Rocky Chen: #RunningForResearch 2019

Posted:Monday, March 4, 2019

By Rocky Chen, PE, LMT

In November 2018, I was selected by the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) to run in the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019, as one of four runners on Team MTF—Running for Research. As a participant in the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program, I did not need to meet a qualifying time, but I did commit to raising funds for MTF. My goal is to raise $15,000 for massage therapy research.

I have been a runner for 25 years and I have run over 10 half marathons in the last several years, but this is my first full marathon (26.2 miles).  On February 9, I had been the longest long run to date, as the OKC Running Club (aka “Landrunners”) had 14 miles scheduled for those of us who are training for a spring marathon.  At mile #9, as I was tackling the last long hill in 24-degree temperatures with 10-15 mph winds, I asked myself, “remind me again why we’re up at 9am on a Saturday, in sub-freezing temperatures, running up & down hills?”

The mind goes to interesting places when you’re cold, tired, and hungry … and your legs are feeling very, very heavy.  You question why you’re running miles when you could still be in your warm, comfy bed, sleeping in on a lazy Saturday morning.  Then I started thinking about some of the people who would benefit from the money I am helping to raise for the Foundation.

I thought specifically of a massage therapist friend who is applying for a MTF Research Grant. Her research investigates how former servicemen who suffered injuries as a result of their service in the Armed Forces (“Wounded Warriors”) would benefit from touch therapy as they incorporate competitive sports back into their lives.

Another MT friend works with elite athletes.  She recently incorporated cupping into her practice, and I’ve been using kinesiotape in my practice the last 7-8 years. We were discussing how our athlete-clients benefit from when we introduce new modalities.  It is satisfying to share our stories about helping our clients compete to their fullest potentials, with pain-free mobility, and to know that we are part of the reason they’re able to be successful.

Although I’m only a part-time MT (I’m a full-time engineer), I am fortunate to have worked with amazing athletes and sports teams, and to have traveled to some exciting locations.  I was an MT for the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, and for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.  I’ve worked with the University of Oklahoma Athletic Department, the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Team, the Oklahoma City Ballet Company, and over 50 Ironman triathlons.  As a runner and a triathlete, I have the unique perspective of being not just an MT, but also a fellow athlete. I enjoy discussing training, nutrition, and equipment (if they’re a triathlete) with my athlete-clients.

This profession has enriched my life in so many ways.  Part of my business plan is to volunteer at local sporting events, to support them as a small business owner in the local community.  I also provide a “sliding scale” for billing clients who may not have the means to afford massage therapy.  I have been blessed with a unique skill set that help people live a pain-free life, and I feel that the many years of volunteering my services in my local running, cycling, triathlon, and dance community provides an opportunity to reach as many people (and athletes) that I can, so they can maximize their athletic potential through pain-free training.

Please consider donating to help me raise funds for the Massage Therapy Foundation. Together we can make a difference in the lives of many. Thank you!!!

Please click here to support me as I run the Boston Marathon on April 15th, 2019 to raise funds and awareness for the Massage Therapy Foundation

About MTF

The Massage Therapy Foundation is a 501(c)3 providing support to the massage therapy profession. Since 1990, MTF has provided over $1 million in research grants studying the science behind therapeutic massage. The Foundation founded and publishes an open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal and provides many educational resources for massage therapists, educators, and students. MTF provides community service grants to populations in need of therapeutic massage who would otherwise lack access. For more information, please visit