"I'm going to the Olympics in London and I'll be massaging the tennis players," says Tamar Kummel, AMTA member and sports massage therapist. "I'll be one of 70,000 volunteers working the games...My third time!" Read more about Tamar's experience in sports massage and how she'll be spending her time in London below.
What kind of education and knowledge does a massage therapist need to work in sports massage?
First, a background in sports is helpful! Knowing which muscles are used in each sport and what type of movement and training is involved is incredibly helpful. Also, a course in sports massage is greatly beneficial. Some places require that type of certification. If you plan on working at events, a general knowledge of the way the event is run is also helpful.
What makes working with athletes different from working with other clients?
I love working with athletes because they know so much about their bodies. They know exactly which area needs work and what kind of pressure they want. Also, most world-class athletes are in excellent condition (even when injured) and their muscles are more hydrated and pliable. And, I find them inspiring.
Describe some of the sports massage work environments you’ve been a part of.
I've worked at two Olympics and my third is coming up this summer in London. I've worked at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship for many years, working with the female athletes. I've worked at the New York Marathon and two Iron Man competitions in Lake Placid. Each event is a completely different atmosphere.
There is no typical work week for me. I travel a lot. I have private practices in New York and Los Angeles, and I do chair massage in both places, too. So, I could be doing a bunch of private sessions, I could be doing chair massage at a corporation or event, or I could be somewhere fun working on the best athletes in the world.
What advice would you offer other massage therapists looking to specialize in sports massage?
If you're looking to get involved in the Olympics, then know that volunteer applications open up just after the previous Olympics closes. So, do an online search for the next one's website. Most large events have websites with a "get involved/volunteer" link. But, if you love a particular sport, and have connections, then ask around. And ask other massage therapists! You must learn to make friends with other massage therapists. It's a one-person profession, so building relationships with peers is your most important resource and support system.
What kind of athletes will you be working with in London? How did you get involved in this kind of volunteer work?
I'm going to the Olympics in London and I'll be massaging the tennis players.The tennis event will be at Wimbledon. So I'm very excited about not just going, but being in Wimbledon and being a part of the Olympics in this way again.
I applied to be a volunteer for London 2012 as soon as the 2010 Olympics were complete. It's a lengthy application process. I'll be one of 70,000 volunteers working the games. This is my third time! I volunteered in Salt Lake in 2002 and Athens in 2004. It's incredibly hard work. Each shift is approximately ten hours long. I'm working seven days straight, all before opening ceremonies. Then I have two days off and two days on. I'll be out of the UK before the Olympics are even over. I am excited to get there and be a part of it all over again!
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