Educating sports massage clients with dysfunctions

Educating clients in the sports massage industry is just as important as treating them. There are lots of areas you can educate your client, but today we are going to look at just one area. I’ve learnt over the years as a sports massage therapist, that nearly everyone that comes to you thinks they have an injury. If there is pain involved, loss of movement or even weakness, the assumption is an injury and yes sometimes this is the case. However, more often than not it is actually a dysfunction.

These can be as debilitating as an injury, just as painful and can sometimes show similar signs of inflammation. Left untreated they may well become injuries leaving your client with two problems, the dysfunction as this doesn’t go away and the injury. This blog isn’t about how to identify the differences or how to treat, that will be part of the course, this is about handling the client and educating them.

Get the client involved

Like most problems a client presents you with, client really needs to get involved when dealing with dysfunctions. Without their input you will get on top of things but much slower. You may however, not be able to get rid of the issue. Your client may need to make lifestyle changes. They may need to change the way they do things or do some exercise, rehab. This can be really tricky as a lot of people don’t understand how the body works. They are also paying they expect, you to fix it. So this is where educating clients in the sports massage industry is really important.

To get anyone fully on board with anything they need to understand it. This is not down to a cellular level, but you need to be able to give them a basic understanding. You need to arm them with knowledge – the benefits of what you do and the benefits of what they can do. They really need to be part of the planning process as well. This in most cases will lead to client engagement and taking responsibility for themselves.

Educate yourself

To effectively educate your clients, you need to firstly educate yourself. You need to understand the differences, understand why these things happen and be able to give the right advice within your professional boundaries. If you don’t fully understand these areas you won’t be able to explain them in appropriate language that your client will understand.

Understand your client

You then need to understand your client. No two dysfunctions are exactly alike, the same as no two clients are alike. One size does not fit all and you must remember this. It’s easy when dealing with professional athletes you tell them what to do. They do it. It’s their job, their future and potentially their gold medal. However, your average person is not the same. They have other commitments in their life, families, hobbies, jobs that don’t require them to spend four hours a day in the gym. Look at your clients lifestyle, see what spare time they have how easy the changes or rehab might be. If it’s not realistic they won’t do it. Talk about the possible causes of the dysfunction; everything from sitting in a car, at a desk or the way they sleep.

Woman having sports massage
Educating sports massage client – learn how and when

Think about the changes your client will need to make

Think about the changes the client will need to make. Talk them through this, again involving them in creating the plan. Then break it all down into doable bit size chunks. Even if that means one thing at a time, you are more likely to get them to do it if they don’t feel overloaded. When giving rehab exercises be very careful to give clear precise instructions. Remember number of sets and reps, how many times a day, how uncomfortable it should or shouldn’t be. Give crib sheets, record them on their phone, do whatever you can to make it easy for them are remove excuses.

Keeping clients on the straight and narrow

Once you have got your client helping themselves you need to keep them on the straight and narrow. Remember to show interest and give them feedback, check in with them every session and change things if necessary. It’s human nature to get lazy with rehab once things start to get better, this is usually the critical time when you need to encourage them the most.

A lack of educating sports massage clients

There is a lack of educating clients in the sports massage industry. In fact I see it happen across a lot of similar industries. It might sound like a lot of hard work, but it will go a long way to making you a practitioner that is a cut above the rest, it’s easy to rub someone its not so easy to educate and guide them.