Student Q&As

Student Q&As with Anita Snowballanita-snowball-headshot

Anita Snowball is a Senior Tutor at the Middlesex School of Complementary Medicine in London, established since 1992. As a Senior Tutor she has had to deal with a wide variety of queries from both students and graduates. So go ahead, send in your questions to Anita at and test her knowledge!

Q: I have been asked to work on a client with Multiple Sclerosis; she has spoken to her doctor who has said it would be a good idea for her to have massage. Have you got any advice with regards to the massage? I have researched the disease, I just want to do the best for her and give her the best treatment I can. Thank you.

A: I have worked with clients with MS and they have always found it beneficial.  Massage is indicated as it ensures good systemic circulation, helps reduce oedema in the limbs and eases any rigidity in the muscles. My client seemed to get thirsty through the massage so have some water handy for them. They also got cold so I had a blanket to use if necessary. There may be some days when they cannot tolerate the massage so I would ring first to see if they are up to it that day. I explained this during consultation so they expected my call, or they rang me if they did not feel up to it. This arrangement worked really well and made them feel relaxed about phoning me to cancel the appointment for that day. It demonstrates that you are willing to work with them for their well being.

Q: I have just started my training in massage and after the first couple of classes I noticed that my wrists were really hurting.  It eased off by the next day but I am a bit concerned that it will continue and may cause some damage. Is this a normal thing that happens?

A: You have to remember that massage is a physical activity and that it does take time to develop your massage fitness.  However you may be putting too much pressure through your hands and have not learnt how to transfer your weight through your legs first and not just pushing through your hands.  Ask your tutor for advice and guidance with your application and posture.

Q: I have just started Indian Head Massage training – this being the second therapy I have trained in. I have been getting a bit frustrated with the lack of strength and fluid movements with my left side. I am right handed and have seemed to pick up the movements much quicker on this side and can put a good amount pressure but it just does not really seem to be improving much with the left. My other therapy is Reflexology and I do not have issues with that, but I think this is because the movements are much less vigorous! Is this something other people have experienced?

A: I have addressed this before and again all I can say is practice, practice and more practice! We always seem to think that we will be able to do it because we are qualified already; I had real problems with my left hand initially in my application of Indian Head Massage; however with a lot of work and thoughtful application my left hand caught up with my right.  Don’t over think it and you will soon be a natural. We have to accept that we need time to learn new applications and this ensures that we respect the treatment.

Q: I would like to be able to give a better range of aftercare advice and perhaps some diet and nutrition recommendations but I do not have any qualifications in this area although I do know a lot as I am interested in it.  Is it OK for me to tell my clients what to do or should I try and find a course?

A: We should never recommend anything out of our expertise you will not be insured, no matter how much you know.  Seek out a course, get your qualifications first. You could also look at some training in stretching techniques to show your client to help maintain the good work you are doing with them.  You have not said what you are qualified in but if it is Reflexology remember that you can always show them some hand points to work themselves.

Q: I am fairly new to the remedial massage business but would like to specialise in a particular sport, motor  cycle racing. Please could you give some tips on how to go about entering the field, what to consider, pitfalls etc? I have checked my insurance,  and I’m covered to work within my qualifications (DARM). Where can I go to investigate rehab, injuries, etc?  Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

A: The British Motorcycle Racing Club, known as BMCRC or Bemsee, is a UK motorcycle racing club and they could be your first place to start. I would imagine that they could give you information on the most common injuries or issues that riders have within their sport. From your qualification it would seem that you are Scotland based so it may be that you seek out your local clubs and offer your services to become their therapist. Offer some free sessions and hopefully they will appreciate your skills and you can build up your regular paying clients. Once you have an understanding of the common issues then you can undertake research.

Q: I have been qualified for about 5 years now in massage, and although I enjoy what I do I am feeling a bit bored, how can I get the spark back that I had when I first qualified. I do want to stay in this field – I just feel a bit  bogged down I think.

A: I think this is a common feeling with some therapists after offering the same type of treatment for sometime. Take some time and really think about what you want to be doing with your therapies. Is it time to add to your skills? Have you considered adding another therapy to what you already offer, for example reflexology, aromatherapy, remedial massage, hot stones etc. (the list is endless)? Revisit your marketing – do you have a website? How do you get new clients? Look at doing talks to clubs. It may be useful to join your local therapist group or business networking group and get some support there. It can be a bit lonely working as a therapist and we do all need some support. Good luck for the future.

Q: I have a client that suffers with frequent headaches, usually caused by stress. I am a bit unsure of any home care advice to  give in respect to self-massage techniques. Do you have anything that I can advise them to do?

A: I always show my clients some trigger points that can help especially in the back of the neck. Also include the sternocleidomastoid and the temporalis the upper fibres of trapezius. There is a fantastic book by Clair Davies called The Trigger Point Workbook – ‘Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief’. However if your are not trained in trigger points then just recommend general self massage in these areas. A trigger point course is so worth doing for your own practice enhancing the treatments you offer to your clients.

Q: I have newly qualified in massage therapy and am just getting my stationary ready but don’t know what to call myself. What is the best title to use, therapeutic, holistic or just massage therapist?

A: There is no best, it is a matter of choice. Do some market research even if it is just with friends and try out a few titles.  We know what we do but some times the public’s, potential clients, don’t know what means what. Also think about the type of client you want to attract. Also consider that you do not want to be restricted in the future and have to change again once your skills develop.

Q: I am studying sports massage and have to do some event work, how can I find out what is happening and if they would like a therapist to attend. Any advice would be helpful.

A: I would hope that your college would be able to help, however. You could always contact local clubs, running, amateur athletic, tennis, squash etc. These often have inter club competitions and I would doubt that anyone will turn down free massages.  Where is your interest, martial arts, swimming, cricket, have a think and approach the clubs. There are many charity events taking place so contact local organisers and offer your time. I think once you start there will be no stopping you, good luck.

Q: A friend suggested that I contact you as I want to train in massage but how do I choose a massage course. It seems that there is so much variety in length of time, qualifications, requirements I just don’t know where to start.

A: It is very confusing out there. Look for a recognised school/college that are willing to talk you through their courses. Many schools offer taster days so you can attend and get a real feel for what they do. Make sure it is a good level qualification minimum of level 3 with a good foundation of anatomy and physiology. You could contact the examination board or organisation direct such as ITEC, VTCT, FHT, CNHC for further advice.

Q: What is the correct procedure with regard to using pre blended oils as a non aromatherapist?

A: Check your insurance I am not insured to use them, if you want to use essential oils then train as as an aromatherapist and learn the true beauty and benefits of this therapy, it is so much more than just using a scented oil.