For someone looking to book their first massage, it can sometimes be intimidating simply because there are so many different types of massage specialties to pick from. But this is not without reason because certain massage techniques are best suited for certain treatment needs.

Still, two of the most common types of massages that often get confused with each other are sports massage and deep tissue massage. In this post, you will learn the primary differences between the two techniques and when you should choose sports massage over a deep tissue massage.

How Sports Massage Differs From Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage is what is often called a “full-body” massage. The general purpose of this type of massage is to help relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, increase circulation, relieve knots, and alleviate muscle stiffness throughout the whole body. Deep tissue is not designed to focus on treating one or two problem areas.

A sports massage, on the other hand, is a targeted massage approach that focuses on one or more specific areas on the body that need relief and/or healing. It can be used to treat both minor and chronic injuries. This type of massage is called a “sports” massage because it is so commonly used to treat athletes suffering from sport-related tension, but it is also used to treat other individuals who engage in regular physical activities, such as those who work manual labor jobs.

When Should Sports Massage Be Chosen Over Other Massage Techniques?

It is important to note that you do not have to be a professional athlete to benefit from a sports massage. In fact, many non-athletes rely on this type of massage to help them deal with injuries acquired at their workplace, such as those caused by repetitive motions. Sports massage can be beneficial to anyone who leads an active life, but it is especially suited to help those looking to:

  • Warm-up or cool-down after strenuous activity
  • Minimize the risk of a sports-related injury
  • Reduce the pain associated with repetitive movements
  • Improve posture
  • Increase flexibility in a tight area
  • Recover faster after activity or injury

What Does a Sports Massage Involve?

When you book a sports massage session, your therapist will focus their work on the manipulation of soft connective tissue, such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the affected area. The aim of the massage is to reduce tension and decrease the chance of injury from sporting activities by improving flexibility, muscle tone, and circulation in the problem zone.

Sports massage therapists are highly experienced at treating a wide range of musculoskeletal problems, from common sports-related injuries, like strained hamstrings and torn ligaments, to relieving the pain and tension that can build up in areas of the body that have been overworked. To achieve the desired results, therapists can employ a variety of techniques to help reduce pain and encourage recovery, including:

  • Swedish-style massage techniques
  • Compression
  • Stroking (Effleurage)
  • Kneading (Petrissage)
  • Stretching
  • Percussion
  • Trigger Point massage
  • Gliding
  • Friction
  • Rhythmic striking (tapotement)

As with any massage, it is not uncommon for some of these techniques to cause some discomfort, but they should not cause any significant pain. If you experience pain that is more intense than what most consider “a good kind of hurt,” you should inform your therapist immediately, so the proper adjustments can be made.

What to Expect After a Sports Massage Session

Sports massage is safe and produces very few side effects. The most common side effects associated with this type of massage is possible tenderness or stiffness in the treated area for a day or two after a session. Some people with sensitive skin may also experience a mild reaction to any massage oils that are used. If you have sensitive skin and are worried about a skin reaction, you can talk to your therapist before your session begins, so an alternative solution can be applied.

Sports massage, like most other types of massage, produces results on a cumulative basis, which means with every session, the benefits are heightened. With ongoing treatments, most patients report feeling an increased sense of well-being thanks to the massage technique’s ability to alleviate pain and tension in a given area. Other benefits you can expect from ongoing sports massage sessions can include:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood
  • Increased range of motion and flexibility
  • Fewer muscle spasms
  • Increased blood flow
  • Shorter recovery time between workouts

Schedule Your Sports Massage Session Today

Most patients feel an immediate improvement in their affected area almost immediately after their first sports massage session, but results such as this may take longer for others. The reason is because every patient, and their treatment needs, are unique.

If you are looking for a safe and effective way to reduce muscle tension and pain in a specific part of your body, improve your range of motion and flexibility, increase your strength, or recover faster from an injury, then sports massage may be the solution you need.

To learn more about the sports massage treatments available at Birmingham Massage Couple or to schedule your next appointment, just give us a call today at 205-529-1516 or 205-381-1645, or book your sports massage session online.