If you’d like to hear about our latest courses and events, please subscribe to our occasional newsletter:

Train in Sports massage ITEC Level 4 with Accredited Massage Courses

Over time sports massage has evolved from the needs of the athlete to also include the needs of the general public.  At first sports massage was deep tissue work coupled with some remedial techniques.  Over the years sports massage has come to mean remedial massage applied in both sporting and non-sporting contexts.  Sport & remedial work has evolved to encompass a variety of remedial techniques for a wide range of soft tissue conditions which are not exclusively related to sport but may be experienced by any individual.

The sports massage therapist deals with the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of the soft tissues of the body. Regular sports massage treatment has a plethora of benefits.  Sports massage is invaluable for anyone who participates in sports at whatever level.  It certainly is not only for professional athletes.  However, a good sports massage therapist is invaluable for any active person both to prevent injuries and to help with rehabilitation when injuries do occur.

A sports massage therapist has in-depth knowledge of the musculo-skeletal system of the body and will work with the origin, insertion and the role of muscles as well as addressing any dysfunction the patient presents with.


Earning a living as a sports massage therapist

Working as a sports massage therapist can be lucrative.  You rarely have patients/clients who come to see you just for the one session.  They will frequently be in need of continuous treatment during the course of regular sports training or, alternatively, due to chronic conditions which need long-term treatment.  Sports massage therapists tend to work in the same way as osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc, as they work to achieve specific results to manage or cure the conditions.  Unlike many other massage therapists, the sports massage therapist has to know when the patient/client should return and has to be confident about advising the client.

Working as a sports massage therapist can give you a more secure income.  Unlike the holistic massage therapist, a sports massage therapist is not as reliant on the whim of the client, but instead may have his/her diary booked up a week or two in advance depending on their skills, experience and reputation.

Many clients come through recommendation from other clients.  As a sports massage therapist you can make an immediate difference to people’s lives with a thorough and well executed massage.  It never ceases to amaze me when patients/clients come into my clinic, hardly able to walk or stand straight up, and then after a sports massage they walk out of the treatment room as if they never had a problem.  This doesn’t happen every time, but these immediate results will make your clients talk about you and recommend you to others who need corrective work.

It is important for the sports massage therapist to keep on learning, developing and acquiring new skills.  The more you learn and the better you get at applying new techniques the more your patients/clients will benefit from your work.

Depending on the experience of the sports massage therapist, many different techniques will be applied to reduce muscle tension and improving muscle function.  Sports massage therapist use the same techniques as osteopaths. The big difference is that the sports massage therapists does not use a technique which osteopathy is perhaps most famous for, high velocity/low-amplitude thrust better known as “cracking”.  When cracking occurs with the sports massage therapists it is because it happens in an unforced manner.

To prevent bones from grinding against one another in your spine, the bones are attached by membranes which form sacks that contain synovial fluid.  This synovial fluid contains carbon dioxide bubbles. When a crack occurs the carbon dioxide bubbles pop, dispersing back into the fluid, giving the resultant ‘pop’ sound.  This effect will relieve a lot of pressure in the joint and can restores movement to the joint.


Techniques commonly used by the sports massage therapists:

A deep tissue technique that is used to break down adhesions, realign tissue and to build strong connective fibres by applying specific and controlled movement in a small area. 

Joint mobilisation or Articulation
Joint mobilisation is a type of passive movement of a skeletal joint. It is usually aimed at a 'target' synovial joint with the aim of achieving a therapeutic effect.

Neuromuscular Technique (NMT)
Is the application of ischemic pressure, which involves pushing a point on the body hard enough to stimulate the nervous system and increase circulation to the area. Associated with this are trigger points which are specific points where the nerve impulses to these muscle fibres will not "shut off" and require intervention to deactivate them. 

Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
Effectively it restores flexibility by stretching incrementally and usually used on larger muscles.  It is used to treat somatic dysfunction presenting as loss of range of motion secondary to muscular inhibition. There are several techniques which may be called muscle energy techniques including reciprocal inhibition, and post-isometric relaxation.

Palpation and identification of tender points in tissues in order to assist with the diagnosis
of any problems.

Proprioceptive NeuroMuscular Facilitation (PNF)
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation: is a type of flexibility exercise which combines muscle contraction and relaxation with passive and partner-assisted stretching. The technique has received considerable attention recently, since it is thought to improve range of motion in the skeletal joints to a greater extent than conventional static stretching.

Soft Tissue Release (STR)
Soft Tissue Technique is a method of applying pressure to a specific area on a muscle at the same time the muscle is being stretched. This coordinated movement has a correcting effect on all muscular imbalances, which might include injured areas where scar tissue has formed.

