Licensed massage therapist finds joy, community with opening of Shepherdstown practice | News, Sports, Jobs

Curran Johnston leads a vinyasa flow in front of his office space at 217 South Duke Street #104 on Sunday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Over the past eight months since moving into his office at 217 South Duke Street #104, Curran Johnston has embraced the joy of living in Shepherdstown — a joy that, in previously commuting to work in Martinsburg, he had yet to fully experience.

Since moving his practice location from Martinsburg to Shepherdstown, the licensed massage therapist has developed a habit of running, rather than driving, to work and getting to help many Shepherdstown residents find relief from insomnia, tension, muscle tightness, stress, the loss of range of motion, pain, discomfort and muscle dysfunction. Unlike many health practitioners, Johnston focuses on developing plans for his customers, which they can then adopt into their lives to prevent the return of their lifestyle-related health concerns.

“I do a kind of orthopedic-style massage, so it’s intended to address a lot of pain relief, a lot of orthopedic conditions — people that are sedentary because they’re stuck in office jobs. I also do deep tissue massage and flexibility and personal training,” Johnston said on Sunday afternoon, after leading a yoga workout in front of his office space.

“I became a massage therapist about five years ago,” Johnston said, describing himself as “injury-prone” up until getting his LMT certification from James Rumsey Technical Institute, his yoga teacher certification through the Aura Wellness Center and taking orthopedic classes online. “I was doing a lot of CrossFit and injuring myself all of the time.”

According to Johnston, he has developed his own therapy system, after learning the method used at Pete Juergensen’s Muscular Skeletal Therapies, Inc. in Martinsburg.

Curran Johnston’s office space glows with the warmth of fairy lights and muted tones on Sunday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“It works! I’ll be the first to say,” said Amanda Merkel, of Shepherdstown, before rolling up her yoga mat after the workout ended. “I workout a lot, so I would say that I’m injury-prone.”

“We both used to teach group exercise classes in Martinsburg. That’s how we met!” Merkel said of her friendship with Johnston. “Then COVID hit, and it’s like, ‘Gym’s closed. Do you want to take our workouts outside?’ That was three years ago, and we’ve been keeping it up since then. I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been!”

And, with the help of Johnston’s occasional services when she experiences an exercise-related injury, Merkel and Johnston have also safely increased the intensity of their CrossFit workouts.

“I’m 40 and I’ve been injury-free for years now. I’m my early-30s, I was injuring myself about once-a-month,” Johnston said, regarding his program. “I attribute it to regular yoga practice and the ability to stay active and non-sedentary.”

For those wondering whether or not their health could be improved with a session at Johnston’s practice, he gives a measurement system.

“How much pain are you in? You shouldn’t be in any pain. You should be able to go through your day-to-day without any kind of discomfort,” Johnston said. “People who are wracked with chronic pain, that tells you something — it doesn’t get better with age, it just gets worse.

“It’s important to make time for self-care!” Johnston said. “I would say only 5-10 percent of people actually want to do what’s necessary to take care of themselves, unfortunately. Those who don’t take care of themselves have to deal with the consequences.”

Based on her own experiences, Merkel agreed with Johnston’s viewpoint.

“We need to remove the societal stigma associated with self-care, that it’s selfish. It’s not!” Merkel said. “Just like on airplanes, when you’re instructed to put on your air mask first before helping someone else, you need to take care of yourself if you expect to take care of someone else.”

To learn more or book an appointment, visit or, or call 304-620-4786.

Licensed massage therapist finds joy, community with opening of Shepherdstown practice