What’s the difference between deep tissue and sports massage?

When people think of massage, mostly they picture lying on a massage table and getting a back rub. Whilst that’s really relaxing, the massages here at Victory are a little more technical… This week, Victory’s soft tissue specialist Hayley discusses the different types of massage you might be offered, and some of the techniques involved. 

Deep tissue massage is usually a technique used within a spa or salon, and is generally what people first think of when they think about a massage. It can also be known as Swedish massage, as this is a popular technique taught to therapists. Firm pressure is applied in a slow and rhythmic movements and is usually a relaxing experience for the client. Other than a general health questionnaire, no pre-assessment is made and very basic aftercare is prescribed.

Even though you can request for the therapist to spend more time on a specific area of concern (i.e., a sore neck or a ‘knot’ in your shoulders), the therapist isn’t able to assess, treat and prescribe specific aftercare to help teats and resolve your concerns. There can also be some confusion that any form of deep, firm pressure will ‘fix’ tension and pain within a muscle. This definitely isn’t the case, and can sometimes make the problem and pain worse. This isn’t to say that deep tissue massage is bad for you – if you don’t have any injuries, just want to unwind, and have a great therapist then go for it! 

Sports massage is a more specific form of treatment. A sports massage therapist has higher qualifications and has spent many years studying the anatomy and physiology of the body. The therapist is qualified to assess, treat and prescribe aftercare to treat specific areas of concern helping to resolve the problem and prevent it from reoccurring again. It’s also not just for sports people! Sports massage can be used for a variety of issues, from muscle strains from lifting heavy items in the garden, a sore neck from sleeping in a poor position, muscle soreness after gym training, recovery after an operation – the list goes on.

Sports massage therapists have a wider range of techniques to use during the treatment that all target specific muscle tension and can integrate each technique to the individual’s needs. There is no standard ‘one style fits all’ massage routine used during treatment.

Sports massage therapists usually have a good link to other health care professionals such as physiotherapists or rehab therapists. Sports massage can sometimes be prescribed as part of ongoing treatment for an injury. And for clients who come to Victory “just” for a sports massage, our massage therapists are also able to refer onto one of our physios if they think that an injury requires more specialist treatment. Sports massage is a more medical approach to massage.

So, in short, deep tissue massage is great for helping you to relax, and sports massage is great at helping to treat and prevent specific pain, tension and injuries.

Think you could do with a massage? Call us on 0207 175 0150 or click the button below to book your session. 

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