PRO Sports Massage Downtown Santa Barbara

Being an athlete all my life and all the injuries, and surgeries that I’ve had, I can say without a doubt that massage has kept me upright and moving forward.

My office is conveniently located in downtown Santa Barbara at 827 State St. Suite 20.



Getting a sports massage is an easy way to help lessen and ward off any aches and pains – whether you’re a competitive or recreational runner. While the scientific benefits and effectiveness of sports massages – such as a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), reduced stress, improved sleep, and flexibility, remain up for debate (plenty of scientific reviews say massages have no effect on sporting performance and recovery, while others say they can help to increase flexibility and DOMS), if getting a sports massage makes you feel better and able to train, then it certainly isn’t doing any harm.


Why should runners get a sports massage?

‘Sports massage is just one component in a comprehensive plan around running,’ says Penny. ‘This includes an appropriate strength program, mobility work, active rest, nutrition, and hydration alongside a tailored running schedule.’

What are the benefits of getting a sports massage?

1. Improved muscle recovery

‘Running places significant stress on the muscles, leading to micro-tears and the accumulation of metabolic waste products. Sports massage can help reduce muscle soreness and increase blood and lymphatic circulation promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients involved in repair,’ says Penny.

2. It can help prevent injury

‘Regular sports massages can help to identify potential areas of tension or weakness within the musculoskeletal complex (muscles, tendons and ligaments). Addressing these early on can assist in preventing the development of an injury and also assist with improving muscle mechanics,’ she says.

3. Enhanced performance

In a 2016 study that looked at the benefits of massage on the performance of bodybuilders, researchers concluded that sports massage may impact performance in situations where sports massage is given at the point of muscle fatigue, almost acting as a recovery technique.

‘Improved muscle repair can have an effect on better running efficiency, increased stride length, and improved running economy. And that then translates to better race times and overall performance,’ adds Penny.

Does a sports massage hurt?

‘Sports massage can vary in intensity with the level of discomfort experienced: it can depend on an individual’s pain tolerance; the specific techniques and the areas being treated. It is important to develop a two-way communicative feedback system to understand more about the pressure and comfort level – then adjustments to the pressure can be made,’ says Penny.

‘Sports massage techniques can range from gentle and relaxing to deep and intense, depending on the goals of the session and specific needs. Whilst some discomfort or mild pain may be experienced, it shouldn’t be excessively painful or unbearable. It is important to note that this is a temporary response.

‘It is essential to work with a skilled and experienced physiotherapist or sports masseuse who can customize the treatment, attending to your specific needs whilst adjusting the pressure accordingly – but still providing an effective outcome.’

Why do you feel sore after a sports massage?

‘The pain experienced is a product of the inflammatory experience happening at a cellular level,’ explains Penny.

‘Deep tissue work produces this inflammatory change. Firm pressure is applied to target the underlying muscles and connective tissues causing microtrauma to the muscle fibres. Creating a localized inflammatory response and stimulating the release of metabolic waste products contribute to a feeling of soreness.’

When should you get a sports massage?

If you’re a regular runner, sports massage is an effective addition to a training schedule and treatments will vary according to when and why you seek massage. In general, there are four main types of treatment:

  • Pre-race massage
  • Post-race massage
  • Maintenance massage
  • Injury treatment

‘The timing of a sports massage is completely personalized,’ adds Penny. ‘It can vary depending on individual preferences such as familiarity with sports massage and recovery time with sports massage and the duration of the event.’


The aim of a pre-race massage is to get the body and tissues ready for the race ahead. It could help to ward off injury by preparing muscles and joints for the race ahead and even help you run the race in a more focussed way. As the name suggests, it is best practiced just before an event and the massage is performed at a fast, brisk pace – though not too deep – to get your muscles ready. Pre-race massage is sometimes available at races, so do get in contact with the race organizer to ask.

‘It’s worth noting that any soreness experienced is typically transient and should subdue within a day or two. It is often followed by a feeling of improved range of motion, reduced muscle tension, and overall well-being,’ says Penny. But for that reason, if you are prone to feeling sore after a massage, you should be careful to factor that in when booking a pre-race massage and give yourself enough time to feel the benefits.


