Physiotherapy or Sports Massage? A Guide to Picking the Right Treatment for You
Physiotherapy and sports massage are two popular treatment options for people who suffer from musculoskeletal and sports injuries. While the two share some similarities, they also have some differences which are important to know when deciding which treatment is more appropriate.
In this blog post, we will explore what physiotherapy and sports massage are used for and when you should choose one over the other.
One question I often get asked by my clients is whether they should book a physiotherapy or sports massage session. People often confuse the two treatments as being the same and that is not completely wrong. In fact, as a physiotherapist I do use massage techniques as part of my treatment on a daily basis. However, physiotherapy encompass a much wider perspective when treating an injury.
Let's say you have been having lower back pain radiating to your buttocks and posterior thigh. A physiotherapist will be able to establish whether your pain is a muscular injury, nerve irritation or any other biomechanical issue. The treatment will vary significantly according to the diagnosis. For instance, a weak lower back might benefit from gradual exposure to weight training, while an irritated nerve injury will require stretching and mobility exercises.
As another example, you could be suffering from plantar fasciitis. A sports massage will certainly be beneficial in reducing the pain and tightness in your foot and calf. However, there might be several other factors worth addressing in order to treat the root problem and speed up your recovery. A physiotherapist is able to assess whether your foot is strained because of weakness in your hip and leg muscles, or whether you need to wear insoles to support the sole of your feet.
When to seek physiotherapy treatment:
- Injuries such as ankle sprain, knee sprain etc.
- Neurological symptoms ( reduced sensation, tingling, numbness)
- Persistent pain
When to seek sports massage:
- Muscle soreness after a workout
- Muscle tightness
- Stress relief
Sports massage is an excellent treatment option to reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility in both active and sedentary people. However, if you experience a traumatic accident, neurological symptoms or chronic pain, a physiotherapist will be able to identify the root problem and prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan. Moreover, physiotherapists work closely with other healthcare professions and they are trained to identify symptoms that require medical attention.