Sports massage often carries a reputation of being just for athletes or gym bunnies. However adding this modality to your roster can open up a wide range of possible clients and opportunities to grow your massage therapy business.
Sports massage is a form of massage involving the manipulation of soft tissue usually to benefit a person who engages in regular physical activity. Sports Massage can be applied before, after or during the activity and is designed to help in correcting issues and prevent further injury or trauma. The benefits of sports massage include;
But don't just take our word for it! Below Susan Findlay director of North London School of Sports Massage and author of Sports Massage: Hands on Guide for Therapists shares a rundown of the top benefits of sports massage!
Despite its slightly misleading name sports massage isn't just for athletes! Anyone who is active can benefit from this type of treatment and in fact for any clients who spend most of their day walking or on their feet, they will really feel a difference after regular appointments.
However sports massage therapy is not suitable for all clients. For example clients with chronic pain or anyone looking to unwind with a relaxing treatment might find this is not the modality for them.
Some sports therapists go on to work in gyms or with sports teams either full time, pitch side or both, helping athletes to be at their best and take the team to new heights!
But even if you don't decide to go down this route, adding sports massage as an extra string to your bow is an effective way to grow your therapy business. By having the skills to deliver a deeper treatment if needed will see you going above and beyond a spa like experience for clients in severe pain. Alternatively if you don't want to work pitch side or within a sports club you could still target local running clubs, gyms or simply promote your new modality as a separate service to reach a wide range of new clients online.
As with all modalities sports massage encompasses a wide range of techniques and as with all your clients adaptability is key! Approaching each treatment as unique and tailored to the person on your massage table is always the best way to go but there are certainly deeper tissue techniques as well as more active movements involving the patient that are utilised in sports massage therapy.
Especially when working with athletes you may need to take into account their training schedules or if you find yourself working pitch side you might need to think on your feet to get them back up and running fast! This can be an exciting challenge that helps keep your practice fresh and you constantly developing as a massage therapist!
Sports massage therapy does require training as there is a different set of skills and knowledge of anatomy and physiology that is required. Whilst different courses will focus on different aspects with some schools preferring to focus on rehabilitation and others perhaps taking a most soft tissue approach, all in all most sports massage therapy courses will cover the following;
As a sports massage therapists you will need very similar supplies to that of a massage therapist working in other modalities. However there will be certain options for your massage therapy equipment that will be more suited to the type of techniques you will be using and potentially the type of clientele you will have. For example when looking at massage tables you might want to consider a massage table that is wider and with a higher working weight capacity in order to treat clients like rugby players for example. A lighter weight table is also more beneficial as you could be carrying the table a lot to sports events.
So let's run through a few bits of kit you might consider.
The massage table which is perfect for you will depend on dimensions, whether you are mobile and need an ultralight table and of course your budget. At Massage Warehouse we are all therapists ourselves so if you have any questions at all you can always give us a ring or email and we can point you in the right direction! Below are three tables we regularly recommend to sports massage therapists.
The Porta-lite Delta II is our best selling treatment table, particularly to sports therapists. It is also the most comfortable, lightest and strongest lightweight treatment table available. It comes in 2 widths, 28 inch and 30 inch so is suitable for larger patients which often is the case with professional sports teams.
You can read more details and see all the specifications for the Porta-Lite Delta II by clicking on the image above.
The Porta-Lite Delta I features the same quality and components of the Delta II table but is narrower at 25 inches wide. This makes it even lighter to carry and the narrower width can be more suited to quick pitch side treatments and assessments. If you are undecided which width to go for, find out the width of the treatment tables you trained on at University and decide if you want to stick with that width or go wider or narrower. For most sports massage therapist it is best to stick with a minimum of 28 inches for the width of their massage table to ensure better patient comfort. However if you want to make the table as light as possible then the narrower 25 inch wide massage table may be more suitable for you.
You can read more details and see all the specifications for the Porta-lite Delta I by clicking on the image above.
If having a very light weight treatment table is not your main priority then the Earthworks Perform is hands down the best massage table on the market for sports therapy. It is the same high quality and has the same components and features as the Porta-Lite Delta tables outlined above except it has a lifting back rest for seated treatments, enabling therapists to raise the patient for increased comfort.
Having a lifting back rest increases the weight by around 3KG however, the Earthwork Perform is still the lightest full dimension treatment table with a lifting back rest available. There are lighter tables available but these do compromise client comfort by reducing the table size and width.
We already supply this model to national teams, premiership football and rugby clubs and it is the backbone of many high performance sports treatment centres.
The Earthworks Perform is available in 2 widths - 25 inches and 28 inches. You can see more details and all the specifications for this massage table by clicking on the image above.
Our favourite waxes for sports massage therapists are from Songbird.
Developed in consultation with James Earls an international lecturer in fascial release techniques and anatomy, the new blend gives fantastic grip into the connective tissue making it perfect for sports massage therapy. The wax allows the therapist to manipulate the tissue it in a wide variety of ways - lengthening, differentiating and mobilising it.
You can try the Fascial wax in an economical 100g tub and then if you like it you can save buy purchasing one of the larger tubs.
Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!
A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.
The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because
Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.
Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.
Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.
Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.
Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.
If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:
Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.
Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.
The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.
You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.
Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.
A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:
1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.
The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.
You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!
There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.
1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):
If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.
2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):
The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.
The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.
1. Rectangle shaped with square corners
This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.
2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners
Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.
3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient
A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.
This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.
The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.