When you push yourself to your physical limits, you might be putting your body at risk. 

Your muscles cramp up, probably get strained, and it’ll take weeks to fully recover. 

In this case, you need a sports massage. It’s a common recovery method, vouched for by athletes like Usain Bolt. But what is sports massage? And how exactly can it benefit non-athletes like you and me?

Old illustration of woman getting a leg massage

What is Sports Massage and Where Did It Come From?

Sports massage is a type of massage therapy that targets areas of the body that are strained from repetitive and strenuous movements. 

One session can last between 60-90 minutes, and is ideal for people undergoing athletic training. However, the concept of recovering through massage isn’t entirely new. 

Massage therapy was practiced in ancient Greece, Egypt, and more. Even back then, gladiators saw the importance of recovering from sore muscles. For instance, Galen, a physician from the Roman Empire, “prescribed massage for gladiators both before and after training.” 

It continued to develop in the 1900s when the first techniques and theories about sports massage emerged. Massage methods like effleurage, kneading, and trigger pointing were included in their real-life application. 

During the 1924 Olympics, 5-time gold medalist Paavo Nurmi went on record to credit sports massage as the key to his success. Many years afterward, it became an official part of athletes’ Olympic training. 

Today, this type of massage is known to benefit not just athletes, but anyone looking for effective, relaxing sore muscle pain relief.

Back pain with highlighted spine

What are The 3 Types of Sports Massage?

Pre-Event Sports Massage

Just as the name suggests, a pre-event sports massage is done at least 4 hours before the athletic event. Some even receive it days beforehand. 

This kind of massage can be part of your warm-up routine. It helps you to relax, stimulates your muscles, and gets you into the right mindset before competing. 

Post-Event Sports Massage

After competition or training, your body’s in dire need of recovery. This is where a post-event sports massage is done, at least 1 or 2 hours after the athletic event. It relaxes your muscles and prevents them from cramping up. It also significantly reduces DOMS post-workout.

Rehabilitative Sports Massage

If you want to speed up the healing process and maintain your strength, get into rehabilitative sports massage. This type of massage therapy treats muscle pain and helps you recover from injuries quickly. It also reduces the risk of a repeat injury. 

Woman getting a back massage while lying down on a massage bed

Who Can Get and Benefit From a Sports Massage?

If you think this kind of massage is only exclusive to professional athletes, here’s a list of who can really benefit from it. 

Getting a sports massage is perfect if you: 

  • Play tennis, soccer, or any other type of impact sport
  • Do hard, physical labor every day
  • Deal with chronic muscle pain such as fibromyalgia
  • Recovering from physical injuries and muscle trauma
  • Get sore and aching muscles after a workout

Illustration of the benefits of massage therapy

What are the Proven Health Benefits of Sports Massage?

  • It reduces DOMS and muscle aches

When your daily work involves repetitive movements, your muscles will eventually feel strained. Fortunately, sports massage reduces DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness by at least 30%. It also lessens the swelling and pain in tense muscles. 

  • It helps in treating sciatica and other chronic pains

Aside from muscle soreness, chronic pain is also a common problem people have to deal with. More than 20% of the US adult population suffers from chronic pain every day. 

If you’re included in this statistic, a massage session can do you a lot of good. It’s effective in helping you relax and reducing the flaring aches from your daily routine. 

  • It loosens up tight muscles and cramps

With each kneading stroke, sports massage stretches your tired muscles until they relax and become ready for recovery. It reduces tension and lowers down the chance of post-workout injury. 

  • It can increase range in motion and flexibility

Many studies have proven that regular massage can increase your range of motion and flexibility. For this reason, many athletes find it useful before a competition. Patients recovering from injuries also benefit from it, as it helps return their mobility. 

  • It guarantees a good night’s sleep

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, sports massage is guaranteed to help you sleep better at night. Aside from the physical effects, massage lowers the stress hormone, or cortisol, in your brain. It helps you slow down and feel less anxious. 

Here are some honest takes about more of its benefits, from Reddit:

Reddit screenshot explaining how sports massage helped their joint hypermobility and muscle spasm

Reddit screenshot explaining how sports massage helped their scoliosis

Reddit screenshot explaining his recovery routine

Reddit screenshot explaining how effective sports massage can be after heavy activity

Reddit screenshot of how sports massage can be customized

Are There Likely Side Effects When Getting a Sports Massage?

While it does provide a lot of health benefits, it might not be for everyone. Here are some of the possible side effects to consider before you get your first appointment. 

  • Lingering post-massage pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Redness or bruising on the skin

Man using the Hydragun on his calf

How to Do Sports Massage at Home?

Just because you’re stuck at home, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the spa experience anymore. There are a few simple ways on how to give yourself a sports massage at home. 

Get a Massage Gun

Booking an appointment with a massage therapist can be a time-consuming hassle. Most of the time, you need a quick fix for your body aches. In short, you need a massage gun. It kneads the pain away in less than 10 minutes. 

Research Self-Massage Techniques

If you don’t have anyone else to massage you, try doing it yourself. Many massage techniques are easy enough to be replicated at home, as long as you’re careful about it. In the video below, a massage therapist explains in detail the self-massage techniques you can do right now. 

If you’re still unsure or you have a chronic condition, consult your local massage therapist or physician on how to do a self-massage. 

The Takeaway

Sports massage isn’t only beneficial for dedicated sportsmen. It’s for anyone who deals with physically demanding work every day. Whether you’re hunching over your work desk, or repeatedly lifting boxes, this can be the pain-relief solution you’re looking for. 

If you really need a massage now, check out the HYDRAGUN. Try it for 30 days – if you didn’t like it for any reason at all – send it back, and they’ll give you a full refund, no questions asked. It’s risk-free, effective muscle recovery. What do you have to lose? 


  1. Shammy Peterson January 24, 2022 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    I loved that you said that sports massage lessens the swelling and pain in tense muscles and reduces delayed onset muscle soreness by at least 30%. With this in mind, I will ask my brother to see a sports massage therapist within the week. Due to everyday basketball play, he has been complaining about neck and shoulder pains. He would surely feel more energized once he considers undergoing massage therapy.

  2. Sports Massage June 23, 2022 at 9:17 am - Reply

    I read you blog and you are 100% right. Sports massage is manual manipulation of the muscles geared specifically toward helping people who have physically demanding lifestyles and/or hobbies. This kind of therapeutic massage considers the impact of certain activities on specific joints, muscle groups, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue groups.

Leave A Comment