Q&A with Clare Riddell
Tell us a bit of background about yourself… (Why and how did you get into the industry? What did you do before?)
I studied a sport Science degree at Loughborough University in 1994, then trained as a PE and Maths teacher. This taught me that i didn’t want to teach kids Maths! I have always had a keen interest in sport and competed to a high level in athletics, martial arts and rugby. I had never experienced massage before until a teaching colleague of mine offered free massage as part of their body massage case studies. This was a life changing moment and a profession i had never considered before. I immediately looked for a sports massage course and trained in 1998. Since then i have worked as a mobile therapist for many years until i opened my own clinic in Arnold, Nottingham and now have a client base of over 500. I have also used my teaching qualification to start my own training company and run a variety of full VTCT courses from L3 to L5 sports massage and over 25 1-day CPD courses.
Are there any challenges you have had to overcome as a therapist? How have you overcome these?
The biggest challenge to begin with was getting a strong client base that would pay my mortgage. Going self-employed for the first time took courage but also self-confidence. The biggest and best advertisement for your business is word-of-mouth and client reviews. This takes time but if every person tells one other person about their positive experience, your client base will grow quickly. Everyone knows someone with a bad back!
What interests you outside of work? (How do you normally spend your spare time?)
I am a keen runner and have completed many half marathons. There’s nothing better than an early morning run before the rest of the world are awake and enjoying the fresh air. Recently i have got my handicap in golf and enjoy playing socially. Being self-employed means i can be flexible with my own time and if i teach at the weekend, i make sure to take a weekday off to experience a cheaper and less busy golf course. I love going on holiday and have been exploring the UK more since lockdown, but am looking forward to worldwide travels again from next year.
What is your seminar about and what can viewers expect to come away with?
The seminar is on foot and ankle anatomy. It teaches how to palpate bony landmarks, tendons, ligaments and muscles and includes some special tests for dysfunction. It also shows how to identify if flat feet (pes planus) are structural or functional
What is it about your topic that appeals to you and why is it useful for therapists?
The foot is one of most important parts of the body as this is the link between the environment and the client. Many body issues are caused by poor foot biomechanics which can cause dysfunction through fascial lines. A previous client of mine had shoulder pain for months, but once he had his verrucae treated, his pain went away!
What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practice?
Never do the same treatment and become complacent. Every person that walks through your door is unique and you need to adapt your techniques, pressure, body areas and advice to suit. You need to keep up-to-date with new methods and research and keep learning. The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know!
What do you consider to be the most important traits for a therapist to have?
You need to listen to your client and ask questions to bring out the information they forget to tell you. It doesn’t matter how good your treatment is, they need to feel comfortable with you and at ease. Problem solving is such an important skill for a sports massage therapist. Combine your questioning, listening, communication and analytical skills to design the best treatment for your client – where the pain is, the problem isn’t!