The Person of the Month in this issue of JMS is an exceptional person. Despite that Oleg Bouimer is member of our Editorial Board as well as a frequent contributor to the Journal and my personal friend I am sure that the story of his professional life will be interesting to our readers. Oleg is an exceptional athlete, coach, practitioner of higher degree of expertise, teacher, author, fund raiser, etc. However, his uniqueness lies in his incredible ability to accomplish all these things at the same time.

Oleg has the exceptional talent of touch and he is equally outstanding while giving stress reduction massage, sports massage or helping patients in pain using MEDICAL MASSAGE PROTOCOLs. He has the rare teaching talent of making complex things simple and he successfully uses it while working with massage therapy students or with kids in PE programs in Los Angeles schools.

Dr. Ross Turchaninov

Here is our interview with



JMS: Please tell our readers, how did you get into massage therapy?

O. Bouimer: Being born and raised in the Ukraine, I’ve received the highest level of education as an athletic trainer and sports coach, while becoming very proficient in utilizing massage to enhance my athletes’ performance. 

I am sure that sports training and massage have to go hand-in-hand, in order to give a competitive edge to athletes. Fortunately, the government in the former USSR had adopted that logic very early. This is why massage therapy became mandatory in all Physical Education and Medical institutions since 1924. Essentially, you could not become an athletic trainer or a coach without learning how to use massage therapy. As a matter of fact, massage therapists were regarded so highly in the former USSR that they received a medal of achievement from the Government along with the athletes they worked with! Observing the incredible potential of massage therapy on myself and my friends athletes I started intense study of massage therapy and various techniques and styles.

Unfortunately, sports massage does not have similar recognition here in the U.S. This is why, after learning this shocking reality, I decided to concentrate on rehabilitation of my clients who were physically overloaded by personal trainers, as well as some yoga, Pilates instructors. Sounds crazy? Well, it is a reality, especially in places like L.A., where I live and work on my clients.

Inability of many fitness instructors to develop individual training protocol based on the age, physical level of readiness, elasticity of the soft tissues and so on of their clients in the combination with constant push from the media to “becoming a new and healthy you right now” created large number of people who suddenly found themselves in pain.

Instead of challenging other fitness trainers on how to train people properly, I have embraced massage therapy as optimal tool to balance health of people around me.

JMS: In the past you were a very successful athlete. How has sports massage affected your performance and your entire sports career?

O. Bouimer: Massage was an integral part of any sports training in the former USSR. As a three-time Ukraine champion in Army Pentathlon, I’ve had plenty of first-hand experience with sports massage. Certainly, it helped me both to train harder and to rehabilitate faster. Sports massage made a big difference by keeping my muscles ‘fresh’ and minimizing their soreness, especially during later years when my training routine consisted of three training sessions per day. We also performed self-massages to help ourselves when a massage therapist was not around.

Also, I remember going to a steam room or sauna every week, when my teammates would massage each other using soft birch branches. I am sure, if I would try that technique on my American clients, they would perceive it as torture.

I should also mention that, – when sports massage is performed incorrectly, it has a negative impact on athletic performance. For instance, one time when my massage practitioner got sick and new one was assigned to assist me before national competition he used prolonged application of shaking and percussions on my legs just before starting. I was barely able to finish that race, while helplessly watching other athletes easily passing me… I still remember a surprised look on their faces, since they all got used to seeing me running away from the pack from the very beginning. Thus, massage needs to be treated as a powerful tool and not a toy, especially when dealing with elite athletes!

JMS: You have a thriving massage practice. Please tell our readers about sports massage from a practitioners’ point of view. How did you optimize your skills and build up such a successful practice?

O. Bouimer: You need to position yourself based on your strength. So, if you love the idea of becoming known as a sports massage expert, you would start with building your knowledge and skills, first. Then, you gain confidence, which would come with experience.

You should to be totally confident in what you do, from the very beginning but you have to learn from an expert. This is a key point – who is your teacher? Unfortunately, there is so much confusion about what Sports Massage is. One of the most common descriptions I’ve heard was: “Sports massage is like Swedish massage, but done with a little faster pace.” At least this assumption explains how practitioners “magically” become sports massage therapists by simply showing up with their massage tables at race events.

Personally, I’ve made a mistake, once, by getting on a massage table after completing one of my 10 K races in the U.S. Obviously, at that time, I felt good about treating myself with a 10 minutes post-event application of massage, like in the good old times… However, I had got injured by the practitioner in the first several minutes before I jumped from the table. I could barely walk for a month! I had learned my lesson the hard way.

It should not take too long to build a successful practice for someone who would learn the “right stuff” from the beginning. The reality, in my opinion, is that while most of massage therapists discounting their services due to both bad economy and high competition in the massage industry, few others are increasing their fees based on the value of the treatment they able to offer. Such value comes only with the right set of skills and knowledge!

JMS: What is your opinion about the current state of sports massage education in the USA?

O. Bouimer: Unfortunately, it is very fragmented. There are some good schools offering decent sports massage programs, as well as some individual instructors offering short seminars on the topic.However, in general, it is far below the level it should be at, – based on the actual research studies done and protocols of sports massage developed over the last 60 years in different countries, including the U.S. That is why, from time to time, we have articles popping out in scientific journals which claim “no benefits of sports massage for athletes”. Personally, it makes me laugh. However, it is not a laughing matter!

Meanwhile, there is no professional organization in the U.S. that would rise to the occasion and stop that nonsense and propose some basic guidelines! Of course, I hope, it will change soon. Naturally, I am going to contribute to that process of change, too: through my seminars, DVDs, books, articles and public education.

JMS: What is your favorite type of bodywork?

O. Bouimer: Sports Massage is my favorite! Although, I do offer a wide variety of seminars and I do enjoy sharing my knowledge in different areas of massage therapy and bodywork, but my roots as a former professional athlete and a rehabilitation specialist are in Sports Massage.

JMS: What advice can you give to our readers?

O. Bouimer: DECIDE what you really want, first. Find the right source of information and LEARN the right stuff! Stick with it and ENJOY your success!

To contact Oleg or to review his seminar program and DVD please

Oleg Bouimer, LMT, graduated from State Institute of Physical Education in Ukraine in 1985. Currently he has an extensive private practice in Los Angeles. Among his clients are celebrities, famous politicians and sports stars. The NBA, NHL and NFL widely recognize Oleg and the system of Russian Sports Massage. He teaches nationwide and has founded a Medical and Sports Massage Club in Los Angeles. Oleg is author of many articles in American and European professional journals.

Category: Person of the Month