Sports massage was designed for athletes, but is useful for anyone with chronic pain, injury or range-of-motion issues.
Sports massage was originally developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons.
But you don't have to be in the Olympics to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage is also good for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion. The massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area. (Sore neck and shoulders, anyone?) This is the type of sports massage that you see in the spa.
Sports massage is a type of Swedish massage that stimulates circulation of blood and lymph fluids. Some sports massage movements use trigger point therapy to break down adhesions (knots in the muscles) and increase range of motion.
* rehabilitative sports massage -- aimed at alleviating pain due to injury and returning the body to health.
A sports massage is a good choice if you have a specific problem -- a tender knee from running, for instance. It is also be a good idea to see a movement therapist, who can help you identify and correct the movement pattern that might be causing your injury in the first place.
The therapist generally focuses in on the problem area -- a frozen shoulder or pulled hamstring, for instance -- rather than giving you a thorough full-body massage.