Article | Category: Glossary Terms

Deep-tissue massage directed specifically at muscles used in athletic activities. This massage can be either preventive or corrective in approach. Because it is given to those whose body tone and condition is tied to performance, it can be as specific as working over of leg muscles (in a runner, for example), or kneading muscles to assure optimal flexibility appropriate to the sport the person is engaged in.




Other Names:

Athletic Massage, Remedial Massage


Definition of Offering

Deep tissue massages directly related to muscles affected.  Regular sports massages are forms of many athletes strategies to injury prevention.


Description of Offering

A massage geared toward athletes that focuses specifically on areas of the body that are overused and stressed due to the repetitive motion in sports.


This offering is a modern creation (originated after 1800).


Creator of Offering (Nationality)

Pehr Henrik Ling (Swedish)


Comments about offering’s origin/creator

Swedish fencing master and gymnast Pehr Henrik Ling combined the strokes of what we know as Swedish massage with remedial exercises, calling his technique kinesiotherapy.


Brief History of the Offering

Sports massage has been used for centuries to enhance the performance of competitive athletes.  Although many of the techniques in sports massage are utilized in other forms of massages, sports massage is key specific to individualized needs. Specific techniques by sports MTs can be provided to athletes in all sports.


Fun Fact

During the olympic games, massages were used to revamp athletes for their next competition.




Primary Benefit Received

Pain Reduction


Other Benefits

Increase Strength, Energy Alignment, Increase Flexibility, Body Maintenance, Increase Circulation in Body, Stress Reduction


Research Publication

Massage and Performance Recovery:  A Meta-Analytic Review

Poppendieck, Wegmann, Ferraunti, Kellmann, Pfeiffer and Meyer

Sports Medicine (2016), 46, 183-204


Primary Findings of Research

Of the 22 studies, 5 used techniques of automated massage while the other 17 used classic manual massage. A tendency was found for shorter massage to have larger effects than massage lasting more than 12 min. The effects were larger for short-term recovery of up to 10 min than for recovery periods of more than 20 min. Moreover, a tendency was found for untrained subjects to benefit more from massage than trained athletes.




Typical Length of Offering

60 - 75 minutes


The offering is most often provided one guest at a time.


Offering is primarily suited for:

Day Spa (wellness focus), Medical Clinic/Spa, Hospital/Rehabilitation Center, Club Spa (day or residential), Fitness/Wellness Centers/Gyms


How many treatment providers are needed to produce the offering?



Common License/Certification or Training necessary to provide the offering:

Massage Therapist (general training), Massage Therapist (with supplemental training), Physical Therapist.


Information about the most often used offering protocol

Three Key Principles of Sports Massage

Michael McGillicuddy (2003)


Comments about Offering Protocol

Timing and content are important when offering a sports massage, and they both go hand in hand. Having a guideline of why you are giving the massage, what it needs to accomplish, and what are the techniques that make the job successful- will help each massage go efficiently.


Type of space/facility most often used for the offering:

Private Dry Treatment Room


Type of space/facility that can be use for the offering:

Sports teams typically offer massage in public common areas.


How many towels are used?

0 - 4


Does the guest generally use a robe and/or a wrap for the offering?

Yes, robe only.


How many sheets are used?

0 - 2


Does the offering require the use of products (i.e. lotions, lacquers, scrubs, cleansers, etc.)?



How many different products are used?

1 - 3


Approximate product cost per treatment:

$3 USD


Products used:

Body Lotions, Muscle Relaxing Ointments


Does the offering require the use of disposable supplies (i.e. cotton squares, balls and swabs, lancets, etc.)?




Equipment and supplies needed to provide the offering:

Raised Massage-style Table, Reclined Table/chair, Water Source (sink or shower), Hot Product/Tool Warmer (typically for stones, wax, paraffin, etc.), Massage Tools (stones, thumb protector, cups, etc.)


Beyond labor, linens, disposable supplies and products, please list any other direct costs associated with the offering?



Including only the following items (products, disposable items, linen laundry, and other direct costs---not labor), what is the typical cost of the offering?

$2 - $10 USD


Typical single session price of the offering.

$55 - $120 USD


Comments about offering price.

With sports massage, single sessions are not usually the norm. Athletes plan on returning multiple times in order to get the overall success of what the massage has to offer.




Publication used to prepare this submission.

A Brief History of Sports Massage

James Waslaski


Cost of Massage

Consumer Help (2010)


What is a Sports Massage Therapist

Sports Management Degrees

Education and Training Requirements (2017)


The Benefits of Sports Massage

Heather Fenity

Primary and Secondary Effects of Sports Massage (2012)


Author Information

Rachel Lewis

Florida Gulf Coast University


Author Biography

Rachel Lewis is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, pursuing a degree in Resort & Hospitality Management. She plans on relocating to Boston after graduation and working as a catering manager at Fenway Park.


Editor Information:

Mary Wisnom

Professor, School of Resort & Hospitality Management, Florida Gulf Coast University, USA