About Terry M. Cross, Inventor of Armaid
An early memory:
Our neighbor had a cat. I was about 8 years old. I sat down and stroked the cat’s head. As I moved my hands to its front legs and gently compressed the muscles in the foreleg, the cat’s claw jutted straight out and stayed extended until I released the pressure. I was astonished by this connection between the muscles way up in the foreleg and the effect way down at the claw.
That startling moment remains clear to me to this day.
Around the same time in my life, my mom asked me to rub her sore shoulders and neck. Some people can “see” another person’s structure by touching them and intuitively knowing where to apply pressure. (In Japan and other parts of Asia, in fact, blind men often became highly sought-after masseurs.) I learned early on that I had that ability, and by helping my mom, I gained the confidence that I could make a difference for someone by rubbing their aching muscles.
For 15 years in the 1970’s and 1980’s I lived in Singapore, Tokyo and parts of Southeast Asia. Most of that time was spent working construction and salvage diving for the offshore oil industry. In my diving trade, I traveled to virtually every Asian country that had a coastline.
From local teachers with traditional massage styles and techniques, I learned diverse massage skills. I was the one called in to help if someone on the diving crew had a sore back, twisted ankle or a kinked neck.
When it became time to think of another career, I knew I had a gift of massage; but like all gifts innate to our nature, it needed to be developed. I returned to the United States in the 80s and began a 2-year in-depth massage course in San Diego.
I soon realized that I had a distinct preference for Sports Injury Massage. I liked the beauty and challenge of fixing an athlete’s performance problems in as few sessions as possible. Because of my strength and size, and use of the best professional sports massage techniques, I was eventually in big demand by pro athletes and weekend warriors.
But after several years of doing constant massage work and neglecting my own muscle maintenance, I developed tendinitis in my forearms, wrists and elbows from over-tightened muscles. This breakdown of my career made me stop and think: What now? I knew how common arm tendinitis was across all humans in all activities - was there a way I could help address the problem?
I realized the most efficient way would be through self-massage, so people could help themselves at the exact time they needed relief – not suffering while waiting to get an appointment with a massage or physical therapist.
Regular maintenance would also be critical. If people used their arms and hands to the max every day at their job or sport, then every day they would need to clean out that tightness and lactic acid so their muscles would be refreshed and ready for more. Just like brushing teeth, maintenance every day keeps problems away.
Finally, I knew the best trigger point therapy technique to address tendinitis, but I had to figure out how to effectively apply this technique through self-massage without fatigue. I had to think of a tool to do the job.
I’ve always been a big fan of the insight known as Occam’s Razor. What this means is that the best answer to a problem is almost always the simplest. My criteria for design included four things:
- Be simple
- Few parts
- Deliver any amount of pressure with the least amount of effort
- Use it, in a session, for as long as one desired
One afternoon while driving to my son’s soccer game, not thinking at all about tool design, I had a wave of intense, electric, whole-body, mental, emotional epiphany and I got a perfect design metaphor: a nutcracker! It’s nearly impossible to easily crack open a nut with only our fingers. But if a nutcracker is used, one can crack open a whole bucket of nuts. That’s the power of using leverage.
Once I had this realization, it was simply a matter of making prototype refinements until the design was complete.
It seems perfect that the Armaid massage tool is based upon leverage. Our muscles, tendons and bones work together as levers to make all body movement possible. This symmetry of using an external lever to restore the body’s internal levers is beautiful. It makes me feel I have achieved the simplicity of Occam’s Razor.