A lot of clients ask me if it’s normal for their muscles to feel sore after sports massage treatment, with some clients using the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ to justify why sports massage NEEDS to be painful. I have even joked with clients that I should offer gas and air as part of my service!
So does sports massage HAVE to be uncomfortable for it to work? I often talk about ‘good pain’ and ‘bad pain’ with clients. Good pain being slightly uncomfortable soreness during treatment, bad pain being so painful that you need to tense all your muscles to try to block out the pain. This is where talking with your therapist is so important, as everyone’s pain threshold is different. If you’re having to grit your teeth and tense your muscles to get through the treatment, the pressure is too much. By tensing your muscles, the sports massage is not as effective as it should be, as the muscle is effectively blocking out the treatment. With good pain, however, comes a slightly uncomfortable, but bearable, sensation in the muscle that is being worked on. This amount of pressure is the most effective, as the muscles are able to stay relaxed and allow the therapist to break down any knots and adhesions.
In terms of how you should feel after a sports massage is individual. Some people will feel amazing as soon as they step off the couch, with looser, more flexible muscles and any muscular pain felt before the treatment gone. Some people, however, will experience muscle soreness for up to 48 hours after and slight bruising. This is often the case with those who have long standing muscular issues that require more than one treatment to feel vast improvements.
So, in summary, discuss pressure with your therapist throughout the treatment and book regular massages (ideally once a week, at least once a month) in order to feel amazing immediately after your sports massage!