What is the Difference Between Sports and Deep Tissue Massage?

Two common types of massage that have some similarities are sports and deep tissue massage. Understanding the difference between these two massage types can help you decide the best option for you.

Deep Tissue vs. Sports Massage

Although physical techniques are similar, sports massage is aimed towards athletes. The focus of the intervention is to accelerate recovery time, decrease physical demand on the body and improve performance. Sports massage is often directed at helping prevent injury or healing a sports-related injury.
Sports massage therapists should be well-versed in terms of treating muscular woes and common athletic injuries, such as shin splints or hamstring strains. Sports massage therapists can identify and locate areas in which you experience muscle soreness/tightness and or determine abnormalities that could potentially cause injury if let untreated.
While a deep tissue massage can locate areas of muscle weakness, the therapist might not be targeting sports-related injuries. However, deep tissue can be used to treat some injuries, including back strain or whiplash.

Strokes and Movements

One common area between sports massage and deep tissue massage is that each massage type uses similar strokes. This includes tapping, vibrations, circular movements and kneading. Sports massage utilises similar methods to manipulate the skin, yet tends to be more sports-focused.

Massage Goals

Sports massage is dedicated to boosting flexibility, handling injuries/potential injuries and improving overall performance. An athlete may have more reasons for receive a deep tissue massage.
This includes:

  • Bodily toxins
  • Stress relief
  • Increasing blood circulation
  • Reducing tension
  • Reducing physical pain

Whether you’re undergoing a deep tissue or sports massage, you should discuss your overall treatment aim with your physician.

Types of Clients

Sports is typically aimed at serious athletes, including those who train most days of the week for professional sport. These clients might utilise massage as part of pre or post-game warmups to reduce the chances of muscle cramping.
Deep tissue massage hosts a more varied client list, including business people and students. These clients do not have to participate in a certain sporting activity or be injured to receive a deep tissue massage.

Massage Precautions

Regardless of the style of massage, there are certain situations where massage might not be the right intervention.
Although sports massage is aimed at injury relief, a muscle rupture or complete tendon tear will require surgery as opposed to massage. In the first few days after injury, muscle tissue can still bleed. Massage brings blood flow to the affected area, which can cause more bleeding and further issues. Muscular injuries can occasionally lead to a condition called myositis ossificans, where bone begins to grow into the relevant muscle. Massage will exacerbate the problem, possibly promoting further abnormal bone growth.
It is important you understand your needs when choosing between sports and deep tissue massage. Knowing your goals for either will ensure you receive optimal treatment and prevent the risk of further problems.