Is sports massage painful?

Is Sports Massage Painful?

sports massage


It’s the million dollar question if I got paid every time someone asked me “is sports massage painful?” I’d be very rich indeed.

So is sports massage painful?

How long is a piece of string?

The answer is It can be, it doesn’t have to be and sometimes it’s unavoidable.

First things first

Whilst it can be painful you shouldn’t be bruised after a session. If you are then there has at the very least been a communication breakdown between the therapist and yourself. There is never a requirement for the degree of pressure that would cause bruising.

Like any other treatment process, there needs to be communication between the person receiving treatment and the one doing the treatment.

For all the clain=ms of being able to feel knots in muscles etc no therapist even those who clain=m to be able to feel a pee under a pile of mattresses can’t read minds.

A good massage therapist will always be checking the expression on your face or the tone of your voice for signs of distress. They can’t do this when you are face down though so if something is particularly painful you should definitely tell them.


One of the best things about massage is how it aids general relaxation. It takes your body from a stressed state and eases it towards a calm one. Or more technically in terms of the autonomic nervous system from a more sympathetic dominant one to a para-sympathetic one.

If you are in pain this isn’t going to happen and the main benefit is lost.

If we start gently the pressure can be gradually increased as needed.

The thing is though that it is a myth that there is any need for feeling like you’ve just gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson then a few more with Alexandr Karelin.

The goal is to get whatever area is being worked on to relax and it simply can’t be done by relentlessly attacking it.

What then?

If the massage is started gently and pressure is built gradually then you can get it to “switch off” and continue to apply good firm pressure. When this doesn’t happen no amount of beating will encourage it to.

If a specific area isn’t responding to the massage as you’d hope it is often better to go to a more “global” approach and look to calm the body down generally. Once this is done the return to the specific tight spot and see how it has responded.


We all too often discount the level of stress we are under. From work to family commitments to training, lack of sleep poor nutrition and on, and on.

The body does not discriminate between what is good stress, training, to bad stress, your boss being a dick. I say good and bad simply because on the one hand there are positives to be had with exercise and none from your boss being a dick.

In fact, workplace stress is probably the biggest cause of back and neck pain out there.

Stress is just what it is something that you need to deal with be it emotional/psychological stress or physical stress. It is simply viewed as a drain on your resources.

As such starting any massage gently and with a more general approach helps you switch off. This will then make it much easier to work on any specific areas.

What next?

What if things remain tight/painful? At this point, you need to look beyond sports massage and passive treatment.

By passive treatment, I mean treatment solely based around having things done to you. For the rehab process to work properly it cannot be passive, you need to be actively involved.

Good rehab moves from symptom modification and pain reduction, where massage sits, through gradually more challenging tasks. This restores the ability of the injured area to cope with daily tasks and beyond.


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