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Sports Therapy or Sports Massage; What is the difference?

Sports Massage Andover

I often get asked “What is the difference between Sports Therapy and a Massage Therapist?”. There is certainly a crossover between both practices as they mutually help to rectify, support, and maintain the musculoskeletal (MSK) system; so, it is not surprising that many people get confused. That being said, there is also a large difference between the two!

Let’s start with Sports Massage.

Sports massage is a type of hands-on therapy, involving the manipulation of soft tissues to relieve tension, pain, or tightness in muscles or connective tissues; usually coupled with advice on how to ease causative factors. For this reason, it is often used to prevent soft-tissue injury, reduce pain and swelling, and enhance recovery, movement, and performance. Typically, a Sports Massage Therapist must complete a qualification; usually taking 6months to gain a level 3-4 certificate or diploma, most commonly an ITEC (Level 3 RQF) Diploma.

So, how is Sports Therapy different?

Whilst both therapies share aims of relieving pain, restoring, maintaining, and maximising performance and quality of life; sports massage is a single element of Sports Therapy. Massage is applied alongside a multitude of other advanced manual therapy techniques, electrotherapy, advanced trauma care, taping, tailored rehabilitation and education.

Graduate Sports Therapists must complete an intensive 3–4 year degree (BSc), allowing them to become highly educated experts in MSK conditions. Many of these courses are accredited by the Society of Sports Therapists, permitting membership to the governing body upon graduation – an asset that I hold as the resident Sports Therapist at Back in Shape!

As the name states, a Sports Therapist tends to have a larger exposure to sporting environments so are inclined to focus on treating or preventing sports injuries; but it’s important to not forget that they have vast knowledge in work-related and every-day injuries too!

If you’d like to know more about sports therapy at Back in Shape click here.

Stay well, 


Cydney Barlow
    5 Wooler Park, North Way, Walworth Industrial Estate, Andover, Hampshire SP10 5AZ
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