“Everyone wants to give you their opinion”
Everyone wants to give you their opinion. It’s up to you if you decide to heed their advice.
New technologies have changed the way we engage in and watch sports. Sensors, Wearable Tech, Video Assistant Referees (VAR), and Instant Replay, are examples of new technologies that have changed the way we play and watch sports. In this interview series called, “The Future of Sports; New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports,” we are talking to sports leaders, athletes, sports tech experts, and sports equipment companies who can talk about the new technologies that are reshaping the sports world.
As a part of this interview, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jason Wersland.
After a traumatic motorcycle accident, Therabody Founder and Chief Wellness Officer Dr. Jason Wersland needed a solution to relieve his debilitating pain. Realizing the only viable options to alleviate his pain were prescription medicine or surgery, he designed a device out of a power tool. That became the category-defining Theragun, the world’s first percussive therapy device. A chiropractor by training, Dr. Jason is passionate about helping people live healthier, happier lives.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In 2007, I experienced a traumatic motorcycle accident that left me with debilitating muscle and nerve pain. I searched for a solution, but realized the only viable options were prescription medication or surgery. I wanted something that would accelerate my body’s natural healing processes.
As a chiropractic student, I understood the history and research-backed benefits of applying pressure and vibration to soft tissues. This led me to design a makeshift tool in my garage that eased my discomfort. The first Theragun I created was purely out of necessity to help ease my own pain. After I felt better, I put it away and didn’t think I would use it again. It wasn’t until a couple months later I realized how important this device could be to people’s lives. I had a patient come into my practice who had an injury very similar to mine, and bad insurance like I had, and he was desperate for anything that could help him feel better. I ended up giving him that first prototype and it worked wonders for him. Experiencing his story and being able to guide him in his recovery was a pivotal moment for me. It was at that point where I felt like I may be on to something that could really help people feel better.
Over the next eight years, I continued to evolve and test the original prototype. That invention became the category-defining percussive therapy device, Theragun, which now has four generations of devices on the market. But that was just the start; the need for research-backed solutions, especially those outside of prescription medications or surgery, was bigger than that for percussive therapy, specifically. Theragun eventually evolved into Therabody, making non-invasive pain management solutions available to everybody.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
My career since Theragun has been full of unexpected, interesting stories that it is hard to just pick one. It has been amazing to work with professional athletes and celebrities that have now become partners and investors of Therabody’s, but seeing how our products can change someone’s life — who thought there may never be relief from their pain — is the most rewarding part of what we’ve done as a company and what I do as a chiropractor. However, there are still so many people who haven’t been touched by our wellness solutions yet that truly need the benefits they offer, and that’s what motivates me everyday. We’re just getting started.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My failures and challenges are actually my secret weapons. Failures teach me which direction NOT to take and challenges help me know I’m on the right path as long as I am focused on my goal.
Some of the life lessons that speak to me include:
- Believe and trust yourself and your vision.
- Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better.
- Character is the ability to follow through with a decision AFTER the emotion of making that decision is gone.
These were all relevant because of the value behind applying each of these mantras.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I grew up as the oldest in a large family. My family is from Norway and we also had a farm growing up. I would spend summers on the farm working, learning resourcefulness. I have always been around tools and was handy with things. I worked in flooring for years, installing tile, carpet, hardwood flooring, etc., becoming proficient with power tools.
I have also always been interested in the nervous system, physiology, and mechanics of the body and how we move. I had several great experiences with chiropractors growing up and realized they could work on the entire body, not just one specific body part. The ability to help people with my hands and education was very attractive to me.
One of our neighbors growing up was a chiropractor for the Utah Jazz, and another very close friend of my father’s from his time in the military became a chiropractor as well. So, I had a few influential people early on who were in the field I ultimately joined, and it was an approach my family embraced my whole life. If one of us had a sprained ankle or were sick with a cold, we would go to the chiropractor for an adjustment. When I realized this neighbor of ours was able to take on a medical career — I already knew I was interested in anatomy and physiology — but within the sports world, I became even more interested in figuring out how to make this my path in life.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
- When I read “The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success,” it was a confirmation of the successful thought processes I had learned through life’s challenges. It still resonates with me each time I read or listen to the book.
