What is sports massage and do you need one?

People often aren’t exactly sure what the difference is between sports massage and the various other types of massage. Although there is a lot of crossover with all types of massage, there are some basic differences. This post goes through what you can expect from the most common types massage and, in particular, what sports massage is.

Holistic/Swedish massage

Sports massage therapist Chelmsford

This is the type of massage usually offered at beauty salons and spas. It is intended to be a relaxing treatment and follows a set pattern of strokes. Usually the therapist performs all the massage strokes with her hands and the pressure is moderate.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage is what it says – it works deeper into the muscles to break down areas of persistent tension. It focuses on particular areas and requires firmer pressure than Swedish massage. The therapist will often use her forearm and elbow as well as her hands to apply pressure. Depending on the style of therapist and what the client feels comfortable with, the pressure can range from feeling a little uncomfortable to quite painful.

Hot stones massage

Stone therapy

Hot stone massage is carried out with basalt stones, heated in hot water. The therapist holds the stones in the palms of her hands as she carries out the massage. The heat of the stones increases blood supply and helps muscles to relax.  Read more about hot stones massage.

Lymphatic drainage

Although this type of massage is widely available, its main benefit would be to those suffering from lymph fluid build up (lymphedema). This isn’t a common problem, most of us have normally functioning lymphatic systems. Lymphatic draining is a gentle form of massage that aims to encourage the lymph fluid away from areas where it has built up.

Sports massage


Sports massage is basically deep tissue massage. The difference is that sports massage therapy qualifications include learning about biomechanics, posture and gait issues and sports injuries. Sports massage often focuses on a particular area of pain or injury. A sports massage therapist may suggest exercises to help rehabilitate or correct the problem. Depending on the issue, she may also carry out a posture and/or flexibility assessment. Sports massage therapists often have a background in sports or exercise, either as an instructor/coach or a participant.

Which type of massage should you have?

For relaxation and enjoyment – Swedish or hot stones massage

If you get back & shoulder tension, general aches and pains, tension headaches – deep tissue massage

If you have specific issues that you want treated (whether you participate in sports or not) – sports massage

To help with problems of lymph fluid build up – lymphatic drainage

Book a sports massage

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