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How to Become a Sports Massage Therapist

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If you’re on the hunt for a possible career change or if you’re already a fitness professional looking to branch out, it’s time to get hands on and discover what it takes to become a sports massage therapist. This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know, including what a massage therapist actually does, the ideal skills you need and how to get qualified. 

Sports massage is one of the most popular forms of physical therapy around. Promoting recovery, limiting the potential risk of future injury and reducing inflammation can all be achieved by manipulating soft tissues in the body. Day-to-day life takes its toll on our bodies and there are many reasons why aches, pains and niggles set in. The most skilled sports massage therapists know exactly how to work the body so it can start its own natural healing process.

When it comes to really defining the role of a sports massage therapist, it really does depend on where you’re working and the types of clients you’re treating. For example, a sports massage therapist working with a professional football club will be doing slightly different things than someone providing treatment for an office worker who spends eight hours a day sat in a chair.

Generally speaking, though, a sports massage therapist will either be looking to relieve clients of their pain, inflammation and dysfunction or work hard to stop it from every happening in the first place.

Anyone who’s had a long-term injury (such as tennis elbow) will know that the emotional side effects can, at times, almost be as difficult to deal with as the physical symptoms. This is why the most adept massage therapists are sensitive and empathetic in their approaches.

One of the most important parts of the journey to becoming a sports massage therapist is gaining the right qualifications. That may sound like a no brainer but there are actually a few varying routes that you could take. One of the more popular options is completing vocational training.

The entry-level qualification is the Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage Therapy and you’ll need this as the bare minimum in order to practise massage therapy. This course covers a range of topics including: variety of massage techniques, commonly-occurring injuries, anatomy and physiology, and more.

Once qualified, it’s time to get out there and secure employment as a sports massage therapist (or if you’re already qualified fitness professional, incorporate it into your existing offering). Some of the most popular places to look for work include: sports clubs, events like marathons and obstacle course races, physio clinics, gyms, health clubs, and leisure centres.

Your next step is to find a provider delivering sports massage courses in your area, get yourself enrolled and start your journey.

Josh Douglas-Walton is a fitness writer for HFE, the UK’s leading provider of personal trainer courses and fitness qualifications.

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