MY PROFILE: Heather Smith
Professional qualifications and memberships
I completed my training with the London School of Sports Massage (LSSM) under the directorship of Mel Cash, and principal tutor Zac Laraman in North Wales. The LSSM is recognised nationally, as well as worldwide, for its quality of training which has developed over the past 20 years. It currently provides the highest nationally recognised qualification available to sports and remedial massage therapists: professional diploma BTEC level 5 in Soft Tissue Therapy.
The LSSM qualification allows me to be a member of the Institute of Sport & Remedial Massage (ISRM) which gives formal recognition and representation to therapists who employ a range of assessment and remedial techniques to effectively treat a variety of soft tissue conditions. As a member of the ISRM I update my skills annually through continuing professional development (CPD).
I am also registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) – the government-sponsored regulator for appropriately qualified and insured complementary healthcare practitioners. The Department of Health recommends that GPs and patients/public use the CNHC register to access practitioners. As a member of the CNHC I have met national occupational standards and abide by a rigorous code of conduct.
Before becoming a Sport & Remedial Soft Tissue therapist I worked in universities and the NHS, spending six years at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt (RJAH) Orthopaedic Hospital near Oswestry as a Clinical Trial Manager, setting up and running a multicentre knee surgery trial. This included working closely with patients, physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons, and provided a useful insight into knee injuries and rehabilitation following knee surgery. I was also involved as a co-investigator in designing, and gaining funding for further trials involving shoulder dislocation, wrist fractures, ankle surgery and orthotics.
My academic background is in psychology and research methods which helps me bring a methodical and scientific approach to my work as a therapist and an appreciation of the psychological factors involved in pain, posture and healing as well as the motivation to train and compete in sports.
Years of study and working in a demanding job mostly sitting at a computer took its toll on me personally and I suffered a lot of tension and pain in my back, neck and shoulders. I tried many things – different chairs, exercises, physiotherapy and the Alexander technique – all of which helped to a degree but it was still difficult to break the cycle of tension and pain. Having worked hard physically in my youth as a groom/rider I particularly missed a physically active job and it was my mother who suggested sports/remedial massage as a new career and helped encourage me, drawing on her own training and 40 years’ experience as a Physiotherapist.
I am continually learning and practicing new exercises in order to stay fit and prevent/recover from injuries (as I like to go running, rock climbing, walking, swimming and cycling) and often draw on this experience when treating and advising clients. My clients include people working or participating in a variety of occupations and activities, for example, office workers, tree surgeons, mothers with small children, teachers, musicians, drivers, nurses, horse riders, farriers, vets, climbers, cyclists, swimmers, runners, and walkers. Some of my most regular clients do a lot of physical training (e.g. cycling) and can recover more quickly and improve their performance by including massage into their training routine. I also treat people who are less active due to injury, or loss of function and mobility. An important part of my approach is to encourage clients to help themselves to feel more in control of their aches and pains and I provide home exercise programmes which include photos, videos and written descriptions for specific exercises many of which are simple enough to do throughout the day, even while at work.