What's The Difference Between a Sports Massage and a Remedial Massage?

From sports massage to remedial massage to therapeutic massage to essential oils massage to reiki to trigger point release to deep tissue massage to myofascial release - the list of massage styles is endless and to be honest, confusing! Clients come in and sometimes even I have to second guess when they ask me if I do remedial massage? Do I? It sounds fancy. What’s the difference again?

Before I delve into the different types of massages around, it is important to note that the variety of treatment is actually around for a reason. We need different types of massage for different types of ailments/ occasions. For example getting a deep tissue massage when you have an acute, spasm-ing injury, will more likely make things worse than better. Likewise, if you walk into a clinic and ask for a sports massage without going into your previous medical history, you may end up receiving a sports massage but be worse off for it. The myriad of names for different types of massages is getting a bit out of control, but can be put under two popular headings:

Sports Massage

This is used to address a lot of specific ailments and sporting injuries and very often, is not very comfortable. It is traditionally used in the population who spend a lot of time putting their body under load (training) and require massage and manipulation of soft tissue to help prevent injury or to offload over-active areas.

Remedial Massage

This is actually an umbrella term that includes a variety of treatment techniques such as trigger point release, myofascial release, deep tissue massage, lymphatic drainage etc to help fix damaged joints/soft tissue. You generally use this term if you have some type of injury that needs fixing.

So which one should you pick?? Honestly, I wouldn’t use either term. Go in, chat to your physio or massage therapist and tell them what it is you need worked on. Answer their questions (I swear we ask them for a reason, even if it sounds like it has NO bearing whatsoever on what you’ve come in with!) and let them decide on the technique that will suit you best. They may get started thinking that deep tissue will work and find out that you have a low pain threshold and it’ll just make you tense and tighten up even more.

A quick side note on that. Your physio will pick the treatment type that they believe will help get you back to 100% fastest. If you feel like it’s not what your body needs – tell them – it is your body after all, and you know it best. HOWEVER, please do trust us when we deliver a treatment style and if you don’t understand why we’re doing it – ask. For example if you come in to see me with an acute (new) injury, even though you may be aching for me to dig my elbow into the sore area, I will give you a gentle massage because if I go too hard your injured area will get protective and spasm up (i.e. will get worse). Just like if you come in with pain down the front of your arm and wonder why I work on your shoulder and neck. Please ASK. Your physio should always be explaining why they’re doing what they’re doing, but it can be easy to take it for granted that everyone understands the body the way we do.

Do you have a niggling ache or pain? Book in to see one of our physio's today - book online here or call us on (08) 9448 2994!

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