Strain and Counter Strain
Strain and counter strain is a holistic approach for treating problematic tender points in the body. It is an indirect technique. It moves joints and their muscles away from restrictions to a comfortable position instead of moving non functional joints directly into motion restrictions.  The therapist starts the treatment with a palpation of body scan for tender points. The tender points indicates joint or muscle dysfunctions. The therapist uses these tender points to monitor the position of comfort. The client is held at this position for 90 seconds and then gradually returned to a neutral position. Strain-counter strain deals particularly with the relief of pain. Strain and counter strain can be used in almost any condition and on patients of any age.


Advanced Techniques, acquired with further training

Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Manual lymphatic drainage is a precise and gentle massage that increases the flow of lymphatic fluid in order to assist the body in cleansing the connective tissue of inflammatory materials and toxins, enhances the activity of the immune system, reduces pain, and lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.

Myofascial Release
It is commonly used to treat the restricted fascia associated with skin, subcutaneous tissue, and other superficial structures that are limited in their mobility. It involves the application of sustained pressure and movement to treat soft-tissue restriction.

Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are areas of muscle fibres within a muscle, which the brain has decided need to be contracted - switched 'on' and shortened. They occur through accidents, falls, injuries, repetitive strain, overuse of muscles and poor posture. Trigger points cause a shortening of the muscle and refer pain to other areas of the body. 'Active' trigger points refer pain constantly, 'latent' trigger points can be triggered by seemingly innocuous movements or posture and become 'active'. Active trigger points are often surrounded by other secondary trigger points which develop when the sufferer has tried to either strengthen or stretch the area to get rid of the pain or restriction. Attempts to strengthen or stretch will be unsuccessful until the trigger point and the surrounding fascia, are released.

Uncommonly used techniques, depending on the sports massage therapists training and interests:

Electro Therapy such as Ultra Sound
Therapeutic ultrasound as a treatment modality that has been used by therapists over the last 50 years to treat soft tissue injuries. Ultrasonic waves (sound waves of a high frequency) are produced by means of mechanical vibration of the metal treatment head of the ultrasound machine. This treatment head is then moved over the surface of the skin in the region of the injury. When sound waves come into contact with air it causes a dissipation of the waves, and so a special ultrasound gel is placed on the skin to ensure maximal contact between the treatment head and the surface of the skin.

Acupuncture literally means 'needle piercing," the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific anatomic points in the body (called acupoints or acupuncture points) for therapeutic and remedial purposes. Along with the usual method of puncturing the skin with the fine needles, the practitioners of acupuncture also use heat, pressure, friction, suction, or impulses of electromagnetic energy to stimulate the points. The acupoints (acupuncture points) are stimulated to balance the movement of energy (qi) in the body to restore health. The combination of sports massage techniques and acupuncture have helped many people.

Fascial-ligamentous Release
An indirect myofascial release method of treatment where the dysfunction is adjusted until a neutral position is achieved in all planes, then an activating force (often compression or torsion) is applied to facilitate a release of joint restriction and tissue tension.
Visceral Manipulation
Visceral manipulation is myofascial release around the viscera, the organs. With these exceedingly gentle techniques scar tissue and adhesions can be released, and organs given the space to move and function comfortably.
The benefits of sports massage:
Regular session with a sports massage is of great benefit to the athlete.
Sports massage improves training
- sports massage increases blood flow through the tissues can improve the recovery
process allowing the athlete to train more effectively and safely
- sports massage assists the removal of waste products and helps supply the
tissues with essential nutrients to aid recovery
- sports massage increases the understanding of the deep tissues, which means advice can
be given on specific stretching, training and equipment to help improve performance.


- imbalances and damage in deep tissues can be detected earlier and potentially corrected before an injury develops.

- through deep tissue massage, an athlete can learn to monitor their own condition and adjust their training accordingly.

- pre-event sports massage can stimulate circulation, calm nervous tension and help prepare the athlete for optimal performance.
Please bear in mind that all the above is also applicable to those leading a more sedentary life as sports massage in remedial, is preventative and/or can cure common injuries like back pain, shoulder and neck pain the office employee to often suffers from.


View all messages in this articles' section


ITEC Massage Diploma Level 3; ITEC Sports Massage Level 3 Certificate ; ITEC Sports Massage Level 4 Certificate; Balinese Massage; Crystal Healing Practitioners Diploma; Cupping and Moxibustion Diploma; Deep Tissue Massage Diploma; Eden Energy Medicine 101 & 102; Honey Massage Diploma; Hopi Ear Candle Therapy Diploma; Hot Crystal Massage Diploma; Hot Stone Massage Diploma; Indian Head Massage Diploma; Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage Diploma; Manual Lymphatic Drainage Diploma; Manual Lymphatic Drainage for Osteopaths; Medical Massage Diploma; Myofascial Release Massage Diploma; Natural Facelift Massage Diploma; Pregnancy Massage Diploma; Sound Healing or Himalayan Singing Bowl Therapy; Sports Massage Techniques Diploma; Thai Acupressure and Hot Herbal Compress Diploma; Thai Yoga Sports Massage; Thai Yoga Couch Massage Diploma; Trigger Point Massage Diploma;