Molly Verschinegel, of Northwest Sports Massage, is an experienced LMT specializing in Portland-area sports massage for teams and individuals. We asked her to provide insight into how sports massage therapy enthusiasts can land a job working with a professional sports team. Her first response was to alert LMTs that such jobs are scarce, for several reasons.
First, many athletes and organizations are accustomed to receiving massage on a volunteer basis. They may expect therapists to provide free massage as a way to beef up their LMT resumes. She reflects, “Working at an event or with a sports team is very physical, and [sports massage therapists] work harder, by far, than any other sports medicine team member (chiropractors, physicians, physical therapists, etc). [LMTs] need to make sure that we are valued.”
At the same time, Molly highlights that many sports organizations are just now beginning to appreciate the benefits of having an LMT on the sports medicine team. She points out that sports massage therapy provide many benefits, including:
• Injury management.
• Stress relief, especially for college students who may be juggling sports, academics, and pressure from coaches.
• Decreased pain from intense workouts and games.
As teams see the competitive advantage of having a sports massage therapist on staff, they may be more willing to employ LMTs. Hopeful massage therapists can gain valuable experience volunteering for teams until paying positions surface.
Here’s Molly advice for Licensed Massage Therapists who would like to find jobs working with sports teams.
Sports Massage: How to find Work with Sports Teams
- 1. Study kinesiology, biomechanics, and human movement as much as possible.
Kinesiology and anatomy are emphasized in every rigorous massage school, NJ to OR. However, massage therapists working with athletes require specialized knowledge in how each sport taxes they body. For instance, a sports massage therapist working with track teams must understand the stresses and common injuries of running. When seeking work with a certain team, therapists should research a few questions for the given sport:
• Where will the athletes most likely hurt?
• Which muscles will be shortened? Which will be weak?
• How does one’s team position affect the sport injury profile?
Additionally, it’s wise to create a profile for each athlete and team. How does the team train? Do they use weights? Are any specialty workouts included?
- 2. Let current athlete clients do your marketing.
Garner additional sports massage clients by asking your current clients to send their running group buddies, bike teammates, or soccer mates into your office. Consider a discount for those referred by current clients. Ask your active clients what events they do. and if those events ever use LMTs. One day of volunteering at a sports massage event can bring multiple new clients in your door.
- 3. Get to know athletic trainers.
Molly advises that the trainers are the ones who can recognize the utility of team massage. They are also the ones who will ask decision makers – team owners, general managers, and/or coaches – about paying for sports massage therapy services. The trainers are the individuals LMTs should aim to impress, because they are the ones directly in contact with both athletes and team decision makers.
- 4. Get to know other sports massage therapists.
In every industry, it’s wise to get to know those whom you hope to emulate. By networking with other sports massage therapists, you can learn valuable tidbits, such as which teams are looking for massage therapy help.
Finally, continuing education courses on sports massage therapy are valuable for those who hope to find a position with a Northwest sports team. Taking sports massage classes can enliven your personal interest in the subject, while also honing your skills. If you’re looking for a local sports massage therapy CE course, consider attending Molly Verschingel’s course at the upcoming 2015 AMTA-OR Annual Meeting, this year held on the East West College. From 8:15 to 11:34am on Saturday April 25th, Molly will present a workshop titled, “Sports Massage: Elite Event Calibration Level 1.” Designed for LMT’s who are interested in working at upper level sports events, the workshop will include:
• What is expected of sports medicine staff, including massage therapists
• How to communicate with other sports medicine providers
• Tips on how massage therapists should conduct themselves around athletes,
• Evidence-based stretching and muscle energy methods