Sports Massage Vs Deep Tissue Massage

There are many different types of massages and picking the right one can be a confusing process. Among the different types are two very common ones; Swedish massage and Sports massage.

So what is the difference between the two of them (aside from the fact that one seems to originate from Sweden and the other is linked to physical exercise)?

Should I get a Swedish Massage or a Sports Massage?

Are you tired from work and want a relaxing massage? Are you an athlete who is as stiff as a rod? Or do you just want to treat your mum at the spa?

Do you have any of the the following conditions?

  • Stress and tension
  • Muscle soreness
  • Stiffness and tenderness
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Tired (but not injured) muscles
  • Postural problems

If your answer is yes for any of the above, an appropriate massage could help alleviate these conditions. But which one? Let’s find out.

Swedish Massage


What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is the traditional or Western type of massage. It is most likely what people think of when it comes to massage. It was contributed greatly by Henrick Per Ling, a physiologist, fencing, and gymnastics master who founded the Swedish system.

It involves soft tissue manipulation using techniques such as effleurage, petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussions) and frictions.
But what are soft tissues?

  • Skin
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Fascia


Who is it for?

Swedish massage is for all people who are looking for a therapeutic experience; from infants to the elderly provided there are no contraindications to massage.

What does a Swedish Massage do?

Swedish massage promotes physical, emotional and mental health and relaxation. It has a variety of physical and psychological benefits.

Physical benefits:

  • Relaxation of muscles
  • Increased blood flow
  • Increased lymphatic circulation
  • Skin nourishment
  • Increased metabolic waste removal
  • Pain reduction through endorphin release

Psychological benefits:

  • Fatigue relief
  • Relaxation
  • Tension reduction

In general, Swedish massage uses set and measured strokes with symmetrical application to all areas of the body, and has a significant ‘feel-good’ factor.

Sports Massage


What is Sports Massage?

Sports massage is a more intense soft tissue manipulation that is usually performed within the context of sport but can be applied to sedentary individuals too. It generally follows the Swedish system and employs its techniques such as effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibration, and frictions.

Sports massage, however, has its own variations which include soft tissue release, stretching techniques, compressions, and neuromuscular techniques which all add another dimension of outcomes to this kind of massage.

Who is it for?

Sports primarily massage is designed for athletes (recreational and professional), people who are physically active or people with physically demanding jobs. It is appropriate for any un-injured person, regardless of one’s fitness level or age.

Though the name may suggest that these massages are limited to athletes, on the contrary, they can be beneficial to people who want to improve their general well-being and overall physical ability provided they do not have any contraindications.

What does a Sports Massage do?

Sports Massages are mainly performed with the aim of assisting more efficient recovery, preventing injuries and achieving peak performance. These massages can also be done for relaxation and rejuvenation depending on a client’s needs.

They are often specific to a person’s sport or activity focusing mainly on the muscle groups involved in the activities.

In the sporting context, sports massage can be done at different times depending on the needs of the athletes. Usally atheletes are advised to seek sports massage treatment for the following reasons:

  • Maintenance: These are part of an athlete’s training regimen and are used to help the athlete train rigorously with fewer injuries.
  • Pre-event: These occur prior to an event and are used together with warm-up and activate the muscle to prepare the athlete for optimal performance.
  • Inter-event: These occur between events performed on the same day to maximize short term recovery and work away on-the-day stiffness and tightness.
  • Post-event: These occur after an event and are used to relax the athlete and to return the soft tissues to its original state quicker.
  • Rehabilitative: These occur in conjunction with other rehabilitative measures to allow for injury recovery and to prevent reoccurrence.


Benifits of Sports Massage Treatment

    The aims of sports massages are made possible due to their benefits which include:

  • Release of stiffness and soft tissue tension
  • Improved Recovery by the mechanism of increased blood and lymph flow which drains wastes and increases oxygen and nutrient uptake
  • Decrease in muscle spasms
  • Scar tissue breakdown
  • Loosening up of adhesions
  • Increased flexibility and tissue extensibility
  • Restoration of mobility to immobile joints and muscles
  • Relaxation


In Summary

Sports massage, is different to Swedish in that the strokes are less planned, but instead are altered based on what the recipients body requires. While the application of Sports massage may appear to be ‘aggressive,’ it is focused on functional outcomes rather than feel-good factor.

Choosing the right massage is all dependent on individual needs and desired outcomes. Swedish massages and Sports massages are somewhat interrelated but are also tailored to you…It all depends on what you need!

Contact Us

If you have any queries or would like to book a massage, feel free to contact us!

While massage therapy is often used in conjunction with other medical treatment modalities, it is not appropriate for the direct treatment of medical pathologies. Should you be unsure about a certain injury/niggle, please contact a qualified medical professional (biokineticist, physiotherapist, general practitioner) before having a massage as the content on this website is purely informational. It is not a replacement for any diagnosis, treatment or advice from a qualified medical professional.

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