Ask the physio: Sports massage

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Q I had my first sports massage recently and felt sore afterwards. Does it have any benefits?

Paul Medlicott, via email 


I started as a sports massage therapist before becoming a physiotherapist and soft-tissue work remains part of my treatment package.

Some research has found that regular sports massage by a trained therapist reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), improves recovery and can reduce the risk of injury. My view is that sports massage works for injury recovery and performance, and that view is supported by the fact that sports governing bodies around the world fund this therapy for their athletes.

The soreness you felt after your first treatment is simply the body adjusting to the developments made during the massage – releasing muscle tissue, identifying trigger points (or muscle knots) and working the muscle with sufficient pressure can lead to some pain the following day.

The timing of your massage in relation to your event is a personal thing – some people feel amazing the day they have it and want to compete immediately, some find the next day holds the greatest benefits and others need 48 hours to get over the soreness.

The most effective practitioners of sports massage are appropriately qualified, so make sure you find your therapist via the Sports Massage Association. And bear in mind that there are physiotherapists, such as myself, who also hold the qualification and can possibly give you the best of both worlds. 

Paul Hobrough is founder of Physio&Therapy UK (physioandtherapy.co.uk). Got a problem? Email askthephysio@rw.co.uk.