Sports massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better for runners and walkers (2023)

Sports massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better for runners and walkers (1)

For runners and hikers, aRegular massage has many benefitsand the power to soothe tense and aching muscles, as well as provide mental health benefits such as relaxation and a sense of revitalization.

Joanne Kelly, Director of Soft Tissue TherapyPure sports medicine(opens in a new tab), says: “Whether you're training for a 5K or an ultramarathon, massage will always be a significant investment. The benefits of massage are cumulative. A regular treatment plan needs to be established from the start of your training to achieve maximum performance.

There are different types of massages for athletes, and it can sometimes be confusing deciding what to order and which massage therapist to go to. For example, a distinction is made between a massage that is purely aimed at relaxation and a massage that aims to overcome injuries.

If you are a runner or hiker in particular, you may hear the terms sports massage and deep tissue massage being both common. But what is the difference between a sports massage and a deep tissue massage and a sports massage?

Juana(opens in a new tab)says: "There are different techniques in massage, and for people who are fairly active, 'sport' and 'deep tissue' are commonly used.

“It often describes the type of pressure used, but it also depends on which muscles and body regions are being worked.

“It also depends on when you get your treatment. For example, if you get a massage before an activity or event, other pressures and techniques will be used instead of being treated afterwards.”

Sports massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better for runners and walkers (2)

Benefits of massage for runners and hikers

It is a common belief that massage is beneficial for athletes. For example,This studio(opens in a new tab)evaluated a lot of research and concluded that massage can support DOMS recovery and improve flexibility.

Joanne adds, "With any activity, massage benefits include increased circulation, improved range of motion, promoting the removal of waste products, reducing pain and muscle tension, reduced stress levels, and improved sleep."

A deep tissue massage is best for relieving general aches and pains, while a sports massage is intended to treat more specific injuries or repetitive sprains or strains in specific areas of soft tissue and muscles.

Sports massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better for runners and walkers (3)

(Video) Relaxing SPORTS MASSAGE Therapy for Athletes, Runners & Walkers

Sports massage vs. deep tissue massage: the similarities

Many of the techniques used in both a sports massage and a deep tissue massage are the same. Both therapies involve techniques such as slow, deep movements, massage, and circular movements that aim to reduce muscle tension in the body.

Sports and deep-tissue massages are also more intense than massages like Swedish or hot stone massage, which have a more general goal of relaxation.

Although there are similarities between sports massage and deep tissue massage, there are also some important differences.

Sports massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better for runners and walkers (4)

What is a sports massage?

A sports massage is a therapy aimed at preventing injuries and also aiding in recovery times. This type of massage can be used before and after a workout, race or challenge, as well as to treat walks orongoing injuries. If it's about to happen, you need to notify the therapist so they can treat you appropriately.

Typically, a massage therapist focuses on manipulating soft connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles, to relieve tension and reduce the risk of injury while running and walking.

You can request a massage therapist to treat a specific sports-related issue, such as: B. tense calves or hamstrings or muscle tears. The aim is to relieve pain and promote the healing process.

A sports massage will likely focus on a specific area for treatment, such as B. the legs or the back, which is determined by the runner or hiker.

What is a deep tissue massage?

A massage therapist focuses on treating muscle tension by removing knots and relieving tension in the connective tissue that surrounds joints and muscles. A therapist will try to work deeper than the surface to relieve problem areas.

A full-body, deep-tissue massage uses firm, sustained pressure to target the deeper layers of muscle. The goal of the deep tissue technique is to stimulate blood flow to the connective tissue to relieve tension in tense muscles.

Runners and hikers can opt for a deep-tissue massage because it covers the whole body and not just a specific area. It's a way to release general tension throughout the body. After a deep tissue massage, you should feel more relaxed and have an overall feeling of release from tension.

Sports massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better for runners and walkers (5)

Sports Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage: Which Should I Choose?

Many massage therapists can offer both sports massage and deep tissue massage, and as a client you can request the one that best suits your needs. A session may include both techniques.

Joanne says, “In summary, deep tissue massage is used for general aches and pains, while sports massage is more appropriate for problem areas or injuries.

“You should discuss which type of massage is most suitable with your therapist before each treatment.

"Post-treatment care is also important, such as drinking enough water and bathing will help reduce pain in the treated areas."

In summary, a massage is a good idea for both runners and hikers, especially to prevent injuries and aid in your athletic recovery. You can discuss with a therapist the best form of treatment that suits your exercise schedule, activity level, and pain level.

