What Is The Difference Between Sports Massage and Sports Therapy
The chances are if you are a keen sports participant, or you have ever suffered an injury which required some rehabilitation, you will have come across both sports massage and sports therapy at some point – but what exactly do they offer and what are the differences?
Effectively, the key difference is that sports therapy is focused on injury prevention and rehabilitation whereas sports massage is focused on providing relief to tired and tight muscles, so they can be complementary but provide two very distinct benefits.
Sports massage and sports therapy to prevent injury
Sports massage and sports therapy are both beneficial in the prevention, and rehabilitation of injuries caused by strenuous physical activity in different ways. Both can be used by athletes prior to a big event, in a prevention approach.
For example, sports therapy would be looking at diet, exercise and physical techniques to ensure the athlete is in top shape before entering a competition, and then sports massage would be given just prior to starting, to help warm up the muscles and get them into an energised state of mind.
Sports massage and sports therapy post event
Once a sporting event has been completed, athletes will need support perhaps to deal with a sprain, or just to help the muscles relax following the exertion, which is where both techniques work together to help.
If you have just completed a sports event and required some support, then a slow sports massage would help to relax the muscles and flush out toxins, whereas with sports therapy you are more likely to be given an acupressure massage to treat a sprained muscle, for example.
Non-sport conditions which can benefit
While we have used examples from athletes, despite the name “sports”, both of these treatments can be used for non-sport related conditions as well. Sports therapy is concerned with the treatment of pain and injury, even if the person never took part in a sport, whereas sports massage is about the relief of tired and aching muscles, which could occur after a strenuous gardening session as much as after a game of football.
When it comes to rehabilitation following an injury, a sports massage can help in certain cases, by breaking down scar tissue and helping to increase mobility, relaxation and promoting healing. Sports therapy will use massage techniques but also rehabilitation exercises, and a focus on overall health and wellness to help get the person back to full restored health and recovery.
What are the skillset differences?
Both treatments require different skillsets and different training for practitioners who offer them as well. For example, sports massage, as the name suggests, focuses on specific massage techniques to relieve areas of pain, tightness and soreness in the muscles. However, sports therapy can include advice on diet, physical exercise, back rubs and electrotherapy.
Both treatments must be provided by qualified professionals and it requires very different training to become a qualified Sports Therapist compared with a Sports Massage Therapist, so always ask to see qualifications and certifications from anyone you approach to help you.
Whether you need Sports Therapy or a Sports Massage really depends on your condition and your requirements and while both treatments are different, they can work together to help support physically active people both in the prevention and rehabilitation of injury.
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