Posted on September 17, 2015 by Jenny Cromack

The use of sports massage as a preparation or recovery tool for sport and exercise seems to be getting more and more popular. If we understand how it works we can understand what the benefits of sports massage are.

benefits of sports massage

What is Sports Massage?

Sports massage is a manual technique where a therapist will use their hands, digits, and usually elbows to manipulate, stretch, lift, compress, and friction soft tissues of the body. There are various methods within massage that are applied to the client. These are effleurage, petrissage, frictions, tissue release.


This is usually are method to start and finish massages but also provide transitions between body parts or between other methods. It involves a light stroking and rubbing of the muscles. It will help bring heat and circulation to the area, but is also said to have a relaxing feel to it (before the harder, less comfortable methods are applied).


This is a much deeper method of massage that helps manipulate the target tissues. This method can involved kneading, lifting or wringing the tissues. This method helps breakdown restricted tissue and lift ‘tacked-down’ tissues.


This method involves deeply rubbing across the direction of the tissue fibres. This helps breakdown scar tissue and ‘sticky’ fibres within the soft tissues allowing them to be realigned more functionally.

Soft Tissue Release:

The therapist will manual ‘pin’ down part of the soft tissue using their hands or elbows etc. by applying pressure down onto it, the limb being treated will then be moved through range placing the pinned down tissue onto stretch. This allows the tissue to be stretch from the pinned point. This is good for releasing a restricted or tight area of a tissue.

The Benefits of Massage


Many people receive sports massage as part of their injury rehabilitation to loosen off shortened and recovering tissue to allow them more range of movement and reduce their restricted movement. The effects of massage can help encourage the healing process and create an optimal state for the tissues to heal.

Injury Prevention:

Even if no injury has occurred sports massage can be beneficial for making sure tissues are of optimal length preventing tightness or reducing imbalances so injury doesn’t occur or compensatory patterns of movement are minimised.

Pre-, During, or Post-Event:

Massage before or during event helps prepare both mentally and physically. The light techniques used generate heat and increase blood flow helping you physiologically prepare for activity. It is also said to make people feel lighter and have a more free range of movement to carry out their activity more comfortably. After an event massage will help improve recovery by removing waste products such as lactic acid with the aim of restoring the body to its previous state. It will also ensure that muscles aren’t left in a tight and shortened state.

General Maintenance:

Some people like to have regular sports massage simply to keep their bodies ticking over and make sure that they are in an optimal state to carry out their daily lives pain and restriction free.

Effects of Sports Massage

Physiological Effects:

  • Increased Flexibility
  • Increased Circulation
    • Leading to Increased Nutrient and Oxygen Supply
    • Increased Lymphatic Drainage (Removal of Waste Products)
  • Optimises Flexibility and Tissue Length
  • Optimises Scar Tissue Formation and Fibre Alignment
  • Reduce Muscular Spasm and Tension
  • Diffuses and Reduces Swelling

Psychological Effects:

  • Helps with Mental Focus
  • Reduces Anxiety and Mental
  • Helps with Body and Muscular Awareness

Neurological Effects:

  • Increases Excitability and Activation of Tissues
  • Stimulates Connection between Central Nervous System and Muscles


Massage is not just sports athletes and sports people, the benefits of sports massage can apply to anyone looking to simply carry out their daily activities with minimal restrictions and maximum comfort. It can be used in various settings such as rehabilitation, pre-, during or post-event, or for general injury prevention and bodily maintenance. It has many physical, psychological, and neurological beneficial effects that make it an effective method to optimise function and recovery.

For sports massages in Leeds visit IC Sports Therapy