I had a couple of odd 'phone calls last week.
The 1st was from a Physiotherapy Assistant in Manchester who'd been working for someone else for 13 years and wanted to branch out and work fo himself as a Sports Massage Therapist.
The 2nd was from a 73 year old lady in the Cotswolds who qualified as a massage therapist 40 years ago but had lost her certificate (!) and wanted to know about re-training.
In both cases, my advice to them was the same as it is to people searching out a therapist - go for the highest appropriate qualification you can.
It's true that just because someone has a piece of paper saying they're qualified at a decent level, it doesn't actually mean that they're decent.
So much of remedial massage therapy is down to intuition and experience. But those qualities on their own need to be built on a clinical foundation: the BTEC Level 5 qualification - equivalent to an HND - with it's rigorous training & testing in anatomy. When a client goes to a therapist qualified with the Insititute of Sports and Remedial Massage (ISRM) the very least they get is someone who is able to analyse what's going on from a functional and anatomical point of view and give precise, targetted treatment. The training doesn't guarantee competence, but it's a good start.
A couple of years ago I blogged about the differences between massage qualifications in an article called Dummies Guide to Massage Therapists.
Since I wrote that article, a qualification at the even higher BTEC Level 6 (equivalant to a degree) in Sports Massage has been approved and is being run by The Jing Massage School. The ISRM, though, takes the view that individual research to write a dissertation on one narrow aspect of the field - which is what bumps the qualification up from Level 5 to Level 6 - offers no practical benefit to the therapist or her clients.
There are some well established schools offering the ISRM course:
Recently, a new school has opened in Cambridge - the Cambridge School of Sports Massage (CSSM).
And just this week, LSSM announced that it is now forming a satellite campus in Brighton.
The well established North London School of Sports Massage (NLSSM) offers the same BTEC Level 5 qualification as the ISRM schools, though has now left the ISRM family. But the training is still great.
NLSSM also have satellite courses in Manchester in addition to their 2 London bases, so if you live 'oop North and want to train, it's well worth a look.
As I said a couple of years ago, if you're looking for a Sports Massage Therapist and haven't got a personal recommendation, then start your search with looking for someone who's well qualified. If you're looking to train, it's easy - train to the hghest appropriate level that you can.