• 09 Jul 2023 10:11 | Anonymous

    Firstly, an introduction to the current qualifications and their knowledge and practical competencies:

    Level 3 qualifications (from around 2010) are based upon working with non-pathological tissue, in other words, the training does not include information about assessing and treating injuries.  Aches and pains of a postural source may be helped by a treatment, but it is outside of scope of practise to work on tissue that is damaged. Massage techniques included are effleurage, petrissage, simple frictions, tapotement, vibrations, compressions and passive stretching. Treatments are based on pre, inter/intra and post event massage.  Level 3 qualifications, on the whole tend to be knowledge based.

    Level 4 qualifications contain knowledge and practical skills working with pathological tissue but only of a muscular, bone or tendinous source. You will have been taught assessment techniques and orthopaedic tests to make a judgement about the source of injury and treatment techniques. Massage techniques included are soft tissue release, connective tissue techniques, corrective frictions, trigger points and myofascial release. Level 4 qualifications tend to assess the application of knowledge, in other words, taking the knowledge and applying it in different situations.

    Level 5 qualifications again is working with pathological tissue and includes ligament and neural injuries. Assessment, and treatment of these injuries are included in the qualification. Massage techniques included are further myofascial techniques, positional release, active isolated stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). Level 5 qualifications ask the student to take the knowledge, apply it in various situations and be able to justify or analyse what they have done.  As you can see, there are increasing levels of understanding and application of knowledge as the levels increase.

    We are completely aware that there are many different qualifications available and some qualifications were gained many years ago. The qualifications gained prior to 2010 may have content from level 4 or 5 so we look at these separately. We also recognise that experience and CPD can extend the skills and knowledge of a therapist considerably, but formal qualifications are assessed during the process and the student is deemed to have an adequate level of knowledge and can demonstrate competence in practical skills.  CPD courses are rarely assessed for competence and experience is difficult to quantify so the only definite measure of skill is the qualification you have.

    Level 5 qualifications form the basis of a foundation degree and a bachelor’s degree is level 6.  Most regulated qualifications are based upon degree level education. Please be aware that a regulated profession is not just a matter of listing the approved therapists but also has a high educational standard attached to it.

    We receive many queries around regulation, specifically… why can’t our industry be statutorily regulated?

    There is a sense that regulation by statute will be a panacea solving all problems of credibility and recognition. What has to be remembered is that regulation is designed primarily to protect the public. Regulation in the UK is on a spectrum based on perceived risk. Statutory regulation is not the badge of honour it once was and is largely reserved for professions regarded as high risk. At the other end of the spectrum is voluntary and self-regulation for low risk professions such as our own.

    The Professional Standards Authority described UK regulation in these words: 

    ‘The regulatory framework for health and care is rapidly becoming unfit for purpose. The people who run regulation struggle to provide coordinated or coherent oversight of the delivery of care, despite their valiant efforts, because its parts are not designed to work together well.’

    Our current belief is that with the vast majority of Therapists belonging to a Professional Association the industry does a reasonable job of protecting the public, and until there is a better regulatory model in the UK self regulation through the PAs and Voluntary regulation through bodies such as CNHC is the best option. The bigger issue is around providing a coherent voice for the industry particularly when talking to Government and this is where we should direct our endeavours in the future.

    If you are interested in the detail of regulation in the UK we would refer you to the Professional Standards Authority website 

  • 01 Jul 2023 09:42 | Anonymous
    • Regulation in the UK is on a spectrum based on perceived risk. Statutory regulation is not the badge of honour it once was and is largely reserved for professions regarded as high risk. At the other end of the spectrum is voluntary and self regulation for low risk professions such as our own. The Professional Standards Authority described UK regulation as ‘not fit for purpose ‘...and we agree. There is a compelling need for a form of regulation for the Soft Tissue Therapies industry beyond that currently offered. We are actively looking at licensing models that operate in other countries.

  • 01 Jul 2023 09:41 | Anonymous
    • The SMA are part of GCMT (http://www.gcmt.org.uk/), a council composed of 12 other Professional Associations and Awarding Organisations. Yvonne Blake, our current Chair, is also Vice Chair of GCMT.  Collectively, and individually, we have approached the Government, the Health and Safety Executive, Public Health England and many others. We also work with CNHC (https://www.cnhc.org.uk/) who have opened a category for Sports Massage Therapists – a form of voluntary regulation for our industry. To demonstrate how long it takes to achieve change, this process has taken four years!

  • 18 May 2023 13:31 | Yvonne Blake (Administrator)

    All therapists whose qualification meets the National Occupational Standards (CNH27) and the Core Curriculum for Sports Massage are eligible to apply to register with CNHC. Some qualifications have already been mapped to these requirements and meet the requirements on the basis of this qualification alone. 

