In the early 1990s, Francois Minani was teaching high-school biology and raising seven children in his native Rwanda. Forced by the genocide to flee his home, Francois and his family took refuge across the border in Burundi. Eighteen months later, the Minani clan arrived in Kingsport. Grateful for asylum in America, Francois nevertheless faced the daunting task of making ends meet 8,000 miles from home. He took up heavy labor, but the demanding work and repetitive movements took a serious toll on his upper and lower back. Painkillers and months of intensive care at a rehabilitation center did little to alleviate his injuries. Only massage therapy took.
The results were dramatic. Two months of intensive therapeutic massage banished his chronic pain. On the strength of his own experiences, Francois decided to attend massage school to bring the same relief to others. Today at Appalachian Medical Massage Associates, Francois combines his background in biology and years of massage experience with a hard-won empathy for his clients’ aches. He specializes in working with delicate patients such as expectant mothers and fibromyalgia sufferers, but his range is broad—his Swedish-massage therapy and sports massages work to relax tough muscles.