Matthew Parks is a sports massage therapist who practices in Bozeman, Montana. Learn more about what helps Matthew succeed as a sports massage therapist.
What kind of education and knowledge does a massage therapist need to work in sports massage?
Aside from finishing a reputable massage therapy school and becoming board certified, I feel an undergraduate degree in a related field (exercise physiology or kinesiology, for example) is the better addition to improve the skill set for the sports masage therapist.
What makes working with athletes different than working with other clients?
I think one of the biggest differences is the ability to work more specifically on target areas than just giving a whole body massage. This approach starts with more orthopedic assessment to determine which treatment is necessary. And current work setting can be varied.
What is a day in the life like for you when practicing sports massage?
I am also a triathlon coach and personal trainer, so I mix and match my appointments every week in between massage sessions and coaching and training sessions with my clients.
I typically have between five and eight massage sessions per day, four to five days per week. There are typically two sports massage sessions per day.
Most massage sessions include corrective exercise review so the client knows what self-care they should perform.
What are the benefits and challenges of working in sports massage?
One benefit of being a sports massage therapist is working with a more specific clientele instead of the general population. My clients come to me for a specific reason, not just to relax. A challenge I have is reminding people that the foam roller does not replace a skilled massage therapist!
What advice would you offer other massage therapists looking to specialize in sports massage?
Don't be afraid to take a more intellectual approach to your massage work. Your intuition may serve you well, but sometimes there is a specific protocol for you to follow in order to improve the performance of your client.
Are there specific personal or professional traits that have helped you be successful in sports massage?
A high attention to detail is important to be successful in sports massage.
I also feel my professional communication with clients and other practitioners assists with this process. It's vital to get all the necessary facts about the client and follow up with them after each session.
I also feel it's important that I have experience in endurance training and racing to help with the rapport with my clients.
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