Osteopathic Massage vs. Sports Massage: What’s The Difference?

How difficult does your life become when you’ve strained a muscle during exercise? How do you deal with the aches and discomfort that comes with these situations?

Some people choose to power through their pain by continuing to exercise or continuing to perform the movements that are clearly aggravating their strained muscle. If you’ve got a sports or gym injury, resting is crucial otherwise you can turn your strained muscle into a permanently damaged one. 

Your first point of call after any musculoskeletal injury should be your osteopath. As primary health care practitioners who specialise in neuromusculoskeletal pain, your osteopath will ensure your condition is accurately diagnosed, and they will provide you with the best rehabilitation treatment.

The points below will help you gain clarity about whether your muscle strain needs to be treated with an osteopathic massage or a sports massage.

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is an established, recognised system of diagnosis and treatment that lays emphasis on the structural integrity of the body. It’s a natural therapy, distinctive in the fact that it recognises much of the pain and disability we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease.

We use many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis, however, the main strength of osteopathy lies in the unique way we assess you from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the manual methods of treatment applied to suit your individual needs.

An osteopathic massage will treat the pain that’s affecting your muscles, ligaments, spine, or joints. In comparison to other types of treatment like a sports massage, an osteopathic massage will focus on addressing your symptoms, and treating the underlying factors that resulted in your pain and discomfort.

Osteopathy is a holistic approach to increasing your body’s vitality, it increases your ability to heal quickly from trauma and illness. 

Through physical manipulation, massaging and stretching, your osteopath will:

  • Enhance your joint mobility and relieve your muscle tension
  • Encourage your body to heal
  • Boost blood supply to your tissues.

As well as treating sporting injuries, an osteopathic massage can help you with with the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Shoulder and elbow pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Uncomplicated neck pain
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Problems with hips, legs and pelvis.

What is a Sports Massage?

A sports massage will assist in correcting problems and imbalances in your soft tissue that are caused from repetitive and strenuous physical activity and trauma. A sports massage, before and after exercise, can enhance your performance, aid recovery and prevent injury. It’s one of the most effective forms of therapy for treating muscle tension and improving imbalances in the muscular and skeletal system. 

The hands-on techniques used by your sports massage therapist will:

  • Work on your muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Help to release tension and improve your blood circulation
  • Stimulate or suppress nerve activity
  • Remove waste products such as lactic acid
  • Relieve mental tension which helps with any future intense physical activity.

Which type of massage is the right one for you?

Whilst each type of massage has its unique features and benefits, the main difference between the two is the in-depth assessment an osteopathic therapist will provide you. Osteopathy is a complete system of diagnosis, treatment and overall management. A sports massage therapist will carry out a short assessment of you and your history, but the aim is to get stuck into the massage treatment itself. The focus of a sports massage is much more on the treatment than on a diagnosis like an osteopathic massage.

Regardless of which type of massage you choose, it is crucial to take notice of what works and feels best for you and your body. 

If you would like to explore osteopathic care as an alternative or additional treatment for your muscle aches and pains, or to enhance your gym and sports performances, please get in touch to book in your complimentary consultation at the Enfield Osteopathic Clinic. 

We will be able to assess your body and provide you with exercises you can incorporate into your everyday life. We will work together to ensure 2022 is a happy and pain-free year for you.

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