Sports massage is rapidly becoming a popular career choice for those interested in helping sporting participants avoid and recover from injuries and pain. It can be a very rewarding career, and one that will give relief and happiness to people for whom their bodies are tools of their trade, and must be maintained with the utmost care.
Sports massage therapist - key skills
Before you take your first steps and sign up for a course in sports massage therapy it makes sense to understand the key skills you will need to succeed in the role. These include:
- The desire to help people
- Working closely with clients in a hands-on environment
- The ability to make people feel at ease and relaxed as you treat them
- Good communication skills as you need to diagnose an injury and explain the treatment process
Sports massage therapy courses
A career in sports massage would be a great choice for those who have an interest in sport and exercise science; perhaps those who want to know how to compete safely and help others do the same; or maybe those who have retired from the sporting arena and now wish to create a new career in helping others. Sports massage therapists work with a range of abilities and ages, from youth footballers in a local amateur team, to professional middle-distance runners or golfers, or rugby teams.
You might have a permanent residence in a clinic or within a club, or perhaps based in a number of sites and employed by several organisations. Alternatively, you could be self-employed and work at multiple sites on a freelance basis. Or self-employed and based permanently in a clinic, working with clients on a daily basis, treating a wide range of injuries and fitness ailments.
Typically, a course will cover biomechanics and explore anatomy, human movement, rehabilitation, and injury assessment. An excellent starting point for those looking to start a career in sports massage is our Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage Course. It looks at client assessment - in other words, what the problem is and the treatment required to resolve it - soft tissue and massage techniques and post treatment advice, which might include regular stretching.
This course - like other similar versions - can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. The weekend option runs over six weekends and includes home study, so it's possible to get qualified while you continue with your 'day job' if that's your situation. Ideal if you're thinking of a career change, therefore.
Once this course is completed, students will be qualified to start seeking work in the field of sports massage. You can, of course, continue your learning and take your skills to a higher level. The natural next step within the Premier Global prospectus is the Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy, which covers advanced techniques such as trigger point therapy, soft tissue therapy and frictions.
Working as a sports massage therapist
Working as a sports massage therapist can be varied and challenging. Typical duties include:
- Diagnosing injury and fitness issues
- Treating injuries - from minor strains to major injuries that might have required surgery
- Advising on warm up and cool down stretching routines to prevent injury
- Manage rehabilitation techniques and programmes
Before you start practising as a sports massage therapist, you'll need to get a CPR certificate and professional indemnity insurance. It's recommended that you complete a period of work experience in a relevant area, and even if this is not a strict requirement it should nevertheless be encouraged - you could shadow a physio at your local football club, for example, or spend some time with a freelance sports massage therapist.
The earlier you begin this aspect of your learning, the more knowledge you’ll amass and the greater the diversity of clients you’ll meet from an early age. As an example, imagine the different challenges you’ll encounter working with a walking football club for over-50s, a jockey in his late-thirties who is starting to pick up injuries, and a 19-year-old rugby player with a broken arm. It’s certainly possible that you could learn alongside qualified therapists in a work experience scenario – and you’ll gain plenty.
Many jobs and roles are filled on an informal, word-of-mouth basis, so gaining contacts early on could be a great way of establishing yourself at an early stage. So work experience, attending events and seminars, and generally getting to know people in the industry is an excellent way to progress your career.
Some jobs are listed on sports club websites, while others are listed on well-known employment websites such as LinkedIn and Indeed, as well as Jobs.as.uk for academic jobs.
Working hours & salary
Working hours and salary depend on where you work, and who you work for. If you have set up on your own, on a self-employed basis, then you'll be able to set your own working hours - but bear in mind that private clients are likely to want evening appointments. You may, at least while you establish yourself, have to be prepared to work some weekday evenings and possibly be available for at least part of a weekend.
If you're employed by a sports club and are attached to a team, then you'll probably be working most weekends and there could be a reasonable amount of travel involved - especially if the team is professional.
In terms of salary, if you're self-employed, the National Careers Service outlines a charge of between £25 and £60 an hour as a guide. If you're employed, you could earn up to £35,000 - but again, this is just a guide. Salary will differ according to an employer.
For more information on courses, including CPD courses, check out the PG website!