Recovery: Massage

There is a long history of using massage to aid recovery in high performance sport

Its main purpose is to assist in reducing residual training fatigue and stress so that you start a new training session in as fresh a state as possible. It can also be helpful in a preventative way, by reducing localised muscle tension that can, with time, lead to an overuse-type injury.

Following competitions, heavy training periods or travel, massage can be particularly helpful.

The complex mechanisms by which massage impacts on the recovery process have still to be fully researched and understood, particularly the physiological ones. There is evidence of massage leading to improved mood states and feelings of well-being that help physical and psychological relaxation and recovery.

Some specific benefits of massage are:

  • Decreased sensations of fatigue and muscle soreness
  • Calming the nervous system
  • Encouraging effective sleep
  • Reducing muscle tension and normalising muscle tone
  • Identifying soft tissue under stress and potential trouble areas

The types of massage techniques delivered will vary depending on whether the athlete is in training or competition as wrongly applied massage can interfere with performance during competition.

If you are an institute-supported athlete, it is important to use approved sportscotland institute of sport network massage practitioners who are experienced in sports massage and are able to apply the appropriate type of massage in different training or competition phases. Sports massage must be authorised by the physiotherapist whose care you are under. 

Key points

  • The appropriate technique for the circumstance is vital
  • Prior approval has to be obtained for massage
  • Keep note of what timing delay works best for you in your different training and competition phases

This is an extract from our 2013 Recovery Booklet. Read the entire document, with references and further reading, on our website:

Date published: 28 June 2023
Date updated: 28 June 2023


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