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  • Writer's pictureLee Busby

Pre-Event vs. Post-Event Sports Massage: What You Need to Know

When it comes to optimising athletic performance and recovery, sports massage is a valuable tool. However, not all sports massages are the same. Understanding the differences between pre-event and post-event sports massages can help athletes make the most of their sessions. Here, we delve into what distinguishes these two types of massages and the unique benefits each offers.

Pre-Event Sports Massage

Purpose: The primary goal of a pre-event sports massage is to prepare the athlete's body for the upcoming physical activity. This type of massage is designed to stimulate the muscles, increase circulation, and enhance flexibility and range of motion.

Timing: Ideally, a pre-event massage is given within 24 hours of the event, often just a few hours before. It's typically shorter than a regular massage, lasting about 15-30 minutes.

Techniques: Pre-event massages use faster, more stimulating strokes to increase blood flow to the muscles. Techniques such as quick tapotement (percussion), vibration, and light stretching are common. The massage is generally less deep and more invigorating to energize the athlete.


  • Improved Circulation: Enhances blood flow to muscles, ensuring they are well-oxygenated and ready for activity.

  • Increased Flexibility: Helps to loosen tight muscles and increase range of motion, reducing the risk of injury.

  • Mental Preparation: Can help reduce pre-event anxiety, promoting a focused and positive mindset.

Post-Event Sports Massage

Purpose: After the event, the focus shifts to recovery. Post-event sports massage aims to reduce muscle soreness, promote relaxation, and accelerate the body's healing process.

Timing: This massage should be administered as soon as possible after the event, usually within 1-2 hours. It can also be beneficial in the days following the event to aid in ongoing recovery.

Techniques: Post-event massages involve slower, more soothing strokes to calm the nervous system and relieve muscle tension. Techniques such as effleurage (long, gliding strokes), petrissage (kneading), and gentle stretching are commonly used. The pressure may vary, but it tends to be deeper than in pre-event massages to address muscle tightness and fatigue.


  • Reduced Muscle Soreness: Helps flush out metabolic waste products like lactic acid that build up during intense physical activity, reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

  • Faster Recovery: Promotes blood flow and nutrient delivery to tired muscles, accelerating the healing process.

  • Relaxation: Aids in mental relaxation and reduces post-event stress, contributing to overall well-being.

Choosing the Right Massage

The choice between pre-event and post-event sports massage depends on your immediate needs as an athlete. If you're looking to boost your performance and prevent injuries, a pre-event massage is the way to go. On the other hand, if you're aiming to recover quickly and effectively after a competition or intense workout, a post-event massage will be more beneficial.


Both pre-event and post-event sports massages play crucial roles in an athlete's regimen. By understanding their distinct purposes and benefits, athletes can incorporate these massages strategically to enhance performance, prevent injuries, and promote faster recovery. Whether you're gearing up for a big game or winding down after a marathon, the right sports massage can make all the difference in your athletic journey.

Remember, always consult with a qualified sports massage therapist to tailor the massage to your specific needs and ensure the best results for your body and sport.

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