male having sports massage

Sports Massage – the benefits

Sports Massage in London

Feeling tired, stressed or struggling to reach your full fitness potential? A sports massage, or focussed massage therapy can help you rehabilitate injuries, reduce stress and improve performance. At ESPH we offer deep tissue massage at Harley Street, and also at East Dulwich.

What is a Sports massage?

A sports massage is a deeper, more intense version of the relaxation-type massage that most people are familiar with. Sports massage, also sometimes referred to as a Swedish massage, which may include effleurage (massage with rhythmic pressure strokes) and petrissage (massage with kneading and squeezing motions over the muscle mass as well as cross fibre frictions will aid in the treatment of specific areas such as neck pain, back aches or lower limb muscle strains or can treat the body as a whole.

The prime purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stresses and tensions which build up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. Strenuous exercise can produce late onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which can interfere with training and cause discomfort as well as lead to minor lesions or injuries which sports massage can help break down quickly and effectively (1).

Sports massage/ deep tissue massage assists with the following:

  • Muscle performance and recovery
  • Improved flexibility
  • Removing waste produce from intensive physiological muscle action
  • Encourages tissue repair
  • Injury prevention

What is the difference between a sports massage and a normal, relaxation massage?

Sports massage is similar to deep tissue Swedish massage. However, a sports massage goes a bit further and can also incorporate stretching, compression, friction, toning and trigger point response techniques similar to Acupressure and Shiatsu. As with physiotherapy, each case is different and our London massage therapists will utilise a combination of techniques to suit your particular needs.

What are the benefits of Sports massage?

Sports massage can aid rehabilitation after an injury. It is also a great addition to a training regime to help keep your muscles relaxed, toned and less prone to injury. For years, people have understood the relaxation benefits of sports massage. Research has shown that massage, largely due to the effects of ‘hands on’ techniques, creates a decrease in the stress hormones such as adrenocorticotropin and increases oxytocin which is associated with social bonding and reduced morbidity (2).

More recently, we have also begun to understand the relative health benefits of massage as a conservative, non-invasive treatment for an array of sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.

Other benefits include:

  • Elimination of post exercise toxins such as creative kinase from the body Improvement of sleep patterns
  • Assisting in the management of hormonal issues
  • Relaxation and easing the stresses of everyday life
  • Increased endorphine production and feeling of wellbeing
  • Enhanced confidence prior to sporting performance

Is Sports massage suitable for injury rehabilitation?

Yes. Our top team of expert massage therapists in East Dulwich and Harley Street are all accredited and experienced practitioners. With additional training from our physios, they understand how massage therapy fits into ESPH’s approach to rehabilitation and injury prevention and they are an integral part of our therapy teams.

Sports massage can help with the following conditions:

  • Remodelling scar tissue
  • Alleviate neural tension by reducing muscle spasm
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Anterior or posterior Compartment Syndrome
  • Carpal tunnel Syndrome
  • Groin Strain
  • Head Ache by relieving muscle tension in the upper neck muscles
  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatic pain
  • Sports injuries such as ankle sprains, tennis and golf elbow and hamstring strains

Do I need to be referred for a sports massage?

No, just pick up the phone and book yourself straight in.

What else can Sports massage be used for?

Sports massage is beneficial as a maintenance treatment for people who are actively involved with regular or high intensity exercise as well as those people who are sedentary sitting at desks and computers where certain muscles are being overused and others are under constant postural strain.  It is also beneficial after a course of physiotherapy involving joint manipulation and neural mobilisation in order to maintain muscle length and joint mobility under stressful or active circumstances. By having regular maintenance massage the need for acute physiotherapy may be reduced.

How often you might need to have maintenance massage will be recommended by your physiotherapist. In general it is better to have massage frequently such as weekly in the first instance and as progress is maintained a fortnightly or monthly massage may suffice.

Massage before and after exercise is regulated according to the athlete’s needs and their event. Pre-event massage should focus on moderate strokes over a short period such as 15 minutes to induce psychological confidence and a relaxed but ‘ready’ mental state. There is little research on the effects of pre-event massage but some evidence has been shown that massage prior to performing vigorous exercise improved perception of recovery (3) and there is anecdotal evidence that massage prior to exercise prepares the athlete mentally to function optimally.

The post event massage is designed to reduce muscle spasm and the products of metabolic waste products that build up with rigorous exercise. Essentially it can be used to increase recovery, maintain flexibility and in doing so reduce the risk of injury and ensure minimum adverse effects following a high impact physical event.


1. Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function.Zainuddin Z, Newton M, Sacco P, Nosaka K.J Athl Train. 2005 Jul-Sep;40(3):174-80.

2. Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans. Morhenn V1, Beavin LE, Zak PJ. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Nov-Dec; 18(6):11-8

3. Effects of massage on physiological restoration, perceived recovery, and repeated sports performance. B. Hemmings, M. Smith, J. Graydon, and R. Dyson. Be J Sports Med. Apr 2000; 34(2): 109-144


There are 4 comments:

  1. Alexandra Doroshenko - March 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Great sports massage with Gail Cameron. She really helped with my strained hamstring, I am not in pain any more and can resume exercising. Highly recommended!

  2. Maria McCullough - January 5, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Fab to hear you had a great session working on your hamstring. Would you be ok if we added this to our testimonial section. Thanks Maria Macc, Marketing

  3. Andrew - January 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Hi – if I book a block of massage sessions at E Dulwich can I specify the therapist of my choice? Or do you get whoever is available? Thanks,Andrew

  4. Maria McCullough - January 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Hi there Andrew – thanks so much for contacting ESPH and we will definitely do our best to assess and get you back in action. Now, I would suggest you can call our FOH team on 0207 907 1900. to discuss your condition and they can then match you to a therapist. If you have someone in mind you can mention to them. If you take a look at our ‘FIND US’ sections, there’s listings for East Dulwich or Harley Street you can view our staff and read their profiles. Alternatively if you would like us to call you back please email: info@esph.co.uk and note your details and a brief explanation of your condition. We hope to see you at ESPH soon. Many thanks for your query.

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