Sports Massage vs. Deep Tissue: Which is Right For You

Massage therapy uses touch and manipulates soft body tissue in order to relieve pain, relax the mind and body as well as prevent the occurrence of injuries. There are various kinds of massages, each of them providing different benefits. But two of the most popular kinds of massage are sports massage and deep tissue massage. While the two kinds of massages are not so different, deciding which is right for you depends a lot on the type of lifestyle you have, as well as your health needs.

Deep tissue massage – what is it?

Deep tissue massages are a type of massage used to relieve musculoskeletal pains and problems. Deep tissue massage therapists will use sustained pressure and deep, slow massage strokes to get to the deeper layers of connective tissue and muscles.

Unlike other types of massages that focus on helping you relax, a deep tissue massage is also applied to relieve muscle stiffness and pain. This is the reason that this type of massage is usually recommended for people experiencing fatigue, muscle soreness or pain.

This type of massage improves blood flow which in turn relaxes tense muscles and eases trigger points that are the cause of painful muscle knots. This also makes deep tissue massages ideal for recovery or rehabilitation from any form of physical strain, or stress from workouts.

Sports massage – what is it?

Sports massages on the other hand are a more focused method to treating both chronic and minor pains. A sports massage therapist will often utilize various techniques to relax and realign muscles in individuals who experience muscle tension caused by sports. Sports massages are also done to correct posture and “warm up” an athlete’s body to help improve physical performance.

The kind of massage that will be used depends on the physical injury or what a person specifically needs. Often, sports massages will combine whole body, soft tissue and deep tissue massages, as well as physiotherapy methods to aid in physical recovery and injury rehabilitation. Sports massages are usually prescribed for athletes and non-athletes who regularly do strenuous physical activities and are susceptible to sports-related pains.

Sports massage and deep tissue – the key differences

While the two types of massages are similar in their function on relieving muscle tension and pain, the main difference is that sports massage is primarily done for athletes. While a lot of people can benefit from regular deep tissue massages for different types of muscular issues, sports massages are done specifically for recovery or healing or preventing a sports-related injury.

A sports massage therapist is trained to help treat physical injuries sustained by professional athletes like: shin splints or hamstring strains. A deep tissue massage therapist on the other hand determines and rehabilitates parts of your body for any muscle weakness. This means they are not specifically rehabilitating sports-related injuries. For these types of injuries, deep tissue massages are more recommended especially for issues such as neck and back strains.

When should you go for a deep tissue or sports massage?

If you’re not certain whether to go for a sports massage or a deep tissue massage, this can hopefully help you out. Usually, deep tissue massages can be used to relieve muscle tension, lower stress and muscle knots, and improve circulation. Deep tissue massages are usually done on the whole body, instead of targeting a specific muscle area.

Sports massages focus on certain body areas that need pain relief or rehabilitation. Sports massages are better suited for people who are physically active or professional athletes.  People that play let’s say –  tennis or regularly do any type of sport that requires repeated movements often find sports massages help relieve pain in the joints and muscles. It also helps to remove swelling. Sports massages are also done on athletes to prepare their body before events or competitions and help speed up recovery.

Devices like the Hydragun massage gun provide the combined benefits of deep tissue and sports massage. The great thing about it is you can do the massage anytime, anywhere. These devices are also pretty intuitive and portable, making them popular among athletes that need to travel often for events or training.

Both sports and deep tissue massages use the same massage strokes, which includes tapping, circular strokes and kneading to provide muscle tension and pain relief. Some people may also need to undergo a sports massage if they have injuries caused by repetitive movements.

People that choose to get deep tissue massages on the other hand often need a more general relief from psychological stress and muscle pain. They don’t need to be athletes or play sports, or even suffer from any type of injury to get this kind of massage therapy.

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