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Truth or Myth - Should Sports Massage Be Painful?


I have quite a few clients who often say that they are expecting their treatment to be painful or that they believe in the "no pain, no gain" approach to their treatment.  If it doesn't hurt then it can't be doing any good right?

  • Remedial means to apply a remedy - so Sports & Remedial Massage is about supporting the body in order for it to heal from injury tension or pain not create pain.


  • The aim of massage should be to relax muscles that are under tension which may be a result of injury, bad posture or stress and not cause discomfort.
    • PAIN is the body's way of indicating that something should stop.  When we feel pain the body's natural reaction is to tense up to protect the area of pain.  This is the opposite of what we as massage therapists are trying to achieve.
    • In order for a massage to have a beneficial effect then the client should be able to relax in order for the muscles to be able to release tension.
  • There is also the small matter of Connective Tissue (also known as Fascia)...
    • This is a sheet of connective tissue that is just beneath the skin and attaches, stabilises and separates muscles and other internal organs.
    • When pain is caused or felt by the body then this connective tissue will harden into a protective state - this can affect other parts of the body other than that which the therapist is working and therefore create more tension throughout the whole body.
  • Can certain techniques cause pain for example Neuro Muