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  • 12 Mar 2021 10:00 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)


    We recommend that you double-check you are following the protocols on client screening, PPE, infection control and compliance with Track and Trace.  We further recommend that you include within your client notes the following:

    • that the patient has been Covid screened
    • that the patient is wearing an IIR mask and the therapist is in full PPE
    • that the patient's temperature has been taken (and what it was)

    These can be completed quickly using the following format:

    Screened ✅ Pt IIR  ✅ Me Full PPE   Temp Check  

    You are not obliged to continue working if you feel uncomfortable in the Covid environment


    Information correct as of 7th April, 2021     

    Sports massage therapists are allowed to return to work on April 12th.

    Therapists at all levels can work in a clinical setting, mobile or home based. The previous working conditions are just as important i.e. the need for documented risk assessments, full PPE (gown, mask, apron and visor), regular cleaning schedules, strict hygiene precautions and screening of each client.  

    The Resource Pack (available to active SMA members) contains all the necessary documentation to comply with the above information.

    Please ensure you keep your clients and yourselves safe above all else.

    Northern Ireland

    Information correct as of 7th April 2021

    Therapists in Northern Ireland may continue as before.

    The latest Guidance released clearly says sports massage therapy is exempt from closure and, as the information does not mention levels of qualification, we assume it is all levels.  The SMA therefore advise you may work under the strict conditions which have been imposed since the first lockdown i.e., documented risk assessments, full PPE (gown, mask, apron and visor), cleaning schedules, strict hygiene precautions and screening of each client.  

    Latest Government document entitled The Executive's Pathway out of Restrictions.

    The next review will be 15th April


    Information correct as of 7th April, 2020

    The SMTO have created an excellent infographic explaining the current Scottish Guidelines.  https://vimeo.com/522105814/0aedb00dfc 

    The earliest date that close contact services may be eligible to return is 26th April.


    Information correct as of 7th April, 2021

    Sports massage therapists are allowed to return to work on April 12th.

    Therapists at all levels can work in a clinical setting and home based, (mobile to be confirmed). The previous working conditions are just as important i.e. the need for documented risk assessments, full PPE (gown, mask, apron and visor), regular cleaning schedules, strict hygiene precautions and screening of each client.  

    The Resource Pack (available to active SMA members) contains all the necessary documentation to comply with the above information.

    Please ensure you keep your clients and yourselves safe above all else.

    *Please note: we can only offer guidance to therapists registered as members of The SMA.  If you are a member of a different Professional Association you must refer to their guidance on working as it has implications for your insurance cover.  If you would like to join the SMA, please e-mail membership@thesma.org with details of your main qualification in Soft Tissue Therapy and we will advise on eligibility.  Existing members are more than welcome to e-mail us with any questions on this guidance or other issues.

  • 23 Jul 2020 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

    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.


  • 10 Jul 2020 15:00 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)

    Unfortunately, the Government Guidelines do not give definitive advice about the PPE we should be wearing. We have consulted with the Government (BEIS) and their response was that the size, location and ventilation in the room may influence the requirement, as will the particular client.

    With this in mind, these are our recommendations and if you choose not to follow these guidelines then please be prepared to record and justify your reasoning, should it be necessary.

    The following quotes are in the government guidelines suggesting these could be the minimum requirement, although the wearing of a visor is dependent upon the period of time spent in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose::

    VISOR: This should take the form of a clear visor that covers the face and provides a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking. Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. It should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face.

    GLOVES: Unless crucial for the treatment, change practices to avoid any potential skin to skin contact or use gloves where possible.”

    However, we would suggest that in order to ensure safety for yourselves and your clients, that further PPE (i.e. apron and IIR mask) along with the client wearing a mask/face covering too, may be more appropriate in order to mitigate risk.  We feel this provides better protection for yourself and clients, is aligned to medical advice and instils confidence in you from the client.

    This is only our suggestion; it is not mandatory and is not required under Government guidelines. It will be a personal decision based on your own assessment of risk as to whether or not you follow this advice.

    If you choose not to wear full PPE all the time, we strongly suggest that in the following circumstances that you reconsider in order to protect yourself and your clients:

    If you are a mobile therapist

    When the client is more vulnerable:

    • Client over 70 yrs. old
    • Asthmatic/lung conditions
    • Diabetic
    • Heart condition
    • Pregnancy
    • Depleted immune system

    When the client is exposed to Covid-19 in their employment:

    • NHS or front-line worker
    • A carer in a home care setting
    • Someone shielding a vulnerable adult
    The above advice is based upon consultation with government officials and you can find a copy of the guidelines here 
  • 10 Jul 2020 11:00 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)
    Despite the following comments the SMA suggest the taking of your own, and the client's temperature as other healthcare professionals, in similar fields are doing to demonstrate due diligence, build confidence and trust with clients and to show professionalism.
    • There is much debate about the worth of taking a client’s (or your own) temperature with regard to whether or not the results are relevant. A hot day, rushing to get to the clinic etc. can increase a client’s temperature and also there is a question about the efficacy of contactless thermometers. The SMA feels it provides some indication of possible illness, demonstrates due diligence and once again, may instil confidence in the therapist from the client’s perspective.  
    • If a client’s temperature is raised but screening results are negative, maybe give the client time to sit quietly and cool down. Be aware of their potential to infect others if they subsequently do have Covid-19 and have entered your premises.

  • 09 Jul 2020 10:57 | Paul Medlicott (Administrator)

    Please direct your complaints to the Consumer Helpline who will pass on your complaint to Trading Standards https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/if-you-need-more-help-about-a-consumer-issue/

  • 09 Jul 2020 10:11 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)

    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 2020 09:44 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)
    Returned to work 13th July 2020 for England, 6th July 2020 for Northern Ireland. Still awaiting dates for Wales and Scotland
    • We have been seeking clarity on the return to work situation for weeks. We found ourselves in the grey area between Physiotherapy and Massage Parlours and having to navigate ambiguity in Government guidelines. Our sector has only just come on the Government radar with the correct terminology finally being used. We have lobbied MPs and that process is still going on. Our objective is to ensure our profession is firmly placed in the healthcare sector to avoid misunderstandings in the future. Having said that we have a responsibility to ensure that our members and the public are protected so we will err on the side of caution and adhere to Government guidelines no matter how unpalatable they may be.

  • 01 Jul 2020 09:42 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)
    • 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 2020 09:41 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)
    • The SMA are part of GCMT (http://www.gcmt.org.uk/), a council composed of 12 other Professional Associations and Awarding Organisations. Paul Medlicott, our current Chair, chaired the GCMT for ten years, taking it from near collapse to the major driving force that it is in our industry now. Paul no longer chairs the GCMT but we have two representatives on the council and regularly attend their meetings, working closely with them at all times. In the current situation we are having multiple meetings weekly to do what we can to improve our situation. 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 will be imminently opening 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!

  • 01 Jul 2020 09:40 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)
    • These industries are regulated, which means they are controlled by Government rules. In other words, they are a controlled industry and members can be struck off and unable to work if they break the rules. Our industry is not regulated (see above) and consequently advice we give is just that, its advisory, we cannot enforce it. If sports massage therapists do not follow our advice, we can remove that person from our Association but that doesn’t mean they can no longer work. It is not a necessity for sports massage therapists to be a member of a Professional Association at all and therefore there are many people working within our industry with minimal qualifications. Should the government say massage therapists can return to work, it includes ANYONE, not just the appropriately qualified, professional therapists.

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