Massage Therapy & Sports Medicine


Massage therapists are involved in sports medicine to treat muscle injuries before and after competitions, to prepare athletes for play and to assist in athlete rehab programs. Massage therapists who are trained in specific sports-related injuries and massage techniques often work with doctors who specialize in sports medicine.


Regular massage by a therapist trained in treatment for athletes can play an important role in preventing injuries, report doctors at the Sports Injury Clinic website. Sports massage therapists are trained to identify sports-related injuries in deep muscle tissue as well as how to find knots and scar tissue from previous injuries. They treat specific injuries, such as muscle pulls, hamstring damage and imbalances, due to improper posture or overuse.


Doctors at the Sports Injury Clinic website report that sports massage therapy uses many of the same techniques used in other massage modalities. The massage usually is deeper than most deep tissue massage techniques, however, and friction techniques often are incorporated to break up sticking tendons and deep scar tissue.

Mental Benefits

The benefits of medical sports massage include improved performance and reduced anxiety levels. Athletes are more relaxed after a massage, which can help them perform better. Deep tissue massage releases endorphins that can aid in psychological well-being and increase energy levels, report doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Electrical signals are sent throughout the body that can elevate mood, reduce stress and ease tension.

Physical Benefits

The strokes used in massage therapy move nutrients to the muscles that need them the most. It can stretch tendons and ligaments in directions they do not usually achieve to improve muscle elasticity. Sports massage breaks down scar tissue and increases circulation to the needed muscles for quicker recovery and healing, report doctors at the Sports Injury Clinic website. Sports massage therapists also can help to treat other medical conditions, such as headaches, chronic pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, report doctors at Ohio State University. Other body systems that benefit from sports massage include the lymphatic and nervous systems.


A trained sports massage therapist can recognize when massage may be more harmful to an athlete and can refer clients for medical treatment when they spot specific injuries. Ruptures that may still be bleeding internally should not be massaged, just as massage is contraindicated when an open wound is present. Tendon ruptures typically require surgery, not massage. Other conditions that a sports massage therapist may recognize and decline to treat include bursitis, broken bones, rheumatoid arthritis and thrombosis.