How To Choose A Massage Therapist

How do you choose where to get a massage? This blog will share some secrets to look out for from one of the best in San Diego.

Here to give you what you need to know is Kristen Knightly aka “KK”.

A practicing Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Massage Practitioner, KK understands more than your average massage therapist. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of what massage can do for you and what you should seek in a massage therapist.

So tell us a bit about your background and why you wanted to be a physical therapist and massage therapist?

I was a 3-sport athlete growing up with two older brothers which meant we spent most of our free time and not-so-free time playing sports and competing with each other. In high school, I suffered multiple knee injuries that kept me on the sideline. I struggled from the mental challenges of being injured since I identified myself as an athlete. Luckily, I met Dave Armet, who was not only my physical therapist, but also quickly became my mentor and helped me develop my passion for my future career. I can't say enough about Dave- I really owe my career to him. Knowing that I wanted to be a PT at 16 years-old allowed me the rare opportunity to apply to PT school at the same time that I applied to Northeastern University for undergrad.

After graduating with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, I moved to San Diego and started working for an outpatient clinic. A few years after I started, I had multiple patients asking me to do more massage work with them outside of their appointments. I had considered going to massage therapy school while in PT school, but couldn't find the time, so with the continual inquiries from patients, I decided I had to make the time. I started massage school in the evenings while working full-time as a PT and added massage clients on the weekends. I quickly reaped many benefits from the additional education and bodywork I was performing. I think this was the best career decision I have made so far. The two professions are incredibly complimentary to each other and has opened many doors for me professionally.

Looks like you worked with US women’s soccer. How was that experience and what did you enjoy the most?

I started working on the women's side of US National Soccer teams in 2012 with the U17 National Team for their World Cup in Azerbaijan thanks to my good friend, Dr. Alan Shahtaji's referral. Less than 6 months later, I was asked to work with our Full National Team and have been with them ever since. Funny enough, this position started because of my massage therapy experience, not my physical therapy degree, but my role with the team and federation evolved in many ways and I was able to use my various skill-sets. The most intense time with the team was during our build-up for Women's World Cup in 2015. I spent many months on the road away from my friends and family, but standing on the field and holding the World Cup after we won was beyond incredible! I learned so much working with the best female athletes in the world and my incredibly talented coworkers that we call "the team behind the team".

It's hard to say what I enjoyed the most, as there were so many unique opportunities that arose from this position- the travel, the relationships I built, how much I learned, how much I grew as a clinician, and the great success I was able to be a part of. Although I have cut back on my travel significantly due to my upcoming wedding, I feel very fortunate to have the relationship with the US Soccer Federation to get back into the grind when the time is right for me and my family.

Team at Catalyst Physical Therapy

Team at Catalyst Physical Therapy

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What makes Catalyst Massage Therapy unique? Why do people love our treatment philosophy?

Catalyst Massage Therapy is unique because of the full-clinic approach we have to our care. Our team of massage therapists, physical therapists, acupuncturists and personal trainers work together to develop treatment programs and are constantly discussing patient/client needs to deliver the best, individualized care plans. I, personally get treated by our massage therapists once a month. Not only does this help me receive the bodywork I need, but it allows us time to learn from one another, share new techniques and challenge our growth. Certain therapists have what I call "the touch" or "good hands". This is an imperative part of delivering good bodywork. All of our therapists have a unique, natural gift of touch that they have developed greater in years of education followed by years of practical work. They are continuing to develop their skills by taking additional classes and working directly with our physical therapists. We deliver a clinical approach to our care with goals of making significant change during each massage session.

What can people expect from a treatment session with any Catalyst Massage Therapist?

You can expect your Catalyst Massage Therapist to listen intently to your history, current complaints, and goals. They will then deliver a customized session while checking in with you regularly. Your continual feedback is what helps our therapists make sure that they are helping you to the best of their abilities. We pride ourselves on respecting individual bodies and that each person may need a slightly different approach. At the end of your session, your therapist will discuss any findings they found during your session and offer advice for what you can do at home or what treatment plan will work best for you.

How can people get in touch with you? Any final thoughts to add to help the public?

Of course, I think bodywork is essential to live a healthy, well-balanced life. Since we think everyone should try massage therapy, we offer 25% off all new clients' first sessions. If you are yet to try a massage at our clinic, my best advice is to try it once! Let us take it from there. I love hearing from clients and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have! You can contact me directly at or leave a message for me at the clinic 619-501-2195