General CPD

What is the Difference Between Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage?

Dr. Carl Clarkson • December 15, 2021

As a Sports Massage Therapist, you might get asked what the difference is between a Sports Massage and a Deep Tissue Massage. Whilst they are similar, they do have a key difference that sets them apart, determining which massage a client should opt for. Make sure you know the difference with the help of Breeze Academy.

So, what is the difference between sports massage and deep tissue massage? A sports massage is usually focused on a specific area of the body to treat a specific concern, usually sports injuries, whereas a deep tissue massage is often administered across the whole body, or across large areas of the body to relieve muscular pain and tension.

Read on to learn more about the difference between sports massage and deep tissue massage.

Is Sports Massage the Same as Deep Tissue Massage?

Sports massage and deep tissue massage are, on the surface, fairly similar, and both are used for rehabilitative purposes, but they are two different interventions. The two therapies use similar techniques to achieve similar results, however, one is more focused on a specific isolated area, whilst the other is more general.

What is Sports Massage?

Sports massage is, typically, used to treat sports injuries or injuries that are located in an isolated part of the body. Often, such concerns are long-term as a result of over-training, trauma, muscle imbalance, or poor biomechanics.

Sports massage aims to aid recovery, reduce the risk of recurrence, or assist with performance ahead of an event.

Benefits of Sports Massage

Benefits of sports massage can be both mental and physical, and include:

  • Increased range of motion
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased sense of wellbeing
  • Decreases recovery time
  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Decreased muscle spasms
  • Better sleep

Sports Massage Techniques

Techniques used in sports massage include:

Swedish-style massage Effleurage Petrissage Compression Friction Tapotement Vibration Gliding Stretching Percussion Trigger points

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

A deep tissue massage is similar to a sports massage, but is less focused; deep tissue massages are usually performed across larger areas of the body, or as a full body massage.

Deep tissue massage is used for helping to relieve muscular tension, to reduce stress, to break down knots, for reducing the build of toxins, and for increasing blood flow to the muscles.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

The benefits of a deep tissue massage can be similar to those of sports massage, but they are less focused on athletic performance.

  • Stress relief
  • Reduces pain
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Breaks up scar tissue
  • Increases range of motion
  • Reduces the symptoms of arthritis
  • Rehabilitates injured muscles

Deep Tissue Massage Techniques

Techniques used in deep tissue massage include:

  • Cross fibre friction
  • Active release tension
  • Muscle energy technique
  • Trigger point
  • Myofascial release
  • Effleurage
  • Petrissage
  • Tapotement

Are Sports Massages Only for Athletes? Sports massage, despite the name, is not just for athletes. It can be used for any number of sport-related muscle injuries, no matter how often or how intense a client exercises, as well as non-sports-related injuries. The techniques used in sports massage can be hugely beneficial to non-sport-related muscle injuries that are isolated to a specific region. Although, deep tissue massage is also beneficial for such conditions.

When to Use Sports Massage or Deep Tissue Massage The key consideration when clients ask which massage therapy is most suitable for their condition is how isolated the injury is. Sports massage and deep tissue massage are fairly similar in terms of techniques and benefits, however, a sports massage should be used where injuries are isolated to a small area. Otherwise, a deep tissue massage may be more beneficial.

However, if a client is an athlete or reports that their injury is directly related to sports, it may be best to recommend a sports massage. Similarly, if they book a massage to prepare for a competition or event, a sports massage may be most appropriate.

Sports Massage Courses at Breeze Academy

Breeze Academy, one of the UK’s leading providers of CPD training, now offers Sports Massage training with Level 3 and Level 4 Sports Massage training courses available throughout the UK.

Upon successful completion of our Level 3 & 4 Sports Massage course, students will go from massage novice through to having the ability to effectively plan treatment, as well as providing and evaluating advanced massage techniques.

Check out our courses online now, or get in touch with us for more information.

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