Guide to Massage for Athletes


An effective massage program in a daily routine proves beneficial for people belonging to different fields. However when we talk about professional athletes who themselves are fitness freaks, an active massage therapy routine can be quite helpful in speeding up recovery and for rehabilitating their bodies for improved performance. Massage therapy has been proven to benefit athletes with two different responses:

  • Mechanical response that improves their physical health with movements and pressure techniques involved in a therapy.
  • Reflex response that is linked with their neurological health and encourages them to perform better.

Benefits of Massage for Athletes:

Various studies and researches by American Massage Therapy Association has shown that massage therapy in daily routine of an athlete uplifts his physical and emotional well-being. Some major benefits that an athlete experiences with a massage therapy include:

  • Speeds up Process of Recovery: Massage therapy for athletes’ speeds up the process of healing injuries that are common with this profession. This may include sprains, tensed muscles, tears, strains etc. Not only massage therapy would reduce pain associated with these injuries but would also promote recovery by reducing negative effects of injuries.
  • Eases up DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness): Massage for athletes and sports professionals can prevent or eases up delayed onset muscle swellings and discomfort associated to these soreness. DOMS is a condition that can give you elevated chronic pain after 12 to 72 hours of exercises performed. This condition is cured with a massage therapy as it improves circulation of blood and lymph fluid that results in releasing up tensed and tired muscles.
  • Reduced Pain and Anxiety: Massage therapy is one of the best methods of reducing stress and pains. An athlete getting massage on a daily basis would have enhanced release of negative hormones and thus would prove to be a healer of chronic pains and depression. Not only it would relief pains but would also boost up your mood and mind making athlete a more balanced person.
  • Regular Massage Prevent Injuries: Some injuries can be serious ones with athletes that can worsen if not addressed early. Massage therapy on a regular basis addresses these injuries and works for keeping your muscles and tissues energized. Not only that, it gives your muscles a lot of energy to fight against any trauma or inflammation that may occur during a performance or in the process of strenuous exercises that are routine of an athlete. Muscles that are tensed are more likely to get injured easily. A regular massage routine would reduce tension along your muscles and make them more balanced and relaxed thus preventing injuries.
  • Elevated Athletic Performance: As massage therapies prove effective in uplifting your physical and psychological health, it tends to improve your performance as an athlete. Athletes who experience massage on a daily basis are more focused, have improved movement range and thus perform better.

Types of Massage Therapies for Athletes:

Massage therapies for Athletes are designed to meet individual needs and goals. There are many different massage therapies that athletes experience and some most popular and effective ones are:

  • Swedish Massage
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Myofascial Release
  • Reflexology and others.

Therapists can combine different therapies and set up a massage therapy routine program according to goals and health of his client. Usually massage methods for athletes would include intense pressure that goes deep inside their tissues and may not be a soothing gentle massage.

Massage therapies for athletes and sports person usually are:

  • Fast paced with varied pressure intensities.
  • Includes stretching that would ease up tensed muscles and would reduce soreness.
  • Deep Tissue Massage for athletes would not be a comfortable therapy as it is designed to work on tensed muscles and knots in your body. It would include applying intense pressure on your muscles and tissues. Such massage sessions occur once in a week as part of your training program.
  • Therapies with light pressure and high speed are often designed to prepare an athlete’s body muscles before their performance in a race. It could also be performed to give release to your system after an event.
  • Apart from other types, a hyperbaric oxygen therapy may also be included with massage therapy for athletes. This technique improves your blood oxygen level and would thus improve recovery and health.

Plan your Massage Schedule:

A regular massage therapy would definitely be more beneficial for an athlete’s performance and health as compared to a massage session arranged less frequently. Cumulative benefits of a regular massage program would be more helpful. It is recommended that if you are an athlete being trained to perform at a higher level or event, it is best to schedule a massage session every week. If every week is not possible for massage to be adjusted in your schedule, make it at least twice a month.

  • Before an event: Massage for athletes is often tough and thus your body may sore after a session. So if you are preparing for an event, schedule a massage session around 4-5 days before the event.
  • After an event: Similar scheduling plan should be followed after an event. As you perform in an event, you may carry some soreness for next 2-3 days, so plan a massage session around 4-5 days after an event.

Here we are focused on intense massage therapies, however as we talk about some light spa treatments; those therapies can be performed a day before the event or very next day post-event. These therapies are usually designed to relax your tensed muscles and for improvement of circulation.

Finding a Massage Therapist:

  • Make sure that you plan your massage sessions with a licensed, trained and qualified massage therapist.
  • You can get word-of-mouth referrals for a qualified massage therapist from other sportspersons or athletes performing with you.


Whether your aim is to perform as an excellent athlete or would want a therapy focused on healing your injuries, a properly designed effective massage therapy program would prove helpful in gaining success. Not only massage sessions would improve your health and would make you perform better in an event but would also train your muscles and body for speedy recovery and for prevention from common injuries. You will begin to feel physically and psychologically relaxed with a regular routine of massage therapy.

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