BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In this week’s Living Well with Michelle, Michelle went to Reform Motion Therapy in Hoover to learn how massage therapy can supplement an active lifestyle.

Massage and neuromuscular therapist Michael O’Neal discovered the power of alternative medicine after sustaining a serious hip injury while playing high school football.

“That cascaded many downstream effects that lead to a lot of asymmetries, chronic pain, chronic dysfunction,” O’Neal said. “I continued to play throughout college on top of all that dysfunction.”

After playing four years at Samford University, O’Neal’s focus shifted to healing his body.

“Only you can fix yourself,” he said. “Everyone in health care is a facilitator in your effort to fix yourself.”

That’s exactly what he’s doing for others today. O’Neal’s bodywork techniques focus on facilitating optimal tissue function.

“If there is upper back pain, I’ll usually start with the front of the shoulder because most people are very pulled forward right here,” he said.

O’Neal recommends using a tennis or lacrosse ball at home as a means to massage.

“You’re in control of the pressure,” he said. “If something feels sketchy, then it probably is, so you need to exercise caution or maybe not move into that.”

O’Neal said that at the end of the day, focusing on a consistent, active lifestyle is what makes his adjustments worthwhile.

“Take your joints through a full range of motion everyday,” he said. “Whatever that is — if you can squat quarter depth, take your hips, your knees, your ankles through a quarter-depth squat, everyday.”