You have just graduated from massage school and have passed the exam required by your state's massage therapy board. You then receive approval to practice massage therapy in your state. So what happens next? How will you earn a living as a massage therapist? One possible avenue for you to investigate is sports massage. Here is how you get started.
Sports Massage Training
If you are not already physically fit, initiate a workout routine. Get involved in the sports that interest you and with the type of athletes you want to attract; you will have instant credibility if you can relate to what the athlete is experiencing. Find out where the athletes train and compete, and go there to interact with them. Let them know you are a sports-massage therapist and that you specialize in treating athletes in their sport.
Another absolute necessity is you must know the muscles and movements that are involved in the sports you want to focus on. You must know the origins, insertions and functions of the muscles, should have a good idea of potential injuries and areas of concern for the sports, and have well-practiced routines for each condition. Read periodicals that cover the sports, and know the jargon and equipment used. Athletes are very in tune with their bodies, and if you come prepared and on top of your game, they will be impressed with your knowledge of their sport.
Even though you may have received an introduction to sports massage in school, you should seek additional training in advanced sports-massage techniques and related modalities. There are a number of programs throughout the country that provide certifications or internships in sports massage. Search the Web for "sports massage certification," and you will discover massage schools and individual continuing education providers that offer sports-massage courses and training programs.
Courses and programs will vary based on price, duration and specific areas of sports massage presented. You might also try searching for other modalities related to sports massage, such as stretching, orthopedic massage, injury evaluation, strengthening and taping, as examples.
As a sports-massage therapist, you will have a number of potential venues at which to work, such as local road races, triathlons, bike rides, tennis and golf tournaments, track meets, volleyball events, softball tournaments and your local gym. Here are some specific ideas:
• Join your local sports massage team or form your own and contact local event directors to offer your services. This is an excellent way to market your skills, gain experience and get your hands on a number of athletes in a short period of time. You can also distribute your business cards and marketing materials to athletes who come into the massage tent.
• Many colleges and professional teams now have sports massage therapists on staff. The U.S. Olympic Committee has a volunteer sports medicine program, whereby you can travel with the U.S. Olympic Team as a volunteer sports massage therapist.
• Seek employment with a sports-injury rehabilitation center. Here, you will learn about sports-related injuries and how to address them. If you choose a center that caters to athletes of your favorite sports, you will become an expert in dealing with those types of athletes. If you choose a center that treats a range of sports-related injuries, then your knowledge base will be much broader.
You should want to make yourself different from other sports-massage therapists. Set yourself apart in some way. Have the best lower-extremity massage routine, for example, or be able to evaluate shoulder injuries and have specific routines for dealing with them. Have the goal of having athletes say, "I have never had any massage therapist do that to me before. That was awesome."
The specialty of sports massage continues to gain acceptance by the athletic community as athletes seek out highly trained sports-massage therapists in their areas. As a group, athletes tend to be highly motivated. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their performances, and most are willing to pay for it.