Sports Massage and Soft Tissue FAQ’S

Sports Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy FAQ’S

What is Soft Tissue Therapy?

It is advanced “Sports Massage” and more, much more. It is a manual, hands on treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal pain and injury. Through the use of deep tissue massage, manual techniques and some stretches or exercises, it can improve:

– blood flow (for healing and flushing),
– pain management
– range of motion

Additionally, dry needling, taping, mobilisation cupping or taping can also be used where appropriate. Remedial exercises and advice may be given to enhance recovery, prevent injury, improve posture, function and mobility. Just like the rest of the JSSC Team, our Soft Tissue Therapists will aim to understand your needs and help them achieve their goals – whether it be injury rehabilitation, injury prevention or even preparation. The treatment will be individualised according to your needs.

Why would I need a sports massage or soft tissue therapy?

For Maintenance: Individuals who regularly take exercise and athletes such as runners, cyclists, rowers, swimmers, kayakers, footballers, rugby players etc who want to keep their body in top condition. Sports massage can help with range of motion and muscle tightness and soreness and it can help improve performance, prevent injury, and help prepare for events. Office workers or people sitting at a desk, labourers carrying heavy tools, operating machinery, laying bricks, painting ceilings, chopping vegetables etc… – all aspects of any “day job” can influence posture and aches and pains. Soft tissue therapy or sports massage can be great for helping that sore neck, tired legs, aching back etc before it turns into a chronic injury.

For Injuries: As with any injury, its best to get in touch with us as soon as possible. We can decide if it is better to see one of our Physiotherapists for a more indepth assessment or to see our Soft Tissue Therapist. If the injury is sub-acute (post 3 days) or chronic (3 months +) then sports massage and soft tissue therapy can be a beneficial way of complementing your physiotherapy rehabilitation. Hands on therapy improves mobility and improves movement patterns, reduces stiffness, improves blood flow which can encourage healing whilst flushing debris. We use additional hands-on techniques to assist with this. Soft Tissue Therapy works well alongside physiotherapy or strength and conditioning work, so is a complementary treatment.

Specific Conditions That benefit from Soft Tissue Therapy: Sports massage and soft tissue therapy can add value to physiotherapy treatment for tendinopathy particularly Achilles, gluteal and patellar. It can also support recovery from frozen shoulder, shoulder impingements, disc bulges etc, nonspecific low back pain and tight upper traps / shoulders are regularly and successfully treated conditions. Muscular strains (such as calf tears, pulled quads, pulled back etc) and ligament sprains as well as muscle tightness respond well too.

Specific Conditions That benefit from Soft Tissue Therapy:

Sports massage and soft tissue therapy can add value to physiotherapy treatment for tendinopathy particularly Achilles, gluteal and patellar. It can also support recovery from frozen shoulder, shoulder impingements, disc bulges etc, nonspecific low back pain and tight upper traps / shoulders are regularly and successfully treated conditions.

Muscular strains (such as calf tears, pulled quads, pulled back etc) and ligament sprains as well as muscle tightness respond well too.

What does the appointment involve?

The Initial Consultation will involve a full soft tissue assessment; we will begin with the current injury and link to previous injuries. We will outline your past medical history, past injuries / operations. Then we will ascertain your goals. We will then carry out a physical assessment of the area. Together, we will devise a treatment plan. Depending upon our findings, we may recommend that you see one of the physiotherapists where the injury is more complex. More often than not, your treatment will commence on the first appointment.

This will likely involve deep tissue massage and remedial massage along with some advanced manual soft tissue techniques. Some treatments may also include the use of kinesiology taping (e.g. RockTape, Tiger Tape) and mobility cups at the therapist’s discretion.

What’s the difference between a soft tissue therapist and a sports massage therapist?

This is a great question and one that we are asked regularly. A Soft Tissue Therapist is more highly qualified than a general sports massage therapist. Historically, any level of qualification was classified as “sports massage” (whether it be a weekend crash course or a 1-year BTEC course). Knowing the spectrum of qualifications and experience yet having the same title, led to confusion for clients. And so, soft tissue therapy was developed. It guarantees advanced levels of treatment and sound clinical reasoning within the scope of practice of a Soft Tissue Therapist. It is managed by a professional body that requires yearly minimum CPD (Continuous Professional Development).

The deep tissue massage is a key component of the treatment, however with soft tissue therapy you can be confident that the therapist will individually tailor a high-quality massage and treatment rather than just a “rub down of the hurty bit” with sound clinical understanding at a much deeper level in order to get profound results that will bring you towards your goals.

Why would I benefit from a sports massage or soft tissue therapy?

– Improved physical performance
– Reduced pain
– Increased mobility
– Reduced healing time from injury
– May help prevent injury
– Reduced stiffness
– Improved blood flow – help with recovery
– Improved lymphatic flow and assist in the removal of metabolic waste
– Increase or decrease muscle tone or muscle length
– It feels good!

Can I ask for a sports massage and nothing else?

Yes of course – assuming you mean “deep tissue” massage and no other techniques. However, if there are other techniques that could be utilised to have a more beneficial effect, it will be discussed with you so that your recovery may be maximised.

Can I ask for a relaxing massage?

A sports massage is not usually a “relaxing” massage, however if that is one of your goals then we will see what we can do! Stress definitely doesn’t help musculo-skeletal issues so, if you need to relax we will try our best!

How often should I come and see you?

It depends on the severity, but usually with a new injury, we would recommend weekly for the first 2 – 3 weeks, then extend the interval such as fortnightly, and finally, every 4 weeks.

