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7 Things Sports Massage Therapists Need to Know

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woman getting a back massage

Massage therapy is a broad discipline with a variety of specialties. Though many massage therapists choose to offer a broad range of services, some may want to focus on a specific modality.

Right now, sports massage is generating a lot of interest in the massage therapy world. If you’re considering specializing as a sports massage therapist, here are 7 things we think you should know:

  1. “Sports Massage” Is Kind of an Umbrella Term 

Even though sports massage is already a sub-category within the massage therapy field, it is itself comprised of various modalities and techniques. These can include injury recovery massage, pre- and post-competition massage, and even active release therapy massage.

  1. You Probably Won’t Be Working on World-Famous Athletes

    …At least not a first (or maybe ever). However, that doesn’t mean sports massage isn’t an exciting career. No matter what level of athletes you work with, you will still get to enjoy the satisfaction of helping them compete at their best.

    If you do want to work with professional or elite athletes, you’ll have to make sure you put in the time and effort needed to climb that ladder. Networking, joining a professional association, completing continuing education courses, and even pursuing an undergraduate degree in a related field (like kinesiology, physiology, or exercise science) are all things you’ll want consider if you want to reach your goal.

    1. Be Prepared to Do Self-Promotion When You’re First Starting Out

Even if you don’t plan on working with world-famous athletes, you’ll still have to do a lot of the legwork to get your name out there and start attracting clients. Because sports massage caters to a limited group of people, you might have to track them down instead of waiting for them to find you. Some great ways to start getting your name out there include:

      • Hanging flyers in local gyms (get permission first!)
      • Approaching a college’s athletics department
      • Finding local sports leagues

This is by no means an exclusive list, but hopefully it helps you get the juices flowing.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Look Outside of the Box for Clients

    Like we already said, approaching local sports leagues or teams is a great way to find clients. However, don’t limit yourself to the “classic” sports like basketball, football, or soccer. If you look outside the box (think roller derby leagues, sailing clubs, cycling groups, etc.), you’re more likely to find potential clients that other sports massage therapists haven’t already approached.

  1. Not All Techniques Will Work for Every Client
    Not only does every sport affect the body in a different way, even within a sport, individual athletes have different histories, physiologies, and ways of moving their body. Being able to understand these differences and treat them accordingly is an important aspect of sports massage therapy.
    1. Cultivate Relationships with Other Medical Providers

The truth of the matter is that massage alone will not always solve every problem your clients are facing. An integrated approach to your client’s care will position you, in their eyes, as an expert who really cares about their health and healing. By developing relationships with other medical practitioners, you will improve both your reputation and skill set. Additionally, a positive working relationship with others in the medical field is mutually beneficial. As you refer clients to them for additional care, they will likely reciprocate and send some of their clients your way who could benefit from sports massage. Some specific types of medical practitioners you’ll want to consider working with include:

  • Athletic trainers
  • Physical therapists
  • Osteopaths
  • Chiropractors
  • Sports physicians

Please note, however, that you may face some hurdles with others in the medical profession. Not every physician understands the benefits of massage and how it can complement their services.

Don’t let this deter you. Don’t take anything personally, and be prepared to educate in a professional, calm way.

    1. Get Insured

This should be a no-brainer for all massage therapists, but it’s especially true for sports massage therapists. Because you are working with people who place a really high value on their ability to move effectively, any accidental injury (or aggravation on an existing injury) during the massage may have a higher chance of leading to a liability claim or litigation. Having proper insurance coverage can help mitigate the cost to defend yourself against the claim, as well as help cover awarded damages like paying for the individual’s medical expenses.

Enjoy the Rewards of a Sports Massage Career

While becoming a sports massage therapist takes a lot of extra work and knowledge, the effort is worth it, especially if you truly love athletics. As you embark on this career path, we at BBI wish you the best of luck, and want you to know that, when you’re ready, we’re here to help you with all of your massage insurance needs.

We invite you to learn more about our policy or to contact us with any questions by calling (888) 568-0548. If you’re ready to purchase a policy, please click here.


Lyndsey Larsen author pic


Lyndsey Larsen is the Marketing Manager for Beauty & Bodywork Insurance and writes about business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and insurance.

Lyndsey Larsen is an experienced writer with a background in corporate communications and nonprofits, SAAS corporations, and nutraceutical companies. She has previously worked as a journalist for regional and national publications. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing butterflies, rockhounding, and spending time with her two kids in Utah’s mountains or deserts.

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