Advanced Level Diploma in Holistic Massage Therapy


A sports massage therapist may see patients with severe acute injuries, muscle and joint dysfunction, movement restrictions from old injuries and postural abnormalities.  It is the SMTs professional responsibility to make the correct clinical decisions on whether to refer or proceed with treatment, but not to make any form of diagnosis as this is outside a SMTs scope of practice and can only be made by a medical professional.

To make these informed choices the SMT will need to look at the mechanisms of injury, recognise symptoms and select the correct assessment, treatment and rehabilitation methods.  To achieve this, specific structures and muscular recruitment patterns will need to be analysed in addition to a detailed consultation and ROM (range of movement) testing.

Assessing the condition of the lateral collateral ligaments in a patient presenting with feelings of knee instability when walking up steps. Testing for compression of the brachial plexus in a patient presenting with neck pain and ‘pins and needles’ when performing flyes in the gym.


What sets apart an advanced SMT is be able to identify symptoms, determine possible causes and how to prioritise treatment to create long term improvement.  It is very easy to listen to a patient describe discomfort in a particular area, see that movement is restricted during ROM testing and find tension in those tissues when palpating.  The obvious choice is to work on these tissues to relieve the symptoms – but the relieving effects will be unlikely to last unless underlying factors are addressed.

The SMT needs to think functionally; the interrelationship of joints, muscles, fascia and the supporting mechanisms of these all work in harmony to generate smooth, integrated functional movement.

The muscles use spasms and pain as immobilisers, preventing a particular movement in order to protect itself from further injury and create the time needed for tissue repair to take place.  In many cases, the muscles can appear ‘tense’, ‘tight’ or ‘knotty’ to a massage therapist and the first reaction of an SMT can be to use techniques to stretch and release these tensions.  However, it is now important to evaluate whether altering a short term tissue reaction, activated by the body as a protective mechanism, is the most effective approach or whether there are better alternatives.  

Although tissue dysfunction will result in movement adaptations that can prove stressful or damaging to other structures, rapid alterations of tissue tensions through the use of massage can leave joints and structures vulnerable to instability, over-stretching or damage from rapid or unexpected movements. The SMT needs to use their understanding of these factors to make a clinical decision; balancing consequences.  

So can dysfunction or restrictions be addressed using carefully prescribed exercise (self management by the patient) with soft tissue manipulation to support these changes - patient lead recovery instead of practitioner lead? Yes.  


Now you are stepping into Level 4 thinking.


And now we can add another layer - thinking holistically. This means taking into consideration not just the physical mechanics of the presenting problem or condition but also having a broader view of the body as a whole. For example, the presenting problem may be a restricted and painful shoulder:

Dysfunction at the ankle will alter the walking gait and the stance, asking the hips to work differently which can create muscular changes in the lower back. Once the lower back becomes stiff, flexion and rotation can become affected along with the muscles that extend from the back to the scapula, which may lose its full range of movement. Now the ball and socket joint of the shoulder has to make up for movements the trunk has lost but has to do this without the scapula being able to move into the optimum position to provide leverage …… and now the shoulder joint is hurting.

Can you think like this? And what would you do? This course will help you develop the detailed knowledge you need of joints and muscles and the ability to make effective treatment plans when there seems to be so much going you don’t know where to start.

We also know that injury or the inability to do everyday things can have a negative emotional impact but can our emotions lead to restriction or injury?  



And so to add a further layer to the holistic approach. We will explore how our mind can affect our body, how to observe for postures and movements that may indicate emotional contributions to the physical discomforts your patient may be reporting and how to support your patient without crossing into the boundaries of counselling.


Now you have stepped into holistic level 4 thinking.


This is level 4 sports massage therapy, the holistic way

Level 4 Sports Massage is taught over 7 modules with 4 skills workshops across the course. All assessments for this course are practical or as a formative worksheet and is completed as an ongoing process across your course.  

Course fee: £1,595

Payment plans (depending on circumstances) are available.