Where maintenance is required, treatments every 6-8 weeks is advised. As always, it depends on the person and the injury or requirement. If you are undergoing physiotherapy, your physiotherapist may recommend a different schedule and we will all work together to help you achieve your goals. How often should I come if I am training hard for my next race or marathon Usually, we would recommend weekly or bi-weekly.

Bruising: Will I bruise? If I bruise, should I be concerned?

Usually, clients should not bruise. If you do, it is the body’s response to a micro trauma and the colours you see are the bi-products of the healing process. However, the tissues are warmed up thoroughly before working deeper into the underlying fascia. During our treatment session, we will constantly monitor the tissues and your pain levels. We will always work within a certain threshold that is comfortable for you. For those who are on certain medications or mature people who are more susceptible to bruising, the sports massage would therefore be tailored. In general, bruising is not a “normal” part of treatment.

I have EDS (hypermobility) and bruise easily can you adjust your treatment for me? Yes of course. Disclosing this to us is really important as we must tailor the treatment. You will know that hEDS means you could bruise more easily, so the level of depth in treatment would be adjusted. Instead, a focus on strength exercises is key and so a possible referral to one of our Physiotherapists or strength and conditioning coaches may be made to compliment the treatment. As dizziness is a known side effect of hEDS, plenty of time at the end of the treatment would be allowed.


Will a session with a Soft Tissue Therapist mean I can’t train later today? Not always. If the training session is light, and the treatment given was not intense, it would be ok to train same day. If you want to train after a treatment, it is essential the therapist knows this in advance. Usually, we recommend no training on the same day after a treatment. Otherwise, there could be a higher risk of injury/pain and DOMS the next day.

Do I need to rest after a Soft Tissue Therapy session?

Active rest ideally – but continue as normal – keeping moving is ideal but just avoid any heavy weights or intense cardio sessions that day. Will I be sore after a soft tissue therapy or sports massage session? Possibly. Patients can often “feel” they have had a treatment the following day. It should not be inhibiting to daily activity and by the following day all should be well, and the true benefits of the treatment should be felt.

Will soft tissue therapy flare up my long-standing pain condition?

This is a difficult question to answer. Some chronic conditions (such as back or neck pain) can mean that the area is more sensitive to touch. As such, your response to treatment may be different. If the pain is an injury, sometimes it can feel worse before it gets better due to the treatment. So, it is worth bearing this in mind before treatment. If it is a medical condition, then we would need to know the diagnosis and medications etc. Often for those with conditions such as ME or MS for example, soft tissue therapy and sports massage can be greatly beneficial, and as expected, treatment would be altered to suit the individual’s needs.

What should I wear?

It is advised to wear clothes that are easy to pull up or remove. Shorts and t-shirts are ideal. For ladies, if there is any treatment needed on the back, ideally wear a fastening bra rather than a sports-type bra.

If you have any allergies, please let us know before the appointment. In particular, any nut allergies are important to disclose as some of the lotions and waxes used have an almond oil base.

What is (mobilisation) cupping?

Myofascial Cupping has been around since the early 19th century – only recently (last 5 – 10 years) has the image of purple circles on professional athlete’s backs created attention to it (Remember MichaelPhelps at the London Olympics?). The cups and techniques have changed over time, but the basic premise of the cups providing suction to decompress the underlying tissue remains the same. They allow you to grab, pull and push fascia to treat pain, mobility and movement dysfunctions to (hopefully) deliver superior patient outcomes, often getting the patient to move with the cups on (unlike more “traditional” methods).

A key point to note is that the purple marks often left behind are not the result of soft tissue damage or trauma –i.e., a bruise. The discolouration is the same bodily response to a bruise which is healing and phagocytosis. The haemoglobin degrades from blue/purple to biliverdin (greenish), bilirubin (yellow) and haemosiderin (gold/brown). As these are cleared from the area the “bruise” or discolouration disappears.

Depending on the intensity and the individual body’s response, it can take between 3 and 7 days to fully clear. If by chance you are going to a special function the week after this treatment, please let us know! Not everyone marks up, and some people discolour more than others. Mobilisation cupping uses medical grade silicone. It is not specific acupressure cupping, and it does not involve fire (using the herb Moxa) or blood extraction.

Again, this is a part of a treatment and not the entire treatment. The results from mobilisation cupping have been positive in our clinic, with many patients reporting quicker recovery times, immediate relief and enhanced mobility after use. We are committed to help you recover in the fastest time possible and to make a full recovery. If you are not making the anticipated improvements, we may recommend that you see one of our physiotherapists for a more in-depth assessment.

Our Mission

We are a team of highly experienced Chartered Physiotherapists; professionals who will treat you with honesty, integrity and respect, each and every time you see us.

As a team, we offer an extensive breadth and depth of expertise and experience. We will work in partnership with you. We want to foster long term relationships with you, your GP, Consultants, employers, coaches or trainers, giving you the best holistic, joined up care. Together we will help you to maximise your potential, performance and wellbeing to help you achieve your goals.


Firstly a huge thankyou to you and the team for keeping me together and in one piece for yet another year. I went up to the Lake District last weekend to attempt the Lakeland 100 ultra marathon again. As you know I was still on crutches back in November post my op on my hip. In JanuaryFebruary you wisely put me onto the couch to 5K program to build me back up. Although not done with any style and I was at the very back of the field with my slowest time ever, I'm pleased to say I completed Lakeland 100 within the cut off time. I can now claim that with the support of the JSSC I have completed the couch to 170k. I came out of it reasonably unscathed having very few problems with my hip or my knee. Thanks again for all your support and help. Without your help I wouldn't even have got to the start line let alone completed an event that had c.45% drop out rate this year

Simon Todd

I would like offer you my thanks for all your help and support during my recovery from injury.

Lloyd Mourant