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.

What are Some Deep Tissue Massage Techniques?

client receiving a deep tissue massage

Do you have an interest in becoming a massage therapist? Massage therapy is a fantastic, holistic based modality, focusing on healing a client’s body, mind, and spirit. And, this industry is projected to grow 32 percent over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Massage therapists utilize a variety of massage techniques to alleviate their client’s aches and pains, as well as promote healing and spiritual restoration. So, what are some of the techniques you learn during a massage therapy program? We first look at one of the most requested techniques for those suffering from painful disorders and chronic pain, deep tissue massage.

What are Some Deep Tissue Massage Techniques?

Deep tissue massage has evolved from Swedish massage. Swedish massage therapy is widely considered to be one of the most effective and popular therapeutic techniques. Many clients book an appointment for a deep tissue massage for a variety of reasons. These massage techniques were initially developed to address sports injuries, strains, and repetitive motion injuries. Deep tissue massage techniques are intended to restore health and encourage healing, as well as promote a client’s overall wellness through methodically applying pressure and movement to target a client’s connective tissues and muscles.

While it sounds concise, Swedish massage therapy requires purposeful movement throughout the session, and has some unique differences from a regular deep tissue massage. Massage therapists utilize a series of techniques during Swedish massage, including effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, friction and vibration to help the client achieve relief and relaxation.

Technique #1: Effleurage

Effleurage consists of long, gliding motions across the client’s body, with purposeful strokes varying in intensity and pressure. These movements help to elongate the muscle, therefore reducing muscle tension and providing relief from aches and pains.

Technique #2: Petrissage

Petrissage consists of applying deep pressure in the form of kneading and wringing the client’s skin to effectively target the affected area. This technique relies on a massage therapist utilizing the palms of their hands to deliver the intended pressure.

Technique #3: Tapotement

Tapotement is another essential component of delivering an effective Swedish massage. This is the technical term for the rhythmic and repeated striking of the hands onto the body of the client and is performed to relax and loosen stiff muscles, “awaken” the body, and loosen trapped lymphatic build up within the back. This movement is a primary component of an effective Swedish massage therapy session and is dependent upon maintaining momentum and speed.

Technique #4: Friction

Another important component of the Swedish massage technique is friction. Friction is achieved by using the thumb and fingers to apply deep pressure in circular movements, helping to promote relaxation and loosen any built-up tension within the muscles.

Technique #5: Vibration

Vibration is the final component of a well performed Swedish massage and is achieved by applying trembling or rocking motions throughout the client’s body. This movement is thought to be effective in breaking up any trapped holding patterns in the muscles which may be detrimental to the client’s posture or mobility. Vibration is also an effective way to loosen any trapped tension or negative energy within the client’s body.

Other Techniques Utilized in Deep Tissue Massage

While the Swedish technique is one of the most often requested techniques during a therapy session, massage therapists may choose to utilize a deeper tissue technique featuring a variety of other purposeful movements and manipulations, such as cross fiber friction, active release technique, trigger point therapy and myofascial release.

Technique #6: Cross Fiber Friction

This deep tissue massage therapy technique is often used for clients who are healing from serious injuries. While scar tissue is necessary to repair the fibers and muscles around the site of injury, it can become tough and restrict movement and functionality, if it is not pliable. Cross fiber friction works towards reducing fibrosis and promoting pliability and flexibility. This technique is performed by administering a non-oiled stroke across the site of injury to create friction against the muscle, tendon, or ligament.

Technique #7: Active Release Technique

This manually performed therapeutic technique is another effective way to promote the healing of rigid or restrictive scar tissue through the application of deep pressure onto the site of tenderness, while the muscles repeatedly loosen and constrict at the site of injury. This technique is great for those who have sustained repetitive muscle injuries, as well as cumulative injuries.

Technique #8: Trigger Point Therapy

Manually applied trigger point therapeutic techniques are another feature of deep tissue massage. This is achieved by first locating the spot of tension or tightness through manual manipulation, and then using one’s fingers to press firmly into the targeted area. By repeating this movement several times, the tightened muscle becomes loose and less rigid, relieving pain and releasing any built-up tension.