    • VTCT Level 5 Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy 601/5325/8 (prerequisite: Level 4 Diploma in Sports Massage)
    • VTCT (ITEC) Level 5 Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy 601/5571/1(prerequisite: Level 4 Diploma in Sports Massage)
    • BTEC Level 5 Sports Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy (delivered via North London School of Sports Massage)
    • BTEC Level 6 Professional Diploma in Advanced Clinical Massage and Sports Massage (Delivered by Jing Advanced Massage Training)

    Other qualifications not mentioned above will require further analysis.The following level 4 qualifications require additional training and/or evidence of assessed CPD or experience to meet the requirements of the core standards to become registered:

    • Active IQ Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage 601/4929/2 (prerequisite: Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage)
    • VTCT(ITEC) Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage 601/5566/8 (prerequisite: Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage)
    • VTCT Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage 601/4648/5 (prerequisite: Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage)
    • YMCA Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage 601/5123/7 (prerequisite: Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage
    • ISRM Level 4 Diploma Sports and Remedial massage
    • ISRM Level 5 Diploma in Soft Tissue Therapy**
    ** Please note that the ISRM Level 5 qualification does not meet all the core standards for the curriculum of the Sports Massage register and so holders of this qualification must provide either evidence of further training which fills the gaps or formal evidence from within the qualification itself of where they are met. The SMA can supply their completed qualification mapping to aid in this. 

    From a level 4 qualification, further study to achieve a level 5 qualification as listed above will meet all the requirements, otherwise evidence of further training and formal assessment acquired during CPD or other activities is required in the following areas:


    • Myofascial techniques (fascial assessment, direct, indirect, deep, superficial) – describe the physiological effects, explain the protocols of application, demonstrate methods of application and explain cautions
    • Positional release techniques - describe the physiological effects, explain the protocol for application, demonstrate method of application and explain cautions
    • Treatment of oedema with relation to client positioning and treatment sequence


    • Anatomy and pathology of ligaments
    • Assessment of ligament injuries (range of movement – active and passive (end feel), orthopaedic tests) 
    • Advise client on care of ligament injuries


    • Recognition and the organisation of dermatomes and myotomes
    • Characteristics of common peripheral neuropathy patterns


    There are to be a minimum of 5 case studies with at least 5 treatments per case study over a range of different demographics. Total 25 hours.
    • As far as possible, a range of clients should be treated e.g. male, female, adolescent, adult, older adult, person with disabilities etc. The environment could be clinical, non-clinical or at an event. The treatment could be in any of the following contexts; pre-event, post event, inter/intra-event or maintenance.
    • The purpose of the case studies is to demonstrate competency and as such should reflect the range of techniques, assessment and treatment skills learned. 
    • It is anticipated that clients will have an injury or a pathological condition in order to demonstrate knowledge and practical skills.

    Level 3 qualifications gained since 2010 are based on working with non-pathological tissue and therefore require further training at level 4 and 5 in order to meet the requirements of the core curriculum.  There are some level 3 qualifications obtained prior to 2010 which had more detailed content and the SMA can provide individual guidance for therapists with these qualification as to the further training or evidence necessary.

    ALONGSIDE THESE REQUIREMENTS, IT IS NECESSARY TO DEMONSTRATE AT LEAST 15 HOURS OF CPD IN THE PREVIOUS YEAR AND PROOF OF CURRENT PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE.  Your current insurance certificate must be uploaded to your membership profile and you must attach evidence of your CPD in the form of certificates, reviews, self reflection etc.  See SMA CPD information.

  • 10 May 2023 08:30 | Yvonne Blake (Administrator)

    The SMA's entrance requirements are of course,  about level of qualification but also about content. Sports Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation BSc/MSc are obviously level 6/7, however the main focus of these qualifications is not sports massage; the massage module is often just a unit within the qualification which only contains basic massage skills; Level 3. Please also see FAQ entitled Education levels and Regulation below.

    To become a full member of the SMA, we need to see evidence that you meet the content requirements of the National Occupational Standards (NOS).  Do do this you can cross reference your qualification to the NOS and supply the module information as evidence. 

    The SMA often cannot obtain the level of detail required in order for us to assess the content of your course unless you come from one of our Accredited schools and your qualification was obtained within the time the university was accredited.

    Please request this detail from yvonne@thesma.org

  • 26 Nov 2022 12:00 | Nick Mooney (Administrator)
    A research article by John Sharkey FMSA was published today in the International Journal of Current Research specifically for exercise professionals and manual therapists working with clients with Long-Covid.  This is a free access paper and available for sharing with as many people as possible. 


    The industry needs more research in relation to Long-Covid and how manual therapists play an important role in ensuring people make a full recovery in a safe and appropriate manner. In that regard, we feel this is an important paper to share widely within our community. 

  • 26 May 2022 10:00 | Anonymous


    There are no longer any formal Covid rules in any UK country, which isn't to say that Covid is no longer an issue.

    Many actions we were required to carry out during Covid should be normal good practise for our industry, including, high standards of hygiene and cleaning, both for the clinic and equipment, and for the therapist, and should therefore continue.

    Some things you could also consider:

    • continuing to ventilate your treatment room between clients
    • verbally (or even electronically) screening clients for Covid symptoms prior to treatment 
    • asking clients who are experiencing Covid like symptoms to rearrange their appointment, i.e., a cold. Many people are no longer testing because of the cost of the tests
    • testing yourself if you have Covid symptoms and NOT treating people should you unfortunately test  positive.  Our close proximity to the clients means we are very likely to pass Covid on
    • if in doubt about a client or yourself, use gloves, mask and aprons to minimise the risk of spreading the disease


get SOCIAL !