Our guide to sports massage

Our guide to sports massage

First published date February 05 2014 Amended date February 23 2016

Wherever you are, you've probably noticed the seemingly ever increasing amount of joggers or cyclists on your morning commute to work no matter how foul the weather may be! With more and more people taking a greater interest in their health and fitness and going to the gym, the need for the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries is also on the rise to go along with it. So if you have an interest in fitness, the human anatomy and have a desire to help people, then maybe taking one of the many sports massage courses is for you.


Why sports massage?

Sports massage is a valuable skill to learn and even more so now as more and more people are realising the importance of conditioning as well as general fitness. You may already be a personal trainer looking to gain extra qualifications but even if you are starting out in the fitness professional world, sports massage is a vital part of any fitness guru’s repertoire of skills and knowledge.


Can anyone take a course?

Courses are available for anyone ranging from already partly qualified fitness professionals, to aspiring masseuses who are total beginners in this field. For example, if you are looking to gain a Level 5 Diploma in Sports Massage, you will have to already be qualified to Level 4 standards or equivalent. Nobody can jump in at the deep end, especially as gaining a Level 5 qualifies you at Olympic level! For beginners, no previous experience is necessary as there are courses available for lower level qualifications and introductory sessions, the perfect first steps for your new career.


What will I learn?

Introductory courses will show you the basics of sports massage techniques as well understanding the human anatomy and muscle groups and which massage technique applies to which muscle. A sound knowledge of human anatomy is much more important in sports massage, and you won’t learn that in any other kind of therapeutic or holistic massage courses as it is the muscles you will be directly be working on to aid recovery. Focus is away from relaxation and more on getting results regarding somebody’s fitness.  You will also be taught how to work with clients safely so not to be too overzealous and risk injuring them. As you advance through the different levels of sports massage, you will not only learn new techniques, but you will begin dealing with various kinds of clients. For example, aspiring masseurs in the early stages will not be able to massage injured people, as their skills with muscle manipulation will be minimal to begin with, however as you progress, helping people overcome different kinds of injuries with massage on a more regular basis. There are also courses available - though designed mainly for already qualified masseurs – that specialise in certain areas of the body, for example the knee. The knee is one of the most commonly injured places of the body among professional athletes especially, so to gain further knowledge on that delicate area will be great to possess.


Career options

Once you become a qualified sports masseuse and therapist, there a many career paths you can down. When you complete your course in sports massage you can start work and utilise your new skills depending on which level you are qualified at. At the top end of the spectrum, level 5 qualified masseurs can work with professional athletes at Olympic standard. Though the London 2012 Olympics have been and gone, there are still many athletes as well as many sports clubs that require professional sports therapists to help keep themselves or their players in tip top shape. Nowadays, advancements in sports science and a newfound emphasis on fitness has paved the way for more sports masseurs to work with professional athletes as they have now realised how much sports massage can help prevent injury and speed up recovery also. In the UK, there are many sports clubs and institutions in any given sport and with various levels at which they perform. Taking football as an example, there are top level football clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal, and then there are teams who are lower down in the league pyramid like Leyton Orient or AFC Wimbledon, regardless, they all need a strong backroom staff and physiotherapy team to help look after their players, this is where you could come in. The same goes for other sports like rugby, cricket as well as the athletics scene.

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