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Various Types of Massage for the Athlete’s Benefit

Massage TherapyThere are four common types of massage: Swedish, deep tissue, sports and trigger point. Identifying what you hope to get out of the experience helps you choose the right form:


This method is the one known for its relaxing properties. With this type of massage, therapists typically use long, gliding strokes in an attempt to decrease general hypertonicity — or tension — in the muscles. This type of therapy often addresses muscle groups in large subsections and the muscles are worked from insertion to origin (toward the heart) with very light gliding or kneading movements. The prevailing thought is that this helps improve circulation and relax muscles.

This relaxation also affects your mind, which Davis notes can be important for athletes trying to juggle training with home- and work-life.


This method also relieves tension, although not though the relaxation component. As the name implies, the deep muscles and fascia — a type of connective tissue — are the targets of a deep tissue massage. This type of massage generally uses more intense pressure compared to other massages.

When getting a deep tissue massage, be prepared for discomfort, but at the same time you don’t want the session to be too painful. Communicating your pressure preferences is the key.


Similar to deep tissue, sports massage is designed specifically with athletes in mind. It uses a wide variety of techniques to address specific pain and muscle tension brought on by sports.
It is normally divided into pre-event and post-event, and involves often-times an athlete dressed into light exercise clothes.

For a pre-event massage, a therapist utilizes following techniques on wide muscle groups:

  1. Friction to create heat to warm up the superficial tissue.
  2. Compression to increase blood flow to the muscles.
  3. Tapotement to stimulate the muscles.
  4. Range of motion of the joints to increase or decrease stiffness.
  5. Gentle stretching to prepare muscles for the warm-up.

For post-event massage, which should never last more than 10-15 min, and is not a full-body massage. A typical post-event leg routine might consist of compressive effleurage for calming the nervous system and pushing fluid; pettrisage for easing tension in the muscle; compression for spreading muscle fibers and restoring blood flow; broadening strokes to lengthen tight muscles; and compressive effleurage as a finishing stroke to soothe. Following the massage, therapeutic stretching can be administered to relieve muscle tension and restore range of motion.


A trigger point is a taut band of muscle tissue — commonly referred to as a knot — that interferes with normal blood flow and is painful when pressed on. The goal of a trigger point massage is to help these taut bands of muscle tissue to relax and restore appropriate blood supply.


The right type of massage for runners depends on your current needs and goals for recovery. The purpose of a massage depends on the presence of an injury, the cause of the injury, where the runner is in his/her training cycle and the runner’s individual response and preference to the different types of massage. Since all runners have different preferences, different responses to the types of massage, and stress different areas of the body while running, there is not one type of massage that’s best for all runners.

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Types of Massage Northeast Colorado Springs | (719) 260-5525