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The top 10 benefits of sports massage

The top 10 benefits of sports massage

About this post

Discover the top 10 benefits of sports massage in this detailed guide from Urban. We discuss blood flow, sleep, stress levels and much more.

Posted by

Emily from Urban


  • Massage
  • Sports massage

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Sports massage is one of the most popular types of massage, especially for those who are active. In fact, massage therapy can help ease the pain of DOMS by an impressive 30%, which might be why it is such a go-to for athletes and gym-goers.

But thanks to its range of benefits, it’s not just athletes that praise this particular type of massage – it can actually help almost anyone in one way or another. 

To find out how, this article will look at 10 benefits of sports massage, from improving range of motion to lactic acid management and much more.

Client receives sports massage assessment

What is a sports massage?

A sports massage is a massage treatment that focuses on improving circulation in the muscles. But it’s not just athletes that can benefit – a sports massage can be beneficial for everyone. This type of treatment is also particularly useful for someone with specific injuries.

What are the benefits of a sports massage?

If you have regular sports massages, you’re likely to experience the following 10 benefits:

  1. Better blood flow to your muscles

  2. Improved range of motion

  3. Removal of lactic acid build up

  4. Injury prevention

  5. Increased lymph flow

  6. An ease in muscle pain

  7. Lower stress levels

  8. Better sleep

  9. A better mental state for your next event

  10. Improved performance

1. Better muscle blood flow

The first benefit of sports massage is better blood flow through the muscles. 

Let’s explain – when muscles become tight from exercise and you’re not stretching them enough, your blood flow reduces. This can lead to long term injuries, something you definitely want to avoid.

Massage therapists will apply strong pressure during a sports massage to help loosen your muscles, so it’s easier for the blood to flow.

2. More range of motion

When your pro releases tight muscles during a sports massage, you’ll feel a lot looser – this is your range of motion. Improving your range of motion is one of the best benefits of a sports massage because it means you’ll be able to perform much better at your sport.

For example, if you’re a climber, unlocking a greater range of motion from sports massage can help you tackle tougher routes on the climbing wall.

3. Removes lactic acid build up

Sports massage is also great at getting rid of lactic acid build up. A sports massage therapist will work on the muscles to clear any lactic acid within them. This is why booking a sports massage following a big sporting event can be super beneficial.

4. Prevents injury

You might book a sports massage treatment because of an injury, but getting regular sports massages can be a great way to prevent injury in the long run.

Your massage therapist will be able to identify any imbalances you have that could lead to injury, too. They’ll also take into account the sport you play and how it could affect your chances of becoming injured.

5. Increased lymph flow

The lymphatic system acts as your body’s drainage system, collecting and filtering extra fluid and waste from your tissues. Massage helps the process by gently pushing fluid through the lymph vessels which helps with reducing swelling and supporting overall health.

If you’re not giving your body time to recover, your lymphatic system will suffer for it. But booking regular sports massages increases lymph flow so your lymphatic system can work more efficiently. You can expect your muscles to recover more quickly when your lymphatic system is in a healthy condition.

6. Eases muscle pain

Like most massage treatments, sports massage is a great way of easing any muscle pain you’re experiencing. It’s proven to ease delayed onset muscle soreness by as much as 30%, so if you have a big gym session coming up you might want to pre-book a treatment to help you recover.

7. Lower stress levels

Like with any massage treatment, you can enjoy lower stress levels by booking a sports massage. This happens because of a combination of things happening during the treatment:

  • Massage increases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine – your ‘happy hormones’ – as well as decreases the level of cortisol – the stress hormone– in your body

  • Improving injuries and reducing pain will help you feel better and get back to playing your favourite sport or method of exercise as quick as possible

8. Better sleep

Sleep is the main building block of a decent recovery programme, but tight muscles and muscle pain can make a good night's sleep near impossible. An easy way to improve sleep quality? Address the tightness, aches and pains with a massage.

9. A better mental state for your next event

The psychological benefits of having a massage before a sports event are worth learning more about, and it’s definitely something we recommend trying.

After a pre-event sports massage, your brain will subconsciously acknowledge that you’re in a better physical state, which in turn puts you in a better mental state.

With many sports, the mental side of the game can be more important than the physical side, which is why sports massage can be so valuable.

10. Improved performance

If you’re consistently carrying niggling injuries or feeling “tight” day-to-day, how will you be able to compete at your highest level? Sports massage helps you unlock the best version of your sporting self, making sure that your muscles and mobility are in a great place.

Who should have a sports massage?

You might be wondering whether a sports massage is for you. Well, simply put, a sports massage can be suitable for most people, with the following groups potentially having more of an interest in the treatment - professional athletes, semi-professional athletes and sports enthusiasts.

Professional athletes

If you’re a professional athlete, it’s likely you’ve turned to a sports massage once or twice to help your muscles recover. If not, then it’s a great way to avoid injury and continue playing your sport at a high level.

That’s because your life as a professional athlete involves performing your sport daily, making you much more prone to injury. It’s like a professional tennis player being most at risk of developing tennis elbow because of the repetitive nature of the sport.

But including a sports massage in your recovery regime makes it easier to pre-empt issues before they become career-ending.

Semi-professional athletes

As a semi-professional athlete, your hours might not rack up as high as professionals but you’ll still benefit from regular sports massage therapy. This is because you’re still at risk of developing sports-related injuries through repetitive movements.

In most instances, semi-professional athletes are being paid to play their sport, and they’ll want to make sure that they’re able to play to the best of their ability so they can earn more money.

Sports enthusiasts

If you're someone who plays sports for fun, you might find you need a sports massage for a couple of reasons:

  • Since you aren’t playing your sport every day, your body might not be fully adapted to the sports you play, making you more susceptible to injury

  • Regardless of your level and or how athletic you are, anyone can get injured during a sports class, training session or gym visit

When should you get a sports massage?

So when should you have a sports massage? There are three main frequencies you can take when it comes to booking a sports massage – pre-sporting event, post-sporting event and as part of a routine.

Pre-sporting event

If you’ve been training for a sports event such as a marathon, a sports massage can be a great addition to your prep. By having a sports massage before your event, you can make sure that you’re in both a good physical and mental condition, giving yourself the best opportunity to perform well on the day.

Post-sporting event

Another great time to consider booking a sports massage is after your sporting event. Massage can be a worthwhile addition to your recovery programme, because of the benefits we spoke about earlier on.

For best results, we recommend seeing a sports massage therapist two–48 hours after your event has finished.

As part of a routine

The best way of using sports massage is by making it part of your routine. Complimenting your chosen physical activity with massage is the golden formula for pain-free movement and impressive performance.

Indulging in sports massage several times a month will get you the best results, if that’s what you’re looking to achieve.

Frequently asked questions

What happens to your body after a sports massage?

It’s completely normal to feel slightly tired and sore after a sports massage. This is your body’s natural response to the waste products created by soft tissues during the treatment. A sports massage flushes various toxins from the body in an effort to improve lymphatic and blood circulation, which is what causes the tiredness.

Why is the body tired after a massage?

You may experience the equivalent of mild delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following a massage. This is because of the intense pressure a massage therapist uses to release and loosen muscles.

The good news is that these DOMS won’t last long, and you should be back to normal 24–48 hours after the massage.

What is the goal of a sports massage?

The main goal of a sports massage is to prevent injury. By working with a sports massage therapist you’ll be able to improve muscle imbalances, reduce any muscular tension, have access to a greater range of motion and more. All of these great benefits allow you to be injury-free for a greater length of time.

Should I get a sports massage or deep tissue massage?

If you’re experiencing any discomfort following a particular sport or exercise, we recommend booking a sports massage. If your pain is more general, and harder to pinpoint, a deep tissue massage is probably the best option for you.

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