What is Sports Massage? & why YOU should book one today!

Updated: Oct 20


If you ever had a sport massage yourself, I think you'll agree with me when I say that there is nothing better than a Sports Massage! But why is it that so little athletes and even non-athletes make use of this service? I personally think that it's because people still don't know what it is, how it works and how it benefits your body!  I've noticed that when I start talking about Sports Massages people immediately tension up and make big eyes...Why?? Have you had a bad experience? Did someone talk you out of it? Have you even had one before?  I think it is time to clear the confusion! Before we even consider the benefits of sports massages, it is important to understand that it's not ONLY for professional athletes or injured people. Anyone, including YOU, can benefit from sports massages whether you are a sports person, workaholic, stay at home mom or a weekly jogger! Sports massages have a history of thousands of years. According to Cenacle Treatment Centre, it is said to have originated in Rome and Greece. Even the "doctors" or medical practitioners in those times prescribed massages to gladiators as part as their routines and treatment before and after exercise. How astonishing is this? I just once again realized how amazing the human body is. Even way back then, they could already visibly notice the impact of massage therapy and how it influenced their performance. And thinking about it, Gladiators were professional athletes but in those days the human body had to withstand a lot of impact and hard labor. So, one can probably safely make the assumption, that the massage therapy didn't only help their athletic performance, but actually also helped them to perform everyday activities without suffering from extreme muscle fatigue and injuries. Looking back at the modern history of Sports Massages, Paavo Nurmi from Finland is a perfect example. He won five gold medals in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games . According to Crist Chiropractic & Wellness, Paavo repeatedly gave credit in public, to his personal massage therapist who prescribed sports massages as part of his training program. It was round about that time, that sports massages became more popular, well-known and generally used practice among athletes all around the world. America even went so far to launch a National Sports Massage Team for their athletes to improve their performance. Now, I'm not sure what you would say. But a country probably won't go to such an extent for a mere luxury for their athletes. Which means their athletes' performance must have improved notably for for them to go to such a extent like launching a national sports massage team!

Nowadays sports massages are a specialty under massage therapists, some even share their secrets / tips. In my experience, I still think that the general public still do not understand exactly what it is, how it works and who it is for. Thus an ad here or there is good if you are offering sports massages. But unless we can get the general public to understand and grasp the above, that advertising will not go very far. Let's take a little dive deeper! & have a look at the different techniques that are used in sports massages:

  • Effleurage: This is a most commonly used technique used by massage therapists. With this technique, the therapist uses light strokes towards the direction of the heart, pressing with the palm of the hand to enhance blood flow and to warm up the muscles.

  • Friction: Also known as the cross friction or cross fibre massage technique. This technique is used to penetrate deep muscle tissue. It promotes collagen healing and production by increasing circulation and reducing collagen cross-linking. Thus treating the formation of adhesion and scar tissue actually mostly forms part of injury rehabilitation.

  • Petrissage: This technique is characterized by kneading, pick up & squeeze and wringing movements with applied pressure. The applied pressure is deep and compresses the underlying muscles. It's often done with the palmar (palm) surface of the hand, the fingers and/or thumbs. It is a great technique for muscle recovery.

  • Vibration: The vibration technique is making use of swift movements to soothe and relax the muscles.

  • Tapotement: With this technique, the therapist makes use of fast rhythmic movements such as hacking or cupping. And it increases and improves stimulation. This type of massages is ideal for pre-event sports massages.

Sports massage therapists use a combination of the techniques as described above. Depending on the specific client's needs and their physical condition - the therapist will make an assessment on which techniques will best suit the client's needs and achieve the desired outcome.


I personally love to incorporate a bit of PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching at the end of my massages. Since the muscles are loosened and relaxed after the massage, by incorporating PNF stretches - you can boost your client's flexibility and mobility. It is especially beneficial for athletes who so easily forget to stretch!


So why, why, whyyy? haven't you booked your sports massage yet? You only have one body and it it your responsibility to take care of it! Going for regular sports massages should not be seen as a luxury or a treat or something to merely spoil yourself with. It should be something you invest in, because you know that the benefits stretches way beyond the relaxation spoils! It is not about treating yourself every now and again. In an ideal world, if you are someone who lives an active lifestyle - you should go for a weekly sports massages. You should go for sports massages before and after races that you participate in. It's not a occasional indulgence, it should be incorporated to your normal lifestyle routines.


A lack of sports massages might be one of the main reasons why so many people end up with "over-training" injuries. Recovering from your training sessions are just as important as your actual training sessions. For optimal results, both of the above should obtain equal priority.


So now you know that sports massages are good for you. But what to expect from a sports massage?

Firstly, it is important to find a qualified sports massage therapist. Many people these days offer sport massage services but are not properly qualified. And to say the very least, that might be part of the reason why people still to this day underestimate the benefit of these type of massages.

Some therapists work from studios, where you travel to the studio to get your massage. And some therapists travel to their clients. What an convenient option, don't you think?

  1. So now.... First off, you need to book an appointment.

  2. Secondly, the therapist will contact you and ask you to complete a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire). The PAR-Q is used to provide the therapist with information regarding your lifestyle and also indicate if you have any skin allergies. This is important when it comes to the massage oils that the therapist will use.

  3. Thirdly, your therapist will have a quick chat with you. This is done to identify any problem areas, telling you what to expect from the massage and tell you how you might feel afterwards.

  4. The atmosphere will then be adjusted according to the type of sport massage that will be performed, ie: Pre-event or recovery, etc. Things such as faster music will be used for pre-event massages and slower music will be used for recovery massage session.

  5. The session can take between 20 and 60 minutes.

The benefits of sports massages can be divided into 3 different benefit categories:

1. Physical (The body) 2. Physiological ( How the body functions) 3. Psychological (A person's mental / emotional state)  Sports massage can affect how much pain you feel; it affects how you move; it affects how you think and it can affect how happy you feel. And like I previously mentioned everyone can benefit from a sports massage, because everyone would like to feel better, move better and be more positive. Sports massages: • Stimulates the release of endorphins (feel-good hormone); • Decrease muscle tension; • Scar tissue improvement; • Increase joint range of motion (ROM); • Decreased neurological excitability (nerves are more relaxed); • Improves sleep; • Improves flexibility; • Helps recovery by improving blood circulation and removing waste products (lactic acid); • Decreased chances of injury; • Improves recovery time between workouts; • Decrease tension headaches.

Where to find a sports massage therapist?

You might find someone at your local gym or spa who provides Sports Massages as part of their daily jobs. Or some people do it part time - like me!

Qualifications and past experience is well worth looking into.


To make a Sports Massage booking: Contact me (Ranelda) on 072 858 4896!

Check out my current specials for July!


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