Like most people, my journey into sports massage and sports therapy has been an evolving learning process. For many years I was a ski instructor around the world so loved spending time outdoors and teaching people to ski. Due to my own injuries I became fascinated in the body’s healing and rehabilitation of injuries. So, I decided to do a Sports Therapy degree which I completed in 2008.
When I finished this Sports Therapy degree, I didn’t feel ready to open up my own practice, and the employment options are quite limited. So I went back to what I knew, which was teaching. Then, after 10 winters and a chronic injury which a massage therapist helped me get on top of, I decided that actually I wanted to be in one place and wanted to get back into injuries and using my skills to help people move better.
I started to look at how I could do that and came across Susan Findlay and NLSSM. When I learned massage at university it was all using my thumbs and using effleurage and petrissage but little else. I attended the NLSSM introductory course, and decided that this was a great way for me to get back my hands on skills, but actually building on them further. I could also see I could re-learn my anatomy. More importantly, I could see how it would help me to feel confident in how I approach treating people with injuries.
I started on the diploma and qualified in 2014 and on the course I developed my hands-on skills but also learnt lots of different techniques. I became confident in my ability to palpate and feel what was going on in within the tissues rather than just pushing through them.
Whilst doing my log book hours I built up a basis of volunteer clients so when I finished I opened my own clinic. I have done several CPD courses with Susan including the Neck, Jaw and Chest Workshop, and the brilliant Oncology Massage workshop. The courses are a great way of learning new approaches and new skills. My approach to treating clients is trying to help them to learn how to manage their body regardless of whatever conditions they may have. Afterall, they live in their body and it often leaves clues about what it needs but we don’t listen. In clinic, I have chosen to specialise in chronic aches and pains.
I think NSSM is a great way for people to get a high level qualification, but also have the confidence that they can go out there and treat people straight away, based on scientific knowledge but also a whole body approach. I also like how even after the course you can always reach out to Susan and the team for help and support.
Over the last couple of years I have introduced Pilates as a way of continuing the rehabilitation of clients from the hands on approach to a movement, strengthening approach. It has also been brilliant as clients become more aware of how they move on a daily basis. This has been invaluable during covid lockdowns as I have been able to give exercises and treatment advise plus pilates classes online to help my clients move and feel better.
– Gemma Gutteridge