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What Is Sports Massage?

When you hear the word “massage“, you likely imagine a spa-like atmosphere where your massage therapist puts on relaxing music, lights up scented candles and gently rubs aromatic oils all over your body. While some types of massages can certainly be like this, that is not the case with sports massages. 

Intense, strenuous and at times even uncomfortable, sports massage is designed to help athletes before, during and after training. Therapeutic sports massage is beneficial not only to athletes but to anyone who exercises to increase flexibility, prevent injuries or speed up the recovery after an injury.

What Does A Sports Massage Involve?

It is important for your sports massage specialist to asses your athletic condition and identify if you have any injuries or medical conditions. The techniques they choose to use will very much depend on your needs and type of injury. 

Sports massage borrows several techniques from physiotherapy and osteopathy but some of the main forms of physio sports massage include: 

  • Soft tissue massage - involves stretching the muscles and improving blood circulation to reduce muscle tension, alleviate pain and improve flexibility.
  • Deep tissue sports massage - repetitive use of the muscles leads to muscle fibre damage and accumulation of toxins. Deep tissue massage targets this inflammation in the deeper layers of the muscles to reduce tension and promote healing.
  • Full body sports massage - relaxing full body massage such as Swedish massage can be used to calm the body and mind and assist with recovery.

You may need to move around often during the session and feel some level of discomfort. Make sure you communicate with your therapist promptly so they can adjust the pressure to your body’s response.

Find The Best Sports Massage Therapist Near You

When To Have A Sports Massage?

Sports massage aims to help athletes before, during and after training with four main types of treatment:

  • Pre-event sports massage - a pre-event sports massage is a short, targeted treatment before a sports event to prepare the body for the competition ahead. This massage aims to improve performance by increasing blood flow, flexibility and mental focus. It is performed at a brisk pace - not too deep - to get your muscles and joints ready and prevent injury.
  • Post-event sports massage - a post-event sports massage is a slow, rhythmical massage after an event to help the body recover quickly. The goal of this massage is to facilitate a quick return to training without the usual muscle soreness. Post-event sports massage also allows your therapist to identify any injuries or medical conditions early on.
  • Maintenance sports massage - maintenance sports massage takes place in between training sessions to release tension built up in the muscles during exercise and strenuous activities. It can last from 30 minutes to an hour and can be added regularly to a training schedule to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance.
  • Injury treatment - sports massage is also used to treat soft tissue injuries and accelerate recovery time.
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What Are The Health Benefits Of Sports Massages?

Considering how similar they can be to physiotherapy, it is not surprising that treatments at a sports massage clinic offer an array of benefits: 

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved blood and lymph flow
  • Pain relief
  • DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) prevention
  • Fast recovery
  • Reduced stress and anxiety

What Is The Difference Between A Deep Tissue Massage And A Sports Massage?

Although they share some similarities, there are some key differences between traditional deep tissue massage and sports massage.

Sports massage therapy is used specifically to prevent or heal sports-related injuries in athletes. Before they can asses and treat injuries, sports massage therapists need to go through rigorous training and acquire knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics.

On the other hand, deep tissue massage therapists can treat a wide range of muscular issues but they do not have the necessary knowledge to treat sport-related injuries.

Both sports and deep tissue massage are used to relieve muscle pain and tension. However, deep tissue massage is often performed as a full-body massage without focusing on any specific area of the body.

Professional sport massage, on the other hand, is a more targeted form of massage that aims to recover or rehabilitate a specific body area.

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How Painful Is A Sports Massage?

Deep sports massage involves applying continuous pressure on the muscles in order to treat them. The more tight and tense your muscles are, the more discomfort you will feel during treatment as they won’t be as easy to stretch or manipulate. 

A good sports massage is similar to a good workout for your body as it stimulates muscles in a way you may not usually do. Therefore it is common you feel sore for a day or two after. It is your body’s physical response to the inflammation as it heals. 

However, sports massage should never be an intensely painful experience.

If you ever feel unbearable pain during your massage, let your therapist know immediately and stop the treatment. 

Find The Best Sports Massage Nearby

Sports massage therapists must undergo rigorous training, have extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology and receive the proper accreditation. Therefore, you should only schedule your sports massage with licensed therapists with the necessary qualifications. 

Select your city below to find local sports massage therapists and eliminate pain from your life!