A sports massage after a race is a great way to soothe and ease fatigued and tired tissues and prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The pace of this massage is slow, rhythmical, and gentle and it usually lasts for about 15-20 minutes. Post-race massage is often available at races.

‘Immediate post-race massage can be utilized to ‘flush’ the legs, and prompt circulation, aiming to reduce post-race soreness,’ says Penny. ‘48-72 hours post-race allows for the natural recovery period where the body can settle, and a stronger massage can aid in addressing any lingering muscle soreness, tension, and imbalance.’

Maintenance massage

This type of massage takes place in between training sessions where the aim is to work on specific elements and tissue structures that have become shortened, tight, and painful. The idea is to loosen off tightness within soft tissues so as to improve performance and prevent injury. A variety of techniques can be used, ranging from deep tissue work, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Energy Technique, and mobilization of joints, to specific stretching and strengthening. A typical sports maintenance massage can last from 30 minutes to an hour and is a very helpful regular addition to a training program, particularly if you’re training for an endurance event, such as a half or full marathon.

Injury treatment

Sports massage can also be used in a more focussed, specific way to treat particular soft tissue injuries and a wide variety of techniques and methods can be used to reduce the recovery time and help get you back running. This type of treatment can last from between 30 minutes to an hour, dependent on the injury.

What is the difference between a deep tissue massage and a sports massage?

A deep tissue massage ‘alleviates chronic muscle tension, relieves pain and improves mobility,’ says Penny. ‘It aims to improve posture and promote relaxation and is recommended for individuals with chronic pain, muscle tension, and injuries resulting from poor posture, repetitive injury, and overuse.’

While a sports massage is primarily focused on ‘enhancing athletic performance, prevention and treating sports-related injuries. It can improve flexibility, range of motion, and muscle balance. It aids in reducing muscle tension, promoting faster recovery whilst addressing specific issues common to athletes, for example, muscle strains and tension,’ she says.

What to expect – and wear

On your first visit expect to give a medical history as well as provide an account of how you have injured yourself and/or what you hope to gain from the visit.

This should be followed by an examination, usually involving a basic postural analysis as well as active and passive examination. The overall clinical picture will help formulate a treatment plan and based on this soft tissue techniques will be used to achieve the desired goal.

It is important to keep several things in mind when you visit a therapist:

  • Keep your expectations real.
  • It’s your body – be aware of how you are reacting.
  • If improvements are taking place, you are on the right track and it may be worth continuing.
  • If there is no / little improvement, consider a re-evaluation. A good therapist will refer you to other specialists if the problem is out of their remit.
  • Wear comfortable loose-fitting sports clothing (eg comfortable, loose running shorts) and avoid clothing that is too tight or restrictive as it may limit the therapist’s ability to access or work on you.

According to physiotherapist Florence Penny


Other benefits of sports massage

While it seems to be a no-brainer, massage therapy has been shown to help reduce anxiety and depression. Psychologist Christopher A. Moyer wrote that adults who received consistent massage had a significant reduction in depression. Even a single massage session can tone down a person’s state of anxiety, which is an experience of momentary tension or worry. If you have chronic “bouts” of worrying, then getting multiple sessions of massage over a period of days or weeks may help. “Why is it that the athlete feels refreshed or better after a massage? It may have something to do with biochemical markers for pain that have not been measured,” Brumitt said. He cited a study where those who received neck and upper back adjustments had higher levels of oxytocin—a hormone that gives a “euphoric feeling”—and neurotensin,—a type of protein that acts as a painkiller—than those who did not receive any adjustments. “Could it be that this effect, the manipulation, be similar to that of the manual treatment via massage? It is possible,” Brumitt said. For athletes, massage therapy—whether it’s done on a table or a chair—could play an important role in alleviating stress and anxiety after they suffer an injury or boost their confidence before a match. It may improve their self-esteem or cope with a dear loss that may affect their performance in the game. Most athletes are probably more concerned about whether they will continue to play after getting injured than the details of the chemicals in their brains. Caring touch coupled with the interaction between you and the massage therapist may psychologically influence the perception of pain and how well you recover.  



*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.

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