As you go about your daily work as a massage therapist, there’s a good chance you might begin to notice a few patterns, especially if you’re looking for them. For example, you may recognize that your enthusiasm ticks up a few notches when a client presents with a specific stress or strain she hopes to ease in the bodywork session.

Paying attention to such situations is a great way to begin considering what type of continuing education you’d like to take. For most massage therapists and bodyworkers, continuing education is a necessity when it comes to renewing one’s license to practice. However, it can serve as so much more than that if you put in the necessary forethought and planning.

As mentioned above, be sure to pay extra attention to those times when you feel your passion for the work you do is on the rise; that may be a direction you should steer your career.

One such scenario might be the massage therapist who gets especially excited when her more athletic clients schedule appointments. This bodyworker could be one who truly enjoys working on people with a fairly deep understanding and respect for their own bodies and muscles.

Another perk of providing massage to athletic clients might be the chance to take part in any recovery process that comes in the aftermath of an injury, even if it’s only a slight pull or strain.

If any of this resonates with you, then consider enrolling in continuing education courses that focus on massage for athletes or sports massage. A general continuing education class on the topic as a whole could be the best place to start.

Fortunately, the wide array of continuing education offered to massage therapists and bodyworkers usually ensures you can get as specific as you want as you progress in your classes.

A class that addresses rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction, for example, will most likely fall under the umbrella of sports massage. The class should help students understand and identify possible causes and contributing factors for this condition, such as postural or structural misalignment, muscle imbalance, trigger points and movement dysfunction.

Techniques taught to address rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction may well include myofascial release, trigger-point release, cross-fiber friction and muscle energy techniques, among others.

Students should be taught the application of basic orthopedic assessments; active, passive and resisted range of motion techniques; and palpation assessment to help isolate and determine the location and type of dysfunction.
Of course, every continuing education course is a bit different, but these are a few components you might find in a high-quality class on rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction.

Another area-specific continuing education class that could be included in the realm of sports massage would be a class that covers iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, a common hip and knee disorder associated with athletes.

A bodywork course on the subject is likely to teach appropriate soft-tissue techniques to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms associated with this disorder, as well as the impact this condition can have on training and performance.

—Brandi Schlossberg