Sports Massage

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This continuing education course is a nice review of sports massage.  The purpose of sports massage is to help athletes prepare for optimal performance, recover from big events, and function well while training. Since sports massage involves the therapist concentrating on one particular problem area for the duration of the treatment, it is also useful for chronic pain sufferers, those recovering from injuries, or those with limited range of motion. It is a form of Swedish massage that involves stimulation of blood and lymph circulation, as well as trigger point therapy.

Sports Massage Course Outline (4 CEUs):
  • Chapter One: Introduction

Sporting events are hugely popular around the world, and athletes must do everything they can to get and maintain an edge over the competition. Sports massage is one method of doing so. The definition of sports massage is “systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body that focuses on muscles relevant to a particular sport.”i

  • Chapter Two: When to Use Sports Massage

While sports massage is certainly useful after an injury, it is best used before an injury ever takes place. For example, Lance Armstrong used sports massage during the Tour de France to loosen his leg muscles to help prevent injury and optimize his performance.ii

  • Chapter Three: Common Injuries and Neck Injuries

Some injuries are more common in specific sports (such as tennis elbow), but there are a handful that can be found across the sporting world. Athletes from a variety of backgrounds suffer from these injuries.

  • Chapter Four: Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis or epitrochlear bursitis. Roughly defined, tennis elbow is “inflammation, soreness, or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow.”iii It is usually caused by overworked or improperly used tendons in the elbow.iv The symptoms may come from a tear in the fibers of the tendon that connect muscle to the epicondyle bone of the elbow.v

  • Chapter Five: Lower Back Injuries

Injuries to the sacroiliac joints can cause lower back pain (one of the most common complaints from athletes), inflammation and Another common injury in athletes is a slipped (or herniated) disc. Discs are sacs of gelatinous material known as nucleus pulposus that are positioned between the bony vertebrae of the spine.vii Other common injuries and more uncommon injuries are also covered in this chapter.

  • Chapter Six: Common Injuries of the Hips and Groin

One hard to diagnose cause of groin pain in an athlete is a sports hernia. This is not a true hernia where internal tissue juts through a hold in the abdominal muscles.viii Another common injury is a groin strain. A groin strain is a “tear or rupture to any one of the adductor muscles...[which are] the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus...gracilis and adductor magnus.”ix Another injury covered in this chapter is something known as snapping hip.

  • Chapter Seven: Common Knee Injuries

Some examples of common knee injuries covered in this chapter are runner’s knee and ACL injury. Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain, occurs when the kneecap “irritates the femoral groove in which it rests high on the thighbone (femur).”x The ACL is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, and it is torn in almost 70 percent of severe knee injuries.xi This ligament connects the femur to the tibia (shin).xii Athletes who experience this injury usually get it from sudden knee twisting (such as during a tackle), a quick change in direction, or a fall.xiii This chapter also includes some other knee injuries that can occur.

  • Chapter Eight: Common Lower Leg Injuries

The injuries covered in this chapter include sprained ankles and shin splits. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments of the ankle are painfully stretched or torn, and it is a common injury in almost every sport.xiv Shin splints are also known as tibial stress syndrome, and is common in runners (and account for 13 percent of runners’ injuries), cyclists, and other athletes that train too hard.xv

  • Chapter Nine: Sports Massage Techniques

Sports massage does involve all the same techniques as a regular massage. It is more focused, less relaxing, more dynamic, and often involves firmer pressure and higher intensity.xvi Some describe it as a combination of shiatsu and Swedish massage techniques.xvii Another thing that makes sports massage different is the atmosphere- it is often performed in the locker room or field-side, and can be done while the athlete is still wearing clothes.

  • Chapter Ten: Categories of Sports Massage

The categories of sports massage covered in this chapter are pre-event, post-event and maintenance massage. Pre-event sports massage is designed to loosen up an athlete before a competition. Post event massage involves concentrating on the muscles the athlete used during the competition to flush out the lactic acid. Maintenance massage is based on the specific goals of the athlete and the sport in which the athlete participates. All of these are explained in-depth within the chapter.

  • Chapter Eleven: Contraindications

There are some instances where sports massage is inappropriate or can do actual harm to an athlete. Always assess the athlete for contraindications before deciding on a course of treatment or providing the massage. An example of a contraindication are a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.xviii




i Terence Vanderheiden,, “Sports Massage- What Are the Benefits of Sports Massage,” April 25, 2008,


ii Brent Manley and Lucia Colbert, “The Effective Use of Massage Therapy,”


iii PubMed Health, “Tennis Elbow,” May 9, 2011,


iv Mayo Clinic, “Tennis Elbow,”


v PubMed Health


vi Andrew L. Sherman, Medscape, “Sacroiliac Joint Injury,”


vii Sports Injury Clinic, “Sciatica/Slipped Disc/ Prolapsed disc,”


viii Scott Karr, SportsMD, “Sports Hernia and Athletic Pubalgia,” March 28, 2011,


ix Sports Injury Clinic, “Groin Strain,”


x Men’s Health, “Runner’s Knee,” April 29, 2005,


xi The Stretching Institute, “ACL Injury and ACL Tear,”


xii Ibid.


xiii Ibid.


xiv Sports Injury Clinic, “Sprained Ankle,”


xv WebMD, “Shin Splints (Tibial Stress Syndrome),”


xvi Bodyworks Massage and Laser Therapy, “Sports Massage Therapy,”


xvii Aloha Massage School, “Sports Massage,”


xviii Mackenzie, B. “Sports Massage,” 2000,


Continuing education units (CEUs) are provided via electronic download in PDF format. Review the course work at your own pace and then take the included test online. You can print your certificate immediately after passing each test! All coursework is NCBTMB approved (NCBTMB # 451897-12). NOTE: Each state has different requirements. Please be sure to check our state requirements page and contact your state to verify your requirements.