Massage therapy is a useful way of keeping your body in good shape. And just as there are various reasons you might get a massage or multiple places on your body that could benefit from a massage, there are different types of massages altogether, two of which are deep tissue massage and sports massage. These two types of massages are similar but also have a distinct difference.
The difference between sports massage deep tissue massage and is the parts of the body that are focused on during the massage.
Deep tissue massage therapy focuses on the whole body. In contrast, sports massage therapy is a more targeted approach, focusing on the parts of the body that are easily injured or strained by recreational activity.
To determine which type of massage may be best for you, read on to get the details on both.
Sports Massage Therapy
As mentioned above, sports massage therapy is specifically focused on the soft tissues that are more easily injured or strained when the patient plays sports or does any other recreational activity. But sports massages don’t have to be for the injured. Some athletes incorporate sports massages into their pre and post-competition regimens to keep their bodies in optimal form.
Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy
Sports massages are helpful for aches and pains of all sorts. Still, they can be best utilized in the unfortunate event of being injured during a recreational activity, such as overuse and over-extension of a baseball pitcher’s arm.
The overall benefits of sports massages are both physical and mental. Physically, the techniques used in sports massage can loosen tightened muscles, increase blood flow and overall range of motion, and in some cases, help speed up injury recovery time, depending on the injury the athlete sustains. Apart from the physical, massages can have a distinct mental benefit, as well. In general, massage therapy can increase the production of certain chemicals in the brain, particularly dopamine and serotonin, that can help regulate one’s mental faculties and even impact certain conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
Ideal Candidates for Sports Massage Therapy
Massage therapy has both mental and physical benefits; sports massage therapy may be especially beneficial to athletes. When sports are such a monumental aspect of your life, the physical benefits of sports massage may help to either prevent or expedite recovery from an injury. Sports massage can also help with the mental strain that comes with either being sidelined from an injury or being hyperaware of trying to avoid one.
Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
Suppose sports massage is targeted to areas that might be at-risk in athletes. In that case, deep tissue massages are for aches and pains anywhere, as the massage therapist will dedicate an amount of time to treating the body as a whole and any areas the patient identifies as problematic.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
Like sports massage, deep tissue massage therapy has physical and mental health benefits to it.
The techniques used in deep tissue massage therapy can aid in the loosening of muscles and the reparation of scar tissue, thanks to the circulatory system’s opening. Similarly, the effleurage—lighter stroking touches—and petrissage—kneading, squeezing touches—techniques used in deep tissue massage therapy can help to stimulate the body’s lymph system. Stimulating the lymph system helps to rid the muscles of the toxins that have built up over time.
Additionally, when undergoing massage therapy, the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, get reduced. Stress can play a part in chronic illness, particularly making a disease’s symptoms worse. There is also research evidence to suggest that the use of massage therapy can improve the patient’s ability to sleep, which in itself allows the body to rest and recover from certain illnesses or injuries. Massage therapy may also relieve the symptoms of physical ailments, such as the chronic pain experienced by people living with fibromyalgia.
Like sports massage, deep tissue massage therapy helps produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which can help improve sleep and mitigate certain mental disorders.
Ideal Candidates for Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
Because deep tissue massage therapy is overall less targeted than sports massage therapy, it stands to reason that it would have a more considerable appeal. Just about anyone is a good candidate for a deep tissue massage.
The body’s soft tissues, particularly around joints like the knees and shoulders, can even become tense or injured during everyday activity, including the repeated lifting of objects in manual labor positions. Even for an office worker sitting at a desk all day, there is a risk of muscle strain. Deep tissue massage focuses on those soft tissues. Because of this focus, the athletically challenged are as deserving of a massage as the athletically capable.
Of course, it is vital to be aware of your own body when booking a massage appointment. Certain conditions carry a risk of injury if a body part is manipulated too roughly. Similarly, certain medications, such as blood thinners, have a risk for a massage patient. Be sure to mention any such medications you may be taking in preparation for your appointment.
A Final Word
Overall, the similarities between deep tissue massage therapy and sports massage therapy are far greater in number than their differences. Both employ techniques with varying degrees of pressure and intensity with the same goal of restorative treatment. Both offer several physical and mental benefits as a result. The difference is the reason for treatment and the body parts on which the session will center.
If you are still unsure which sort of massage might best benefit you, call your local massage parlor and inquire about the services they offer. They likely will offer both sports massage and deep tissue massage, but it is a good idea to confirm. And should you be looking for a sports massage, physical therapy offices are also a safe bet.
No matter where you go, and no matter which massage you choose, your body will indeed thank you.