(Video) Best Massage techniques for the Achilles, Calf & Peroneal Muscles

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Fiona Russell is a widely read adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. Based in Scotland, she is an outdoor enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, hill walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both alpine and mountaineering. His goal for 2021 is to finish the last nine peaks in his first lap of the 282 Munros, Scotland's mountains over 3,000ft. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest goal is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, particularly through her writing. You rarely see her without a jogging skort! Learn more atFiona outdoors(opens in a new tab).

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What type of massage is best for runners? ›

Swedish Massage Therapy

It is characterized by the use of massage oil and the application of long, flowing strokes along the body using light to medium pressure. Best for runners who are looking for general stress reduction and improved circulation after a tough training week.

Should I get a deep tissue massage or a sports massage? ›

In summary, a deep tissue massage is the best option for relief from general pain and tension; whereas a sports massage will suit anyone looking for the treatment of injuries or repetitive sprains or strains that have built up over time in specific soft tissue and muscle areas.

Are deep tissue massages good for runners? ›

Most critically, deep tissue massages improve blood flow to your muscles by stimulating the circulatory system. You'll get an influx of oxygen-rich blood, which helps flush out the byproducts of hard exercise, and delivers fresh nutrients.

Are sports massages good for runners? ›

Sports Massage- How it can help your running

Sports massage improves circulation, allowing the recovery process to potentially shorten. Sports massage also helps improve muscle flexibility by stretching muscle and fascia, that will improve muscle length and joint range of motion.

Does deep tissue massage help runners knee? ›

Massage helps in the same way that stretching does by loosening the muscles around the knee, but it also pulls the tendons and muscles into a better alignment which often lessens the duration of recovery needed. Common types of massage for runner's knee includes: Deep tissue massage.

How often should a runner get a massage? ›

The frequency of which you get massage depends on how often and hard you train for running. However, getting a weekly, or at least monthly, massage can help any runner prevent injuries. Massage will help keep your muscles loose, which is one of the best ways to prevent the most common of running injuries.

Who should not get a deep tissue massage? ›

Anyone with osteoporosis or cancer that's spread to the bones should avoid deep tissue massage as the firm pressure used may cause a fracture. You should also hold off on deep tissue massages if you're pregnant. Gentler types of massage, such as Swedish massage, may be a better option.

When should you not get a sports massage? ›

Yes. Contraindications are conditions when you should not be massaged. The most common condition among athletes is that of an acute injury or inflammation. Usually, the first 72 hours after an injury is the acute stage.

How often should athletes get deep tissue massage? ›

If you are seeking treatment for an injury, it may be recommended that you initially come in 1-2 times per week and slowly space out your visits as you begin to feel better. For our professional athletes, we recommend 2-3 massages every week to keep feeling your best and an optimal level of athletic performance.

What kind of massage is good after a marathon? ›

Swedish massage, with its long pressured strokes, can relieve muscle tension and encourage increased blood flow. Trigger point therapy will help to target pain in the muscle tissue and muscle knots. Deep tissue massage targets layers of muscle with focused pressure.

What type of massage is best before a marathon? ›

Swedish massage can be best used days before your race (as part of tapering) or as a tool to aid recovery from a hard workout or run. The light, long strokes help relieve any muscle tension (perfect for the legs after a long run) without damaging muscles.

What are the disadvantages of sport massage? ›

  • Painful on most occasions.
  • Not very relaxing.
  • Often for treating very localised areas.
  • May involve varying body positions.
  • May require longer consultation time.
Sep 6, 2019

How do I know if I need a sports massage? ›

We recommend having a sports massage once a week if you exercise multiple times a week. Types of regular exercise may include going to the gym, your favorite spinning class, or going for a 5km run. You can have a sports massage before or after the event.

What is the best recovery for runners knee? ›

To help relieve your pain and speed recovery, you can:
  • Rest your knee. ...
  • Ice your knee to ease pain and swelling. ...
  • Wrap your knee. ...
  • Elevate your leg on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
  • Take NSAIDs, if needed, like ibuprofen or naproxen. ...
  • Do stretching and strengthening exercises, especially for your quadriceps muscles.
Dec 15, 2021

What is best for runners with knee pain? ›

Treatment includes not running until the pain goes away. Also using cold packs, compression, and elevation may help. Medicine such as ibuprofen can lessen pain and reduce inflammation. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help prevent runner's knee.

Why massage is important for runners? ›

Massage works to elongate the muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore joint range of motion, and improve circulation. In a nutshell, massage improves the effectiveness of the circulatory system. This system is responsible for oxygen transfer, nutrient delivery, and waste removal at the cellular level.

How long should a sports massage last? ›

Massages typically last 30 to 60 minutes for sports massages. Massage before a game is done just before a sportsman competes. This mainly consists of rapid inspection to relax and heat the muscles and tongue so that the muscles fluidly shift and muscle pressures are through.

How long should you rest after a deep tissue massage? ›

Get a good night's rest. While you're sleeping, your muscles are able to recover from the stress of the massage and efficiently utilize the nutrients that are being provided by the increased blood flow. Aim for a minimum of 6 hours.

What you should not do after massage? ›

What Not to Do After a Massage Therapy?
  1. Not Drinking Enough Water. After massage therapy, decreasing your water intake after the massage therapy is not ideal. ...
  2. Take A Shower Immediately. ...
  3. Taking Hot Shower. ...
  4. Eating A Large Meal. ...
  5. Drinking Coffee. ...
  6. Drinking Alcohol. ...
  7. Doing Strenuous Exercise or Activities. ...
  8. Stressing Yourself Out.

What body parts should not be massaged? ›

These are areas of the body where deep, sustained pressure should be avoided because of the structures that lie beneath. Those areas are the anterior and posterior triangles of the neck, suprasternal notch, sternum, axilla, spinal column, umbilical area, inguinal triangle, popliteal fossa, and the antecubital fossa.

What not to say to your massage therapist? ›

What NOT to Say / Do with Your Massage Therapist
  • Ask your massage therapist to go see a movie / come to your house / etc. ...
  • Excessive noises. ...
  • Comment on our looks/attractiveness. ...
  • Poke your head out of the room to let us know you're ready. ...
  • Start undressing while we are still in the room. ...
  • Touch us.
Jul 3, 2020

What is inappropriate during a massage? ›

A massage therapist should never touch the genital area of the client. This is either sexual abuse or prostitution. In most parts of the U.S., massage of the breast is off limits. In the few states where it is legal, there must be written consent by the client.

What are 5 contraindications to a sports massage? ›

Contraindications to sports and remedial massage include but are not limited to:
  • Acute soft tissue inflammation. Massage causes further damage to the tissue.
  • Open wounds. ...
  • Fractures and dislocations. ...
  • Myositis ossificans. ...
  • DVT (deep vein thrombosis) ...
  • Varicose veins. ...
  • Infectious skin disease. ...
  • Melanoma and other cancers.

Should I get a sports massage in the morning or evening? ›

It's always better to get your massage after you have exercised. If you tend to get sleepy from a massage, you should have it as late in the day as possible so that you can just go home afterwards. If you don't want massage to take time out of your day, you can get one early in the morning.

What not to do before a sports massage? ›

Make sure you don't drink too much as this can also cause problems during your massage. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before your massage as these beverages will dehydrate you. Also, avoid eating a heavy meal right before your massage. A light snack an hour or two beforehand is fine.

How long before a race should you get a deep tissue massage? ›

So When Is The Best Time For A Pre-Race Massage? Go for a deep tissue massage five to six days before your event if you body is used to getting regular massages (or even as minimal as 2).

How long do the benefits of deep tissue massage last? ›

On average, the benefits of massage can last up to a month or as little as 1 day. On average, most people notice the benefits for about a week. This is one of the reasons it's recommended that you get a massage on a regular basis.

How many times a month should you get a deep tissue massage? ›

A deep tissue massage uses slow, forceful strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. This type of massage targets muscle damage from injuries. You may seek deep tissue massages daily, a few times a week, or a few times a month for pain.

Should you run before or after a massage? ›

After a massage, it is important to wait at least 24 hours before doing any strenuous exercise. Strenuous exercise includes running, weight lifting, high-intensity aerobics, power yoga and more.

What do runners put their feet in? ›

Starting blocks are a device used in the sport of track and field by sprint athletes to brace their feet against at the start of a race so they do not slip as they stride forward at the sound of the starter's pistol.

How long should you rest after a sports massage? ›

It is normally best to wait about 24 hours after a massage. There are many explanations why this is happening. This is due to something known as muscle recovery, which is well-known as the time the muscles heal themselves after a workout in the bodybuilding industry.

What is the best activity after massage? ›

Immediately following your treatment, it is a good idea to go for a walk, preferably without a bag or carrying anything, to help improve movement and flow in the body and keep the muscles from tightening. If walking seems like too much work post massage, doing some gentle stretching is another good option.

Should I put Vaseline on my feet before a marathon? ›

By applying a generous amount of Vaseline to any problem areas of the foot (or other part of the body), you will reduce the friction and therefore reduce your risk of developing blisters. Be aware the Vaseline can be liable to stain clothing, especially running clothing.

Should I get a sports massage before a race? ›

DON'T have a sports massage less than 3 days before a big race. If you have never had a Sport Massage before aim to have one at least a week before. Massage is great for stiff shoulders and lower back, tightness in glutes and hips and niggles in calves & thighs.

Should I get a deep tissue massage before a marathon? ›

THE BOTTOM LINE: Go for a deep tissue massage five to six days before your event if you're used to getting regular massages. If you get one any closer to your race, make it a light, relaxing Swedish massage with a therapist experienced in treating athletes.

What is the risk of sports massage? ›

Muscle Ruptures and Tears

Muscle ruptures may still be bleeding in the acute stages, and sports massage has the potential to increase this bleeding, incur soft tissue damage, and prolong recovery.

What type of sports massage is best? ›

Deep tissue massage is excellent for more intense sports injuries since they target the deeper layers of tissue and muscle, not just the superficial layers. Swedish massages are beneficial for everyone, regardless of whether you're an athlete or not.

What is the aftermath of a sports massage? ›

Your muscles may be a little sore afterwards, especially the first time as they may not be used to being massaged. Sports Massage can release toxins stored in your muscles into your bloodstream, and it is not uncommon for clients who do not drink plenty of water to feel a slight headache or very thirsty later that day.

How do you know if a massage is good? ›

A “good” massage is one that loosens tight or tangled muscles and offers relief to painful and stiff areas in the body.

What are the three types of sports massage? ›

Sports Massage Definition

Students or professionals who have attended or currently attend sports massage school typically learn three basic forms of massaging: pre-event massage, post-event massage, and maintenance massage.

What to do before a sports massage? ›

How to Prepare for Your Sports Massage in 5 Steps
  1. When you get a sports massage, make sure you stay hydrated. ...
  2. Make sure to wear proper clothing. ...
  3. If you have back issues or any other medical concerns, let the therapist know ahead of time.
  4. Check to see if your sports massage therapist is qualified and licensed.

Is cupping therapy good for runners? ›

Cupping can likely help with recovery by reducing soreness and post work out tightness. By promoting improved blood flow, it allows for improved nutrient delivery which can improve recovery times. This may allow for more intense or frequent training sessions or prepare you for multiple events with little rest.

What kind of massage should I do before a marathon? ›

THE BOTTOM LINE: Go for a deep tissue massage five to six days before your event if you're used to getting regular massages. If you get one any closer to your race, make it a light, relaxing Swedish massage with a therapist experienced in treating athletes.

What type of massage should I get after running a marathon? ›

Swedish massage, with its long pressured strokes, can relieve muscle tension and encourage increased blood flow. Trigger point therapy will help to target pain in the muscle tissue and muscle knots.

Is deep tissue massage good before a race? ›

If you do insist on getting a massage the day before a race, make sure it is a light massage just to make those muscles supple. So When Is The Best Time For A Pre-Race Massage? Go for a deep tissue massage five to six days before your event if you body is used to getting regular massages (or even as minimal as 2).

When should you get a sports massage? ›

We recommend having a sports massage once a week if you exercise multiple times a week. Types of regular exercise may include going to the gym, your favorite spinning class, or going for a 5km run. You can have a sports massage before or after the event.

Should runners go to physical therapy? ›

“Physical therapy not only helps to fix problems and help people get back to running sooner and safer, but it can correct issues that help reduce the risk of re-injury and improve performance, so runners can continue to run longer in life,” says Welch.

Who should avoid cupping therapy? ›

It is not recommended for people with liver, kidney or heart failure or those with a pacemaker. As well, it can't be used if you have hemophilia, anemia or similar blood disorders, heart disease or are on blood thinners. “If pregnant, it has been advised to avoid cupping to the abdomen and lower back,” Ebinger said.

Why do athletes like cupping? ›

The fact that cupping can help stimulate the chemical breakdown of any toxins within the body, means that athletes who need their muscles and tissues to heal quickly can expect this to happen when undergoing cupping therapy.

Where do you put Vaseline before a marathon? ›

Time to dig out the vaseline.

No, seriously – be sure to put vaseline, under your armpits, over your nipples and between your thighs to prevent the dreaded chafe, around your ankles to stop blisters and even between your toes and over your toenails (if you want to keep them)!

Where do you lube before a marathon? ›

Thighs: Apply lube between the thighs to help reduce skin friction. If you run in the same type of shorts and notice the same pattern of rubbing, switch out your running apparel and see if that helps to clear up trouble spots. Armpits: Apply lube along the sides of your armpits.


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6. Kinetric Wellness, Licensed Massage Therapist, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Stretching, Asbury Park
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