Home / Blog

Does Sports Massage Have To Hurt To Help?

Sports massage is a form of massage which utilises specific techniques to help obtain maximum performance and physical conditioning with a reduced likelihood of injury or pain.

Many sporting and non-sporting people have regular sports massage due to the vast array of benefits it has for the human body. For the sporting population, sports massage aids with performance enhancement, injury prevention & injury rehabilitation. For the non-sporting population, sports massage is beneficial for reducing musculoskeletal injuries due to occupation / posture, such as lower back pain, or reducing muscle tightness in the upper back & neck due to long periods of time sat in an office chair.

What’s the difference between massage & sports massage?

Basically, the difference is that sports massage emphasises the treatment on obtaining maximum physical functioning over obtaining maximum relaxation, which is the primary aim in non-sports massage sessions.

So, does this mean sports massage isn’t relaxing?

Not at all! Many of our clients report how relaxing their sports massage sessions are! If the thought of a sports massage being painful is putting you off, you needn’t worry. If your previous sports massages have all been pain pain pain, with no relaxing element interspersed throughout, I’d say that the therapist woke up on the wrong side of bed that morning!

However, sports massage does entail a range of techniques, some of which can be uncomfortable (but not painful). For example, deep transverse frictions are a sports massage technique whereby frictions are applied along the transverse section of fibre orientation. Deep friction is applied for short intervals with light massage in between because they can be uncomfortable if applied for long periods of time without rest. Deep transverse frictions stimulate correct soft tissue alignment in healing tissues, it helps break down scar tissue and induces increases blood flow to the area. This technique is particularly beneficial for tendon issues such as tennis elbow. But.. as the name suggests, it’s not a technique whereby you will snooze off into relaxation paradise!

Another sports massage technique is called trigger point therapy. Trigger points refer to an irritable point in our skeletal muscle, the painful point can be felt as a nodule or band in the muscle. The potential causes of these trigger points are muscle overload, psychological distress via systemic inflammation or trauma, which causes increased stresses on muscles. The trigger point treatment technique is an uncomfortable technique as pressure needs to be applied to the trigger point up to an 8/10 reported level of pain at some points during the technique… painful! But, beneficial…

Predominantly, the main aims of sports massage are to increase blood flow, reduce muscle tension & tightness, increase joint range of movement & aid in muscular recovery and adaptation. For this, sports massage does not at all need to be painful, you will even be able to relax! But worth noting, if you are coming for sports massage for injury rehabilitation, obviously, the injured area is going to be tender to work into. All in all, here at Katie Bell Physiotherapy & Wellness our therapists are greatly experienced in tailoring a sports massage to the individual in front of us, so no matter your pain threshold you will leave feeling relaxed & rehabilitated!

While we’re on the topic of sports massage, did you know what else lurks within the depths of sports massage therapy?

Sports massage is hugely valued for pre-event preparation, as it prepares muscles for exercise, stimulates circulation, increasing oxygen and nutrient supply to the area, reduces muscle tension and enhances a state of focus and concentration. This type of sports massage focuses on circulation enhancement by utilising light fast techniques, with emphasis placed on the muscle groups that are going to be used in the event. Also, there is avoidance of all massage techniques that require recovery or are painful such as trigger point therapy & deep transverse frictions in pre event massage. If you’ve got an event such as a 10K, half marathon or any other sporting event planned, give pre-event sports massage a try! (It may give you the fighting edge to smash your previous PB)

Post event massage is done after you have completed an event or training session. The aims of this massage are to assist in the cool down process, relax tight muscle groups, stimulate circulation and reduce potential soreness. In post event massage, the technique is light massage techniques to stimulate recovery.

As you can see, sports massage offers a range of techniques for a range of different presentations from relaxation, injury rehabilitation, reduction of muscle tightness & postural pain. Our clients experience great results from their sessions in helping to stave off the aches & pains!

Head over to our sports massage page to browse the latest deals & offers we currently offer or phone our client care team on 0114 327 2080 for the first step in solving your aches & niggles.

Our award winning services will help you move better, feel better and live better. Contact us today!