- “The Untethered Soul” is another book that has had a significant impact on me.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- I always say passion, persistence, consistency, and a little bit of delusion are traits that have gotten me to the point I’m at today.
- Perseverance, i.e. sticking with your gut if you know you have a good idea, is crucial. So many people told me no, suggesting I should do things differently, but I persevered.
- Recognizing your weaknesses and finding the best people who have those strengths. Benjamin (the CEO of Therabody) has a completely different set of skills than I do; neither of us could do what the other one does. It’s what makes us great business partners.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As a chiropractor, I have always cared deeply about helping people feel their best so they can live life to the fullest. When I created Theragun, I was hyper-focused on relieving my own pain. It wasn’t until I took the Theragun to my chiropractic clinic that I realized the tremendous impact it could have on others.
Through my work as Chief Wellness Officer at Therabody, I have been able to bring relief and wellness to not only my patients, but also everyday people around the world who experience pain and soreness. I’m fortunate to be able to connect with people every day through Therabody University, our company’s educational division, which offers courses tailored to people’s specific needs and considerations. Today, more than 5,000 professionals have completed Therabody University courses. Given Therabody’s success, I’m very lucky to have a platform where I can educate people about the benefits of percussive therapy and other non-invasive pain management solutions, and I plan to continue to amplify our message as the business grows.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the sports technologies that most excite you at the moment? Can you explain why you are passionate about it?
Absolutely. I’ve always been excited about percussive therapy because of how personal it is to me. In 2008, I unknowingly created the first percussive therapy device after suffering a severe motorcycle injury in late 2007. Unlike prescription medication or surgery, percussive therapy accelerates the body’s natural healing process by applying pressure and vibration to soft tissues. I am so proud and humbled that percussive therapy is now a go-to treatment option for professional sports teams and athletes, trainers, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and everyday consumers across the world.
In addition, I’m excited about bringing together some of the best recovery methods into comprehensive experiences, just as we do in our Reset by Therabody wellness center and Therabody retail locations. Cryotherapy, light therapy, lymphatic air-compression therapy, and tech-guided meditation are just a few of the offerings that are changing the way everyday people and athletes are thinking about their fitness and wellness routines. Some of these modalities have been around for a few years, but it’s our goal to perfect their quality and make them available to people aside from professional athletes and those who visit cutting-edge physical therapists’ offices.
For instance, tech-guided meditation allows those who are new to meditation an accessible option to begin their journey on mind-body connection and implementing mental wellness into their routines, and we’ve found that customers really respond to the mix of binaural beats and guided spoken meditation. We know it’s a personal journey, so we encourage users to take the components they like best and create their own meditation experience. Lymphatic air-compression therapy is another piece of technology I’m excited about, due to its circulation benefits and how it improves endurance. Cryotherapy is a buzzword in the wellness space, but its benefits can’t be overlooked — think of it as an ice bath, but much more efficient and effective. The benefits of a quick three-minute cryotherapy session are comparable to those stemming from multiple 30-minute ice bath sessions — without the overall time commitment.
How do you think this might change the world of sports?
We are already seeing a heightened interest from major sports organizations due to the significant benefits that great routines and technologies can have on their athletes, and I think the change we will see is for this mindset to become the norm. If teams and leagues are not providing the best recovery care and tools possible for their athletes, it’ll eventually impact their overall success. Investing in these technologies and prioritizing these types of routines will only continue to benefit sports entities.
