’s a bit like what Gatorade and Under Armour did. They put it in the hands of people who know how to use it, they started to talk about it, validated it, and that came back around to the everyday people with that validation. I started seeing those commonalities and decided to flood the market in the pro athletes’ word. Jonny Picot, a good friend of mine, is the physio for Manchester United and has the whole team using Theragun, I have been to Real Madrid, I treated Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema.
That experience is fun, and it’s exciting but what I want people to understand is Theragun is about treating everyone. If on one hand, Kyrie Irving is using the product and gets better by 1%, and on the other hand, I use it in my clinic on a patient that couldn’t walk and now he can, how do I measure that?
The validation from athletes is great and what we are doing is to build the story to explain this is for everyday people.
Being a chiropractor, understanding how the body functions and responses to this therary, that is what kept me going. That is one of the differences between us and other companies. Their are businessmen, they are not treating patients, they are selling a product.
When it comes to Theragun, my own definition is when I get in a taxi or an Uber somewhere in the world and the person knows what Theragun is. That is my measure of success, they are in the community!
Personally, if I have a good relationship with my wife and my kids, that it is not stressful, every day to me is just a little bit of success in that aspect. It’s not about money even though it is important, but if I don’t have my kids, for instance, I am not happy, that is not success to me.
In this world, with what I do and how fast Theragun is growing, It is a challenge to keep those principles and stay centered around those, I have good people around me and they understand what’s important to me, so I am blessed.
Deshaun Watson, who is a well-known quarterback playing for the Houston Texans. I got to work on him as he was going pro and we became good friends. Treating him in the middle of practice and learn how effective Theragun was on an athlete during his performance was something I have never experienced before. To have someone of his caliber telling me that he never felt like this before, never recovered this way or never thrown the ball so well! There are a lot of really cool things that I have learned from Deshaun, and I will be forever grateful to him for letting me be in his life.
Meeting Cristiano Ronaldo and the whole team in the locker room in Madrid was probably one of the highlights of this whole experience.
I have been able to work on a lot of people, and it’s not so much who they are, it’s the words they use back to me after they have been treated that doesn’t make them any more special than anyone else.Their response is the same I have from patients I have in my clinic.
I have an uncle in Norway who said to me: “Never talk about a problem unless you have a solution or at least a suggestion”. Also, Dwayne Johnson posted something on his Instagram that said the keys to success are consistency and persistence. I like to put in there delusion. Because I had to be delusional, I feel that it made me reach for something a little bit unrealistic. In moments of soleness or quietness, I would stop and imagine what I want life to look like. If I feed that into the Universe, I believe those things will happen.
Seeing those I love happy makes me happy. Seeing my wife and my kids experience success. It is the peace you have knowing that everything is ok and people are healthy. My daughter is going to school, to see her struggle actually makes me happy. Only because I know what comes on the other side of that. I lost a brother a year ago, and I never thought I could be happy again thinking about him.
A perfect morning is when I get up around 6.30. Starting with some stretching routine that I do. When I can, I work out or I do a little bit of yoga. After, I like to sit down and write my manifestations and the things I am grateful for in my notebook. Later, I will have a shake, kiss my kids, and will head to the office.
I am trying to get better with my words and the way I express myself. I want to stop using the word “Can’t” because I think it’s bulls**t.
Helping people. That motivates me! Because everything we do is different and new, every person needs to be taught what we do at Theragun and I really enjoy that part. From PR to our website, to our marketing, Instagram, I love to see the light come on when we explain something.
When I feel overwhelmed or don’t know what to do, I try to get away and give my life coach a call. We will do breathing exercises and he helps me to get me back into a calmer state of mind. However, I don’t call him all the time because I feel like I am weak or something [laughs]. If I am struggling, I will leave my phone and will go for a walk outside. It gives me a perspective and my problems don’t seem so big.
Consistency, persistence, and delusion. Don’t listen to what other people say, if you feel it, it doesn’t matter. My siblings, my friends, and even my parents were not supportive and were judging me. What I felt inside was so much stronger. Anyone who has anything of value is going to have resistance, that’s part of the recipe and you just have to go through it.
One thing I have learned also, patience doesn’t count until it’s hard. It counts when you start to get angry, aggravated. One of the things that happen is people give up because your brain starts playing this game on you.
I love golfing, to ski. I love to relax. If I have free time, I will try to get a workout, go for a walk. I just want things to be quiet and calm.
As a company, my role at Theragun is to share a message, more and more our true desire to help you be better. We teach courses to therapists and trainers, empowering them to help them be better, and help them help their clients to be better. Our app includes the top sixteen elements that I saw in my clinic, the most common problems people have like jet lag, headaches, lower back pain, sleep. I talk to people on the app like there were in my clinic, guiding them and telling them what to do. We are doing everything we can to be in all parts of the world. Right now, we are certified and teaching courses in 55 countries. We are just starting!
I am also writing a book about my story and spend a lot of time on that. My fiancee Amanda and I are getting married in August. My ultimate goal is to move to Europe eventually.
A really good friend of mine, Gunnar Peterson who is the strength coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. He also trains Tom Brady, the Kardashians, Dwayne Johnson. He is a really interesting person, he has passion! You should also interview Sarah Lindsey who is an ex olympian based in London. And another good friend of mine Apolo Ohno who is a short track speed skating Olympic champion. He has mastered the power of the mind, I learned a lot of things from him!
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