Deep tissue massage vs sports massage – what’s the difference?
If working from home has your back and neck feeling stiff and achey, or you’ve pushed it too hard on those zoom workouts, you could benefit from a sports or deep tissue recovery massage.
Just like our bodies and lifestyles, the type of massage we require also needs to be personalised to what we need, but what is the difference between the two?
In this article we explore the main differences between a deep tissue and sports massage, to help you choose what’s right for you..
In order to understand the differences between these two massage types, you first need to know what each one involves. What is deep tissue massage then? Essentially, this is when firm pressure is applied to the body’s deeper tissues. When considering what is sports massage, this is also a type of deep tissue massage that uses many of the same strokes and movements, such as kneading and tapping. We also call it deep muscle recovery.
The key difference is that deep tissue massage tends to be given as part of a full body massage or focused on the upper or lower parts of the body, while a sports massage is usually more targeted, covering a much smaller area of the body. Although many of the techniques used are similar, there tends to be more stretching involved with sports massage and focus on the soft tissue. Sports massage therapists also generally have a greater knowledge of the human anatomy.
The treatment goal
When deciding what massage is best for you, think about what you want to get out of it. The goals of a deep tissue massage differ from those of a sports massage.
Deep tissue massage focuses on reducing muscle tension and knots, accumulation of toxins and improving blood flow to muscles. Whereas a sports massage is geared towards preventing a specific injury or healing an existing injury, which may or may not have been caused by a sports-related incident. A sports massage may also be given to improve range of motion and imbalances, which could aid physical performance. While tense knots are also manipulated during a sports massage, these tend to be older and bigger compared to those manipulated during a deep tissue massage.
What’s best for you – deep tissue or sports massage?
People who exercise a lot often think they need a sports massage. However, this isn’t necessarily correct. General muscle tension all over the body is best treated with a deep muscle recovery treatment. If you suffer from an injury in a specific part of your body, then you can benefit from the more targeted approach offered by sports massage therapy.
Deep tissue massage is beneficial for the majority of people. In particular, if you sit at a desk all day long and suffer from poor posture as well as pain and stiffness in the back and neck, a deep tissue massage can help tackle these multiple issues.
Because of the similarities, when considering a deep tissue massage vs sports massage, ultimately it’s wise to seek advice from a trained therapist to find out which is the right option for you.
- A sports massage targets soft tissue and focuses on a much smaller area of the body than a deep tissue massage.
- A sports massage is designed to treat minor and chronic injuries that may or may not have been caused by a sports-related injury – it is also called Remedial.
- There is typically more active and passive stretching with a sports massage. This helps realign and loosen muscle fibres.
- A sports massage can also be given to improve range of motion and imbalances, which could aid physical performance. Practitioners may also work on your posture.
- Sports massage therapists generally have a greater knowledge of the human anatomy and are able to release tightness in the muscles. As muscles around joints relax, range of motion can be improved.
- Tense knots can be worked on during a sports massage, but these tend to be older and bigger than the knots targeted by a deep tissue massage.
- People who exercise a lot tend to think they need a sports massage but this isn’t necessarily correct. General aches and tensions can be treated with a deep tissue, muscle recovery massage. If you have a specific injury, however, you could benefit from a more targeted approach.
Deep Tissue Massage
- Deep tissue massage is usually given as part of a full body massage and focuses on the upper or lower parts of the body.
- Firm pressure is applied to the body’s deeper tissues and involves a wide range of stroke and techniques including kneading and tapping.
- A deep tissue massage is designed to relieve muscle tension, reduce stress and break down knots. The techniques used encourage blood flow to the muscles which oxygenate them more efficiently and speed up recovery.
- Therapists can focus on specific areas in order to release knots and relax tight muscles. Knots are typically found in the upper back around the shoulder blades.
- With both massages it’s common to feel a little sore afterwards as knots are worked out of the body using pressure.
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