Sports massage uses a variety of pressure (often deeper, more intense and focused than in conventional massage) to speed up an athlete's recovery time and help prevent injury.
However you don't have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage is also good for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion.
A sports massage is a good choice if you have a specific problem e.g a tender knee from running, it is also a good idea to see a physiotherapist, who can help you identify and correct what may be causing your injury in the first place.
The therapist generally focuses in on the problem area e.g a frozen shoulder or pulled hamstring rather than giving you a full-body massage.
The strokes used in sports massage are almost always directed towards the heart, a technique designed to increase blood and lymph flow. But you may find that your therapist sometimes massages you with shorter strokes in the opposite direction - this is designed to stretch your muscle fibres.
Your massage will begin with a variety of stroking movements ('effleurage') usually carried out with the whole palm of the hand and the fingers. This helps you become accustomed to your therapist's touch, warm your body's tissues and increase your blood flow. It will also help the therapist to identify any tender areas at the outset, so less pressure can be applied later on.
They will then use a technique called 'petrissage' - kneading designed to work on deeper tissues, to mobilise fluids, stretch muscle fibres and aid relaxation.
After this comes the 'frictions' technique - aimed at breaking down lesions and even scar tissue, and separating muscle fibres. Frictions might feel uncomfortable or even slightly painful, so don't be afraid to tell your therapist to go more gently on particular areas.
Sports massage is not designed to relax and pamper you, its purpose is to speed up your recovery time from exercise and help to prevent future injuries. However, sports massage can leave you feeling a little tired or sore, so plan to go easy on yourself for a while afterwards.
Massage can have a dehydrating effect on the body, but you can combat this by drinking plenty of water before and afterwards.
Duration: 30 minutes
Duration: 45 minutes
Duration: 60 minutes