PRO Sports Massage Santa Barbara








PRO Sports massage is focused and systematic, targeting muscles that are used in a specific sport. It uses various techniques to decrease muscle pain and improve recovery, as well as improve overall range of motion and flexibility to support safe and effective movement.

At Pro Sports Massage Santa Barbara, I can assist with training, rehabilitation, and pre-post-performance goals. While often sought by elite and amateur athletes, sports massage can also be beneficial for anyone who regularly exercises.

What Is Sports Massage?

Various movements and techniques are used to try to help an athlete’s body achieve maximum performance and physical conditioning, with a decreased chance of injury or pain and a quicker recovery.

A sports massage session is specifically tailored to an individual’s needs. Some elements of sports massage are used in other physical therapy settings and to treat conditions outside of sports, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Examples of techniques used in sports massage include:

  • Swedish style massage
  • Effleurage (stroking)
  • Petrissage (kneading)
  • Compression
  • Friction
  • Tapotement (rhythmic striking)
  • Vibration
  • Gliding
  • Stretching
  • Percussion
  • Trigger points

Deep Tissue Massage vs. Sports Massage

Deep tissue massage relies on similar sports massage techniques, such as effleurage, but often is used as a firm-pressure massage of the whole body rather than a specific site. However, it may be more focused when used to treat neck or chronic lower back pain,1 or for pain management during labor and delivery.


Sports Massage Benefits

Many sports massage benefits have been reported on the basis of experience and observation alone. These include:

  • Increased joint range of motion (ROM)
  • Increased flexibility
  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Decreased neurological excitability (nerves more relaxed)
  • Decreased muscle spasms
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Decreased anxiety and improved mood
  • Better sleep

Purported benefits for which there is limited research evidence include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Increased elimination of exercise waste products (lactic acid)
  • Decreased chance of injury
  • Decreased recovery time between workouts


Limits of Sports Massage

Some studies have shown a modest benefit in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).3 Others demonstrate a benefit in reducing lactic acid buildup in muscles when sports massage is used in combination with cold water immersion after exercise.4

Additional research has focused on the benefits associated with active and passive recovery, with some evidence that passive recovery may be the superior approach.5

On balance, study findings on sports massage indicate that while it does not negatively affect performance, its benefits are not quite as clear.

More research is needed on the positive effects of sports massage.


Side Effects of Sports Massage

For the most part, sports massage is safe with very few side effects.

Potential side effects of sports massage include tenderness or stiffness for one to two days after a therapy session.

It’s also possible that you could have a skin reaction to the massage oils used.

How Painful Is a Sports Massage?

You may feel some discomfort during or after a sports massage, but it should not cause significant pain. If you feel pain beyond what some call “the good kind of hurt,” tell your therapist right away.



Sports massage is a specialized form of massage therapy that focuses on enhancing athletic performance, promoting recovery, and preventing injuries. It involves the manipulation of soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, using various techniques to address the specific needs of athletes and individuals engaged in regular physical activity. Here’s an in-depth discussion of the science and research behind the benefits of sports massage:

1. Enhanced Athletic Performance:

  • Increased Range of Motion (ROM): Sports massage has been shown to increase flexibility and ROM, allowing athletes to move more freely and efficiently.
  • Improved Muscle Function: Research suggests that sports massage can enhance muscle function by increasing blood flow, reducing muscle tension, and improving tissue elasticity.

2. Recovery and Rehabilitation:

  • Reduced Muscle Soreness: Sports massage can alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness following intense physical activity, facilitating quicker recovery.
  • Faster Recovery from Injury: Studies indicate that sports massage can accelerate the healing process by promoting blood flow, reducing inflammation, and breaking down scar tissue.

3. Injury Prevention:

  • Improved Circulation: Sports massage promotes blood circulation, which helps deliver nutrients to muscles and removes metabolic waste products, reducing the risk of injury.
  • Enhanced Muscle Balance: By addressing muscle imbalances and tension, sports massage can help prevent overuse injuries and optimize biomechanical efficiency.

4. Psychological Benefits:

  • Stress Reduction: Sports massage has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, while increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.
  • Improved Mental Focus: Athletes often report improved concentration and mental clarity following sports massage sessions, which can positively impact performance.

5. Research and Evidence:

  • A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that sports massage significantly reduced muscle soreness and improved perceived recovery in athletes after intense exercise.
  • Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that sports massage helped increase hip-flexion ROM, indicating improved flexibility and range of motion.
  • A systematic review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that sports massage can be an effective strategy for enhancing athletic performance and reducing the risk of injury.

6. Techniques Used in Sports Massage:

  • Effleurage: Long, gliding strokes to warm up muscles and increase blood flow.
  • Petrissage: Kneading and compression techniques to release muscle tension and improve flexibility.
  • Friction: Deep, targeted pressure applied across the grain of the muscle fibers to break down adhesions and scar tissue.
  • Trigger Point Therapy: Applying pressure to specific points to alleviate pain and release muscle knots.

7. When to Use Sports Massage:

  • Pre-Event: A light, stimulating massage to warm up muscles and prepare the body for athletic activity.
  • Post-Event: A more intense massage to aid in recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and promote relaxation.
  • Maintenance: Regular sports massage can help prevent injuries, maintain optimal muscle function, and improve overall athletic performance.


Sports massage is a valuable tool for athletes and physically active individuals, offering a wide range of benefits including enhanced performance, accelerated recovery, injury prevention, and improved psychological well-being. Supported by scientific research and used in conjunction with other training and recovery modalities, sports massage can play a crucial role in maximizing athletic potential and overall health and well-being.



Therapeutic Deep Tissue, Swedish Massage, Sports Injury Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca.

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the reader’s sole responsibility. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.