A massage therapist career can take you in whatever direction you wish. For East West College grad Robyn Baehler, sports massage therapy specialization lead her to treat athletes at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene this past July. Now, Robyn is also working in our Oregon massage school as our Alumni Services Coordinator and has a chance to help tomorrow’s LMTs find work after graduation. Today we’re delighted to share the story of Robyn’s connection to the massage world and working with athletes, including how she ended up providing massage to world-class running stars. Robyn also provides insight into how a budding massage therapist can steer her or his massage therapist career toward treating athletes at national and international competitions.
As a high school student, Robyn ran around Coos Bay, her hometown. She explains that running is “in her blood.” Today, she considers herself an avid runner; indeed, she has competed in running for the past 25 years. Since 2001 she has also coached track. So it’s no wonder that, after completing East West College’s 800-hour massage therapy program, Robyn decided to specialize in treating track athletes.
Providing Sports Massage Therapy at the 2016 US Olympics Track & Field Trials
Robyn calls working at the trials “special,” and “an honor,” explaining that she has “always looked up to the athletes who, with hard work and dedication, realize their dream to represent the USA.” For her, working on Olympic trial track and field athletes is a “win-win”—she gets to use her massage skills in an incredible atmosphere of competition and camaraderie.
Kicking of A Sports Massage Therapist Career at East West College
After twelve years in the corporate world, working for companies such as Nike, Robyn decided to go back to school to become a massage therapist. She chose a career in massage therapy because she wanted others to feel the same benefits of healing, preventative care, and rehabilitation that she herself enjoyed through regular massage. Robyn explains, “EWC provided me with a great foundation for treatment-based massage.”
Specializing in Sports Massage Therapy
To track her career toward sports massage therapy, Robyn has “worked as a volunteer at sports events; taken sports massage specific CE classes; and worked in a chiropractic office where athletes (from recreational to professional) would come in.” She explains that these activities helped her gain experience. They also allowed her to make an informed decision to move forward on the path toward sports massage.
Sports Massage Benefits for Athletes
In her work with track athletes, Robyn has observed the following benefits of regular sports massage:
- Warming up. Faster strokes will help get blood moving, preparing muscles for performance.
- Cooling down. Slower strokes, stretching, and flushing techniques can help athletes enjoy faster recovery from competition.
- Manage Soreness and Stiffness. Multiple competitions over several days can leave athletes’ bodies tight and sore. Massage can soothe tense, tender muscles.
- De-Stress. Athletes must deal with travel, strenuous workouts, and intense competition; massage helps them de-stress so that they can perform at their best.
- Facilitate Healing. Massage can help with pain management and healing for any injuries that may occur during competition. Finally, Robyn emphasizes that the track athletes she treated benefitted from the collaborative care model at the trials. She worked with an international sports medicine group that included physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and chiropractors.
Serving Tomorrow’s Sports Massage Therapists
In her role as Alumni Services Coordinator, Robyn helps EWC grads navigate the post-graduation world. She advises hopeful sports massage therapists to get experience through volunteer and professional sports massage work. With some sports massage training, therapists can work at sports events, which are excellent for networking. Robyn also recommends learning how to work with tools (cupping, fascial adhesion tools, etc.), which many athletes prefer. Having multiple massage modalities is also popular with athletes.
We are thrilled to have Robyn on the East West College team!