Soft Tissue Therapy: Sports Massage or Deep Tissue Massage. What's the difference and who is it for?!

Berkhamsted Chiropractic Clinic Rebecca Ash Sports Massage Therapist

The 'Sports Massage Association' defines Soft Tissue Therapy as "the application of soft tissue techniques with the aim of managing, manipulating and rehabilitating muscles, tendons and ligaments” - which means all the soft tissue of the musculoskeletal system.

Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage are types of Soft Tissue Therapy.  Sports massage uses deep AND subtle techniques which is why it is also referred to as a Deep Tissue Massage.  A Sports Massage Therapist and a Deep Tissue Therapist are ultimately both Soft Tissue Therapists and will tailor the therapy according to the individual client’s requirements at that specific time.  The variety of techniques used in Soft Tissue Therapy are used to search out restrictions, initiate change, restore function and alleviate pain. 

You do not need to be a sports performer to benefit from Soft Tissue Therapy.

The benefits can help relieve day to day problems many of us experience; repetitive strain injury, sprains, tension, and fatigue. Soft Tissue Therapists work with a great range of clients in assisting with preventive treatment and injury recovery.

But...If you ARE a Sportsperson, of any ability, Soft Tissue Therapy can be of benefit within your training programme.  The treatment will vary depending on why you have sought it out, but there are four main treatment types-

  • Conditioning/Maintenance massage
  • Pre-event massage
  • Post-event massage
  • Injury treatment

Conditioning/Maintenance massage

This type of massage takes place in between training sessions and the aim is to work on specific elements and tissue structures which have become shortened, tight and painful. The idea is to loosen off tightness within soft tissues so as to improve performance and prevent injury. A variety of techniques can be used, ranging from deep tissue work, Trigger Point therapy, Muscle Energy Technique and mobilisation of joints, to specific stretching and strengthening. A typical sports maintenance massage lasts an hour and is a very helpful regular addition to a training programme, particularly if you're training for an endurance event.


The aim of a pre-event massage prepares the body and the mind for the race ahead.  As the name suggests, it is best practised just before an event and the massage is performed at a fast, brisk pace - though not too deep - to stimulate tissue and circulation.


A sports massage after a race is a great way to soothe and ease fatigued and tired tissues and prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The pace of this massage is slow, rhythmical and gentle and it usually lasts for about 20-30 minutes.

Injury treatment

Sports massage can also be used to treat specific soft tissue injuries and a wide variety of techniques and methods can be used to reduce the recovery time and help get you back training.

What to expect-

It is important to keep several things in mind when you visit a therapist:

  • Keep your expectations real
  • It's your body - be aware of how you are reacting
  • If improvements are taking place, you are on the right track
  • A good therapist will refer you to other specialists or advise on alternative action if required.

Regardless of your activity levels, whether you exercise socially, compete to a high level, or are suffering from daily demands placed on the body - Soft Tissue Therapy has something to offer you!

Rebecca is offering a 15% Introductory Offer to new clients until the end of April. Call her Directly on: 07747 023632