Sports Massage Therapy

What Can Sports Massage Therapists Treat?

Dr. Carl Clarkson
Dr. Carl Clarkson October 19, 2022
Massage therapist treating a patient's upper back

Sports Massage Therapy is a treatment used to aid a patient’s healing targeting deeper layers of soft tissue and muscles around the affected area. There are a few different techniques used in Sports Massage Therapy that can be used on specific areas of the body and for specific results. In this blog, Breeze Academy details the conditions and Sports Massage Therapy treatments available.

So what can Sports Massage Therapists treat? Sports Massage Therapy can be used to treat musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. This treatment extends outside of sports-related injuries, so anyone that suffers an injury caused by physical exertion or musculoskeletal condition can benefit.

Read on to find out more about what Sports Massage Therapists can treat and the techniques available.

What Conditions and Injuries can Sports Therapy Treat?

Sports Therapy (sometimes called Athletic Therapy) is a treatment used to prevent injury or rehabilitate individuals after both sport-related and non sport-related injuries, allowing patients to return to their optimum level of fitness. Sports Massage Therapists are also experts in musculoskeletal conditions. This is not limited to athletes so anyone who suffers an injury caused by physical exertion or a musculoskeletal condition can receive treatment from a Sports Massage Therapist. 

Conditions and injuries that can be treated with Sports Therapy include:  

  • Pain in the patient's shoulders, back, knees or neck 
  • Injuries in muscles, ligaments or tendons
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow 
  • Runner’s knee
  • Rehabilitation after or before surgery
  • Medial Tibial Border Syndrome (MTBS)
  • Sciatica (check out our article on whether sports massage can help sciatica)

This is not a definitive list, so if you suffer an injury you should contact your healthcare professional who may refer you to a Sports Massage Therapist if they believe it is the best course of action.

How Do Sports Massage Therapists Treat These Conditions and Injuries? 

Sports Massage Therapy uses a wide range of deep massage techniques to relieve muscular tension, mobilise soft tissues and reduce pain caused by injury. Here are the most common techniques:

Effleurage

The effleurage technique is applied with light pressure onto the relevant body parts using fingers and flat hands to begin the Sports Massage treatment. Using long strokes, effleurage encourages blood circulation towards the heart and increases the temperature of the soft tissues. This technique is used in a number of situations such as to relax patients and reduce everyday stress by relaxing the body and releasing positive hormones.

Post injury, effleurage stimulates the lymphatic flow, helping with the bodies’ immune system and drainage of waste products. This in turn drains away any swelling caused by injuries and aids the immune system in fighting against infections. The common body parts treated with the effleurage technique include arms, back and legs.  

Kneading

The kneading technique reduces tension and tightness in areas affected by an injury by applying alternate pressures. Similar to effleurage, the friction on the patient’s skin causes an increase in temperature and blood circulation. Due to the pressure applied on the muscle fibres, kneading helps to increase the flexibility of muscles and prevent further injuries from occurring. 

Wringing

Wringing is a massage technique which manipulates the tissues by lifting and moving them from one side to the other. This helps to stimulate the skin and improve waste products elimination. Check out our article on whether sports massage releases toxins and makes you sick. In the event of an injury or soreness after sports, wringing can remove toxins including lactic acid. This technique is applied to shoulders, arms, back and legs on patients. 

Hacking

In the hacking technique, both of the Massage Therapists hands are used to strike the patient’s body alternatively. While striking the patient, the Massage Therapist’s fingers remain relaxed This can be used on arms, back, buttocks and legs before a big sports event or workout improving blood circulation, sensation and low muscle tone. Having warm muscles before exercise or sports aids in preventing injuries. 

Trigger Pointing

Trigger pointing refers to the massaging technique that focuses on muscle knots, alleviating the pain using thumbs and tools to apply direct pressure. Muscle knots often occur post-surgery, over-exercising and injury. It also breaks down the soft tissues’ adhesion and scars to relax and improve their flexibility. Read our in depth blog for more information about trigger pointing.

What Training is Required to Become a Sports Massage Therapist?

Sports Massage Therapists are trained to a high level and can access, diagnose and treat injuries. In order to offer treatments for both sports-related and non sports-related injuries or musculoskeletal conditions, you must complete CPD hours. 

 To practise as a Sports Massage Therapist, you must complete at least a Level 3 qualification in Sports Massage Therapy. This should be enough if you are self employed, however most employers require a Level 4 qualification. Some professional bodies and organisations will not allow Massage Therapists to join until they have completed the Level 4 qualification. There are no prerequisites to completing the Level 3 qualification, even if you have no previous experience in the healthcare industry. However, most course providers require a minimum age of 16 and you should have an interest in helping others, sports and working in the healthcare industry.

Depending on the provider, the length of the Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications can vary in length. Breeze Academy offers both Level 3 and Level 4 courses, as well as an accelerated course for beginners wishing to attain Level 4 qualification as fast as possible. Our courses consist of 2-3 days of face-to-face training combined with additional pre and post online learning. Check out our Sports Massage Therapy courses here. Or for more information on training to become a Sports Massage Therapist, check out our in depth blog

Final Thoughts

Sports Massage Therapy is used to treat both sports-related and non sports-related injuries and musculoskeletal conditions. As they are experts in their field, a Sports Massage Therapist will be able to determine the best course of treatment for the client’s problem. 

To practice as a Sports Massage Therapist, you must complete a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy course at minimum. This is ideal if you are self employed and wanting to provide more services or kickstart your healthcare career. You can open up more opportunities for yourself by also completing a Level 4 Sports Massage Therapy course as most employers and organisations expect this. Breeze Academy offers both levels along with a University Undergraduate Level 4 course that allows you to skip the Level 3 course provided you have already completed a first year of degree study.

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