What is the Difference Between Sports and Deep Tissue Massage?

massage therapist providing a sport massage to a client

Are you interested in becoming a massage therapist? Every year millions of people experience the positive benefits of receiving a professional massage. A massage therapist is an individual who excels at the art of providing therapeutic relief to clients through a series of massage techniques using their hands, elbows, arms, knees, and feet. Furthermore, the demand for high quality massage therapists is projected to grow 32 percent over the coming decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, are you asking yourself, “What does a massage therapist do?”

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

A massage therapist enhances the quality of a client’s lives by reducing their pain and decreasing stress. Prior to an appointment, you will meet with your client to better understand what they would like to achieve with their massage session. Some clients may want to decrease their stress while increasing relaxation. Others may need to increase the flexibility and pliability of scar tissue that is affecting their mobility. Some clients are athletes and are looking to decrease their healing time from sport related injuries or want to enhance their athletic performance. Other clients may have a combination of issues they would like to address. Ultimately, you will aim work to effectively target a client’s muscles and help them improve their quality of life.

Why is Massage a Good Career?

Massage therapy is a great career for those who want to work in a highly rewarding field. Not only do you get to help clients feel better and heal from their injuries, but you also work in a dynamic work environment performing a vital service to your community. As a massage therapist, you can also use your skill set in a variety of places, including resorts, national franchises, niche spas, and on-site at office buildings. Not only are professional massage therapists in high demand, but the demand will continue to rise as people learn about the many benefits of massage. You will also enjoy flexible hours, as you can schedule your clients around other obligations.

Where Do You Learn to Become a Massage Therapist?

An easy way to become a professional massage therapist is by completing a massage therapy program at a vocational school. This is a great stepping-stone to help you learn the complete curriculum and prepare you for a career as a massage therapist.

What Do You Learn During a Massage Therapy Program?

While there are several massage techniques you learn throughout your training, there are three therapeutic techniques that you will become very familiar with. These three techniques are the Swedish technique, the sports massage, and the deep tissue massage. Following is some in-depth information about these techniques, as well as what issues each technique addresses.

The Swedish Technique

Swedish massage is the most requested massage therapy technique. In the Swedish technique, you will focus primarily on the neck and back, followed by the arms and legs. You will use your arms and hands to perform a series of strokes and tapping throughout targeted areas of the client’s body. You will use long strokes and knead the client’s muscles to promote total relaxation. The client’s joints will be carefully manipulated to pinpoint areas where additional massage may be necessary.

The amount of pressure that is applied with the Swedish technique is minimal to moderate and depends on the needs of the client. While the Swedish technique is one of the best ways to help a client destress and relax, there are a variety of other benefits as well. The Swedish technique can provide clients with a natural way of managing chronic pain and supplement the use of medications. It can also help clients combat stress, improve the immune system, and promote quicker healing from injuries.

The Sports Massage

The second technique many people are familiar with is sports massage. Sports massage uses the techniques of Swedish massage but usually targets only areas of the body that are injured. Athletes of every skill level can benefit from this unique technique. In this Swedish massage-based technique, you will use a combination of movements to target the athlete’s muscles. This set of movements contain effleurage, kneading, wringing, and tapotement. You will then work on the client’s range of motion by purposeful manipulation of each limb. Gentle stretching techniques provide the client with maximum benefits.

Not only is the sports massage perfect for athletes and those training for marathons, but it is also great for clients who are recovering from major surgery or injury. Since sports technique targets flexibility and range of motion, it can also help break up scar tissue that may impede a client’s mobility and healing time.

Deep Tissue Technique

The deep tissue technique is another well-known therapeutic technique that all professional massage therapists will learn to perform. This is a more intense Swedish massage-based technique that may seem painful to some but comes with many benefits. In this technique you will use a great amount of pressure to effectively target the tension trapped within the deep layers of muscle and through the connective tissue. The movements are performed slowly, methodically, and with heavier pressure than other techniques.

The benefits of this technique are both vast and varied. While it is more intense than alternative techniques, many clients find this method to be incredibly helpful for both physical and mental health. This technique can also help those who suffer from high blood pressure and heart problems.

What is the Difference Between Sports and Deep Tissue Massage?

While some of the motions are the same, there are a few subtle differences between these two techniques, as well as which clients they are best suited for. While both sports and deep tissue use the Swedish technique as their primary base, there are important distinctions for when they should be used, as well as who they are used for. With the sports technique, the focus is primarily on one or two target areas of an athlete’s body with the deep tissue technique, the client is massaged on their entire body. There may be one or two areas which need more work, but generally you will massage the client’s entire body during a deep tissue massage.

Another difference is that the sports technique is usually used for sports-related injury rehabilitation. If performed correctly, the sports technique will improve blood flow to the site of injury, which decreases the amount of time the athlete needs to heal. Deep tissue is used for a variety of reasons but is generally used for intense relief from stress and tension throughout the body.

What Else Do You Learn During a Massage Therapy Program?

Massage therapists will learn many subjects and complete hands-on training before graduating from a vocational school. The following is a brief overview of some of the important topics that you will learn about.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy is the study of how the body is made and physiology is a study of how the body works. All students must have a fundamental understanding of the human anatomy as well as where the various muscles, ligaments and tendons are within the body. You will also become familiar with the 14 body systems that make up the body. And, because a successful massage is highly dependent on your knowledge of where to place pressure, you will spend a great deal of time becoming familiar with anatomy and physiology.

Massage Techniques

You will become very familiar with a series of commonly used massage therapy techniques. You will receive hands-on training and critical feedback from your instructors on how to perform each technique. In addition to Swedish, sports and deep tissue massage, you will learn Shiatsu, Thai, prenatal, hot stone, chair, myofascial release, and a few other massage techniques to round out your abilities in massage.

Kinesiology For Massage

Because you will use purposeful movement and manipulation of a client’s limbs to perform massage services, you will become well-versed in how a person’s joints and ligaments work together to allow for mobility and flexibility.

Pathology for Massage

You will learn how various ailments progress through a person’s body, as well as how they may impact motor function and mobility. This will allow you to identify any issues with the client or consider they consult a physician if the issue is severe.

Professional Business Practices

Whether you want manage or own, you will learn the ins and out of the massage business to help you run a successful massage therapy studio. This program focuses on light bookkeeping, laws, taxes and licenses that are needed to run a massage studio in Minnesota.

Final Thoughts

Massage therapy is a great career that offers job stability, flexible hours, and a great source of income. This career path is a terrific fit for someone who enjoys working with people and making a difference in a client’s lives. If this sounds intriguing, then contact us to learn more about attending our massage therapy training program.

Massage Therapy Program

If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 13 months. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their patients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

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