Reducing injuries, improving endurance, and sharpening mentalities to improve game time performance all culminate to create an ecosystem for success. An emerging shift in focus to holistic fitness routines, I believe, will become not only the industry standard but also become the baseline for successful teams and leagues.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
With any new technology, it’s important for consumers to examine what this tech will do for them and how it might interfere with other, more important parts of their lives. I’m happy to say that I don’t see any major drawbacks to these advancements in recovery technology, since, by nature, they will prompt movement and connection to self, which I think we could all use a bit more of after the past year and a half. Recovery technology exists to provide healing from exercise, sport, or movement — all of which have proven benefits to the body and mind. I’m excited about the future of recovery technology as a way for people to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their bodies, to make space for rest, and act as a break from other forms of technology.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the sports industry today? Can you explain? What can be done to address or correct those concerns?
- The physical and mental condition of the youth in America especially is getting worse and worse. We are seeing reduced access to youth sports for children during COVID-19. Scientific recommendations to pause or cancel youth sports seasons was a necessary decision, but the implications of these actions will be felt for quite some time in my opinion. Having access to youth sports programs and the benefits that they have on children can’t be emphasized enough. Teamwork, communication, body language, perseverance, and community — all of those things were put on pause in regards to youth sports during the pandemic. Scientists, communities, leagues, and youth coaches will have to continue working in tandem with the latest research to safely return to youth sports. I’m hopeful that as we find solutions, we’ll be able to offer more kids than ever an opportunity to find passion and value in sports.
- There is a lack of knowledge and attention around recovery for the mind and the body. In my opinion, the solution is that we need to start teaching all humans how to take care of their bodies. For the sports world in particular, I think each team needs to spend just as much time and money on prevention and recovery as they do on performance. We need more facilities where the athletes can go to receive high quality, effective full body and mind recovery.
- Everyday people who play sports don’t have access to the industry-leading technologies that help elite athletes train harder, play better, and recover faster. We need to make wellness solutions available to everybody, regardless of their level of fitness or athletic ability. At Therabody, we look at the cutting-edge technologies that are available and take the best parts of them to curate high-quality, research-backed products that are accessible to everyone. As a result, we can guide people to discover the ways they can help themselves or support their work with practitioners.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Expect to hear ‘no’ far more often than you would expect.
- You can never separate yourself from the original reason you created the first product. The story is what drives the passion behind the progress of where (Therabody) is today.
- Your impact will always have a larger reach than you can possibly imagine. It makes it worth all the late nights away from your family, and the blood, sweat, and tears.
- Everyone wants to give you their opinion. It’s up to you if you decide to heed their advice.
- Life is too short to stress about the small things. Keep the big picture in mind.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would want each person to understand their mind and body, and do the things necessary to have the confidence and understanding to truly believe they can overcome anything.
As someone who cares deeply about wellness, I would work to inspire every individual to take control of their own wellness routine — whether it’s working out more regularly, trying out a new sport, prioritizing mental and physical self-care, or incorporating percussive therapy into their daily schedule. We only get one body, so it is important we take care of ours the best we possibly can.
It’s never been easier to make wellness a part of everyday life, so I encourage people to find whatever it is that makes them feel, perform, and recover better, and stick with it. Whether that is an hour-long workout, a 15-minute walk outside, or a daily meditation or breath practice, I believe it is important to be intentional about your own wellness every day. I firmly believe that when people have the proper tools and education, they are in control of their wellness, and everybody deserves to live healthier, happier lives.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?
I’ve been very fortunate with the individuals I’ve been able to meet since the creation of the Theragun. There are so many wonderful people out there, it’s hard to pick just one. That being said, I’ve always thought Elon Musk and I would have a lot in common.
I have always been someone that has never been afraid to fail — I’ve been far more afraid of what a failure it would be to never try at all. I admire that Musk shows constant innovation and tenacity, and I have no doubt that we would have many interesting topics to discuss.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can visit Therabody.com, check out the Therabody app, or follow Therabody on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. You can also follow me on Instagram (@drjasonwersland), Twitter (@DrJasonWersland) and LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!