Technique #9: Myofascial Massage

Often thought of as one of the most effective deep massage therapy techniques, myofascial massage involves the use of knuckles and closed fists to cause tension to release from various points in the body. While this technique may cause some soreness immediately after, myofascial massage is one of the most effective ways to combat long term pain and bothersome symptoms associated with traumatic injuries.

How Do You Learn the Different Massage Techniques?

Those interested in learning more about massage techniques and starting a career as a professional massage therapists can enroll in a massage therapy program and work towards earning a diploma. This program will provide the training and education needed to enjoy a career in this field.

What are the Benefits of a Massage Therapy Diploma Program?

While enrolled in a massage therapy program, students will receive hands-on training and instruction in a student run massage spa setting, which is overseen by knowledgeable professionals with meaningful and relevant career experience. Students will also learn a variety of massage techniques in addition to Swedish and deep tissue. They will have time to learn all the skills necessary to work in a variety of professional settings and will form meaningful bonds and friendships with other likeminded professionals.

Final Thoughts

Those who are considering a new career path should consider training for a career in the massage therapy industry. Professional massage therapists enjoy a dynamic workplace environment, flexible work hours, the opportunity to open their own practice, engage in meaningful networking with other professionals, and a fulfilling career in making a positive difference in the lives of their clients. Take the first step and learn more about the massage therapy program at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Start your journey toward a rewarding career in massage therapy.

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.

Is Deep Tissue Massage Right For You?

Massage client receiving deep tissue massage

Interested in becoming a massage therapist? Most of us understand the basic concepts of massage but need more education to understand the details and distinctions. An education as a massage therapist protects both the massage therapist, as well as their clients. As a massage therapist, you will need to learn different techniques and one of these techniques is deep tissue massage. But what is deep tissue massage?

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Classic forms of massage therapy tend to focus on comfort and relaxation. Deep tissue massage is more centrally focused on correction and rehabilitation than creating a comfortable, soothing experience. The firm pressure applied during a deep tissue massage helps guide the realignment of the deeper layers of muscle and assist in undoing any of the connective tissue that may be knotted along those muscles.

Who Should Get a Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage repairs a minor muscular injury or to combat chronic pain and discomfort. As a massage therapist, these are some of the reasons your client’s may want a deep tissue massage.

The Client’s Career or Lifestyle

Athletic work has a high impact on nearly every muscle of the body. Whether your client does it for fun or as a career, a regular deep tissue appointment may be in order. Manual labor and heavy lifting work can also create muscle knotting and tissue binding, even if it is just simple home repairs.

Your client can also sustain muscle and tissue injury from working with young children. Lifting and caring for children requires a lot of muscle exertion that can wear down their body quicker than they may expect. If your client has a physically high-impact career or lead an active lifestyle this kind of deep massage might be something that they want to think about.

A Condition or Ailment

While deep tissue massage appointments are typically made in response to an injury, they can also be part of an on-going care plan. Some injuries leave your clients with chronic pain and discomfort that disrupts their life and requires attention.

People will sometimes try to avoid using prescription medication by opting to deal with their on-going pain in a different, more holistic way. There are also medical issues and conditions that may also benefit from occasional or regular deep tissue massages. Those who suffer the symptoms of fibromyalgia have reported feeling relief from frequent deep tissue massages. Sciatica trouble, plantar fasciitis, and tennis elbow can also be relieved in many instances.

What are the Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage?

With all this talk about impact and injury, it is important for your client to remember that all the discomfort ultimately leads to their body feeling better. Here are some of the benefits to keep in mind if your client is still a bit skeptical of deep tissue massages.

Increased Comfort/Quality of Life

The appointment itself may be uncomfortable at certain points. However, it is the way the body feels after the appointment that should be the focus. This kind of massage helps your client achieve long lasting results and relief. So, while it may be initially uncomfortable, the benefits will long outlast the discomfort needed to achieve them.


Stimulating the deeper layers of muscle and multiple types of tissues can release toxins that can build up in knots from stress and pain. Allowing these toxins to build up without ever expressing or releasing them can have serious effects on your client’s general health. Manual stimulation is an efficient way to clear the toxins that dietary cleanses and healthy living can sometimes miss.


When your client’s muscles have been un-knotted and their tissues has been unbound, it only makes sense that it would then be far easier for your client to move. This greater control over your client’s dexterity and mobility will allow them to accomplish tasks with much more comfort, efficiency and ease. Their flexibility will also likely allow them to extend their body’s capabilities.

What can I Expect from a Deep Tissue Massage Appointment?

If your client is brand new to the concept of the deep tissue massage, or even if they are unfamiliar with massage therapy in general, they might be wondering what they would be able to reasonably expect from a deep tissue massage appointment. Here is a basic guide on what to expect if your client decides it is something they want to try.


In any facet of massage therapy, a client can reasonably expect their massage therapist to be 100% professional throughout the appointment. This is not to say that the massage therapist won’t be friendly. However, a client can expect that all personal boundaries will be maintained and that their comfort and safety are always considered.


Many people wonder if they must remove all their clothing before/during a massage therapy appointment. Your client may even be wondering they are asked to be naked in the first place. It has to do with accessibility and cleanliness. While many clients seeking a deep tissue massage can wear attire that allows accesses to the affected or ailing area, there are many instances that may require more access to a wider range of body areas. That is why it is important to understand why and when clothing removal may be necessary.


Most techniques require a fair amount of lubrication for the pressures and movements to be properly and safely applied. Removing clothing before the appointment helps to avoid ruining a client’s clothing with oils and other lubricants during the massage and allows the massage therapist to devote their concentration to their technique.

Massage Transitions

Having a client remove their clothing also allows for access to all areas of the body affected and allows for seamless transition from one to the other. Clients are covered with a sheet during the massage and you will lift the sheet covering the area that needs attention. Then, once you finish, you will replace the sheet and lift it over the next area that needs work.


The atmosphere for a deep tissue massage can range from a serene spa to a more clinical facility. It all depends on what it is the client is looking for. It will likely depend on whether your client is doing this as part of a short-term physical rehabilitation or chronic treatment. The client may also decide to book an appointment with an independent massage therapist that can travel to their home.


There is a lot of apprehension around deep tissue massage. While it is hailed by many as being a key part of wellness, it is also often associated with pain and discomfort. The appointment itself will likely be uncomfortable and may be painful during certain techniques. Your client can expect that you will use your fingers and palms as with other methods, but you will also maximize forceful pressure on problem areas by using your forearms and elbows.

Pressure Changes

That kind of intense pressure can create symptoms such as mild nausea or light, temporary dizziness. Your client may also instinctively tense up in response to that kind of intrusive stimulus. It is a natural reaction to resist pain. However, that kind of tension can make it more difficult for you to reach binding spots and muscle knots.

What Skills Do I Will Need to Practice Deep Tissue Massage?

Becoming a massage therapist encompasses more techniques than just deep tissue alone. However, you may choose to advertise a specialty in deep tissue massage. You may also find that there is simply a market for deep tissue massage in your area. Whatever the case may be here are some of the things you’ll need for a long, successful career as a deep tissue massage therapist.

Vocational Training

The first step in achieving your goal of becoming a massage therapist is being trained and certified. The programs and instructors you choose for your education will help guide you through the obstacles of a massage therapy career.

Patience and People Skills

If you are hoping to make deep tissue massage a specialty you will likely be dealing with clients who are suffering. They may be temperamental, emotional, or generally coarse. Being their guide out of their miserable discomfort means having patience and sympathy for the pain they are feeling. You should be able to comfortably communicate with all kinds of different people and assist them in their pain management at the same time.

Functional Understanding of Body Movement

You can expect to receive basic anatomical training through your vocational program. Exercising and deepening that understanding will allow you to better help your clients. In most cases muscular, tissue and skeletal movement all play a role in both injury and recovery from injury. This information is specifically important to deep tissue massage work.


Deep tissue massage should not be approached as a career choice simply because it can be lucrative. If you are considering specializing in this specific method, it should be as much about helping people feel better in their own bodies as it is about paying the bills. Your compassion and knowledge will guide you in assisting your clients to the greatest degree possible.

Dedication to Education

Getting your certification is just the beginning. Once you are properly trained and officially licensed you will need to stay current in your field. This means a continuous education about new developments and discoveries both independently and formally. Fortifying your training with additional education will help you provide the best service available to all of you clients and can help set you apart from the competition in your field.

Want to Learn More?

Did this information about deep tissue massage interest you? 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 with full time enrollment. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients 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.