You know recovery is a hugely important part of your workout routine. After all, that’s when your muscles actually rebuild what’s been broken down during exercise. But with so many different recovery tools and methods out there, it can all get a little confusing. Take sports massage—what the heck is it anyway? And how is it different from a deep tissue massage you see on spa menus?
“Sports massage actually draws from several techniques that may already be familiar to you, including Swedish massage, which improves blood circulation and oxygenation, and deep tissue massage, which targets and breaks up muscle knots and areas of tightness,” explains Annette Marshall, licensed massage therapist.
Before your massage begins, your therapist will ask you a bit about about the types of activities you do, and then will focus specifically on the areas of the body most affected by that exercise. So if you’re a runner, you can expect some hamstring love, and if you’re big into CrossFit, your therapist may focus more on your back and shoulders. The various techniques can range from stretching and manipulating muscles to getting deeper into muscles with intense pressure.
“Because of the targeted nature of this technique, you will likely not receive a full-body massage, so for for body-wide aches and muscle knots you may prefer a deep tissue massage,” advises Marshall. But you get an extra bonus with sports massage because it also incorporates stretching and an active range of motion, so it mimics exercise more closely.