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I've Qualified As A Massage Therapist - Now What?

September 18, 2014 4 min read


Guest post from Daniel Ruscillo of BodyAid, on how to progress your career and stay up to date on developments in the body work and massage therapy industry. There's a little bonus at the end for you, too!


As soon as we are qualified as massage therapists, most of us will soon start thinking, "What’s next?"
That’s how I felt at least, and in hindsight there would definitely be a few things I should have immediately got on with.
As in every profession, it’s important to keep up to date and understand the particular industry developments and latest research reports. I qualified as a sports massage therapist over 7 years ago and one of the first recommendations I would make is to get some experience.
My first few months were largely spent in clinics and private massages at the client’s home. This is great in terms of ‘that’ type of experience, but my skills only really developed once I came out of my comfort zone. Make sure you challenge yourself!  
So to begin with, look at lots of different areas where massage is performed, and in my case specifically sports massage - not just areas you are comfortable in. Here are some examples of the areas I eventually experienced:
1. Work in/on events. I was the guy at the end of a marathon ready to help weary runners and remove some of the pain! It was fast and furious and completely different to a clinic setting.
2. Sports Clubs or Football Clubs. This involved a lot of pre- and post event massage as well as some injury assessment. Again this enabled me to practice differing positions, techniques and make sure my knowledge was up to date. This type of work can be found by volunteering or simply writing to the event or club. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, as most will respond.
3. I offered my services at local businesses. Office based work, where employees could come into the break room and have a chair massage for 5-10 minutes. Companies like this sort of thing, as it keeps the workforce happy and relaxed, and increases productivity.
4. Care Homes. A great experience dealing with more frail and elderly clients. This allowed me to practice different depths of applications, while juggling a lot of contradictory external factors that might effect a treatment. 
Gaining a vast range of experience also helped me to gain more confidence.
Your confidence is essential, as your confidence will transmit to your clients, making them feel safe and confident in you as a therapist. I waited a while but having my time again, I would have taken these steps as soon as possible. In essence it will be easier for newbies, as you haven’t picked up any pre-conceptions or bad habits.
At a certain point in your career you will start to think about advancing your qualifications and knowledge.
Look at taking extra courses to expand your portfolio. There are a wide range of courses available that really can suit all lifestyles. I looked for more ‘massage courses’, as I thought that learning more techniques or ways of doing things would make me a better therapist. 
Now, that will not always be the case if you just stick to one stream of therapy. If we take any type of massage, fundamentally the goal is to relieve tension in the muscles and help relieve any pain or tension that is affecting our client’s everyday life. In hindsight I would definitely have told myself to look more closely at courses along the anatomy and physiology lines.
Why, you might ask? 
Well, knowing how and why the body moves is essential to improving our application of massage.
Knowing the right areas to target, as at times there might be compensating muscles that need attention and not just the reported area. You are also more able to identify any potential activities that your client is performing that might be the cause of discomfort or tension.
Another route could be something like a gym based course, such as gym instruction.
Again this might sound a little crazy, but a course along these lines would help give you an idea of post-treatment work. It would give you the confidence, qualification and knowledge base to advise clients on exercises that can help relieve symptoms.
This would create a complete service, where referrals would become more frequent. A course along these lines could also help you to develop valuable relationships within the industry. 
It is difficult at times to know what CPD (continuing professional development) you should undertake. But in my experience, aim for areas that will enhance your knowledge and allow you to be very diverse. 
One of the main reasons therapists don’t grow is the reluctance to do anything other than ‘massage’.
In actual fact being a massage therapist is much more than just that. You need to understand client needs, the causes (reasons) behind appointments, and in a lot of cases be prepared to offer post-treatment advice. Building this type of reputation around your practice will ensure you gain a lot of referrals and demand in the long run. 
If you need any advice or would like to look into CPD courses, such as Sports Massage or Gym Instruction, please do not hesitate to come visit us at You will also get 10% off any course if you mention Massage Warehouse! 

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