Everyone has heard of “sports massage”. It’s a term that’s been in use for over twenty years and is generally accepted to mean a deeper massage than you would get in a spa; in this context “deeper” means working into the deeper, non-superficial muscles, for example in the back or legs. It is often sports people who suffer with problems with these deeper muscles, so since a deeper massage should be good for sports people, we have the sports massage, although it can, and often is, be enjoyed by non-athletes.
Indeed, sports massage is sometimes also called deep tissue massage as well; so those non-athletic clients don’t feel excluded.
problems with sports massage
If you ask for a cup of tea, you can be pretty sure that a tea bag (or loose leaf tea if you’re being fancy) is likely to be involved somewhere along the way. Sadly, the same isn’t true for a sports massage. There is no set industry wide definition, and anyone with a massage couch and some lotion can set themselves up offering a sports massage.
This has led to different people having had very different sports massages by different clinics. We have seen horrendous bruises inflicted on some clients who have had a “sports massage” elsewhere, and other clients who tell us how they would come away from a sports massage in tears because it was so painful, but it must have worked because the next day it didn’t hurt nearly as much. Of course, we have also met one or two people who have had a good quality sports massage too!
So, a sports massage can be a deeper tissue massage aimed at sports people, or non sports people, and it can be tremendously painful, or it can be quite nice, and it can be pretty much offered by anyone since there’s no definition of it.
sports massage and soft tissue therapy
If you have an injury, the last thing you need is more pain. There is a very common misconception that is something is hurting, it must be working. This isn’t true at all. Slight discomfort is possible, but it should only ever be transitory and certainly shouldn’t be enough to bring one to tears or leave bruising! Hammering or poking and prodding repeatedly at damaged muscles really isn’t going to fix things, and any relief felt the next day is likely to actually simply be inflammation.
Do you Need a sPorts massage?
Perhaps we’re biased, and it’s entirely your choice, but we think if you’re injured what you need is someone to assess your injury, treat it and offer rehabilitation advice. Depending on your injury, you may just need simple massage techniques, or you may require advanced techniques involving passive and active movements of joints, techniques to stretch muscles that have become locked, or techniques that involve working with fascia.
This kind of treatment is called soft tissue therapy. It’s what we do at State 11. In fact, we hold the highest recognised qualification for soft tissue therapy, the BTEC Level 5 qualification which is equivalent to undergraduate work.
Maybe you actually need soft tissue therapy instead!
A soft tissue therapist is someone who can work independently to assess, treat and offer rehabilitation advice for people suffering a wide range of minor and chronic injuries caused by any lifestyle factor. As well as treating the injury they aim to identify the underlying causes and offer more long-term improvements in physical wellbeing.
We don’t like the term “sports massage” - we think it’s confusing (because there’s no definition), deters non-athletes who have got injured but don’t want to ask for a “sports massage”, and is too often related with shoddy and even dangerous techniques.
but state 11 Offer sports massage!
Yes, we use the term “sports massage” throughout our site. We even use it on our booking page, where we offer “soft tissue therapy / sports massage”.
The reason for this goes right back to the start of this article; people have heard of sports massage. Although soft tissue therapy is a much better treatment for most people, and is actually what people who come to see us decide to have after we’ve talked to them, simply not using the phrase “sports massage” would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. It’s the term people type in Google and Facebook, it’s what friends tell injured friends to have, and it’s a phrase people understand.
Perhaps what we offer is actually what people expect from a sports massage; assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation advice provided by a high trained therapist who knows what they’re talking about.
We look forward to helping you.