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Is sports massage the same as physiotherapy?
27 Aug

Is sports massage the same as physiotherapy?

When booking an appointment, you may be wondering, do I require a physiotherapy or sports massage? – often the answer is simple but there can be grey area. 

So what is the difference between a sports massage and physio?

Physiotherapy is a very wide topic area, which covers anything from rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries to neurological damage to respiratory diseases. Physiotherapist helps those people affected by restoring movement and function through a variety of different modalities such as:

  • Pilates
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercise Prescription
  • Mobilisations
  • Taping

The term ‘sports massage’ can cause common misconception – even those who don’t class themselves as a top athlete can still benefit from sports massage. The purpose of sports massage is to help alleviate stress and tension that is experienced due to physical activity (physical activity being anything from a 10km run to moving boxes during a house move). 


Sports massage can be used for different reasons:

Pre – event massage: usually short but exhilarating, given before sporting events whilst paying specific attention to involved muscles. 

Post event massage: performed within a short period after physical activity to restore the body’s tissue to normal after exertion. 

Restorative massage: given within a an event to allow the athlete to train harder.

Rehabilitation massage: offered once an injury has already occurred and aimed to alleviate and manage pain. 


Sports massage or physio?

Overall, physiotherapy and sports massage both work to help an individual either return to their pre-injured state or improve their optimal potential. 

But is sports massage the same as physiotherapy? The simple answer, is no. 

Physiotherapy is usually needed in event of a specific injury or undiagnosed pain, and would be beneficial for those severe injuries or conditions that require a longer rehabilitation process. Sport Massage on the other hand, is perfect for those who are managing with an ongoing problem or wanting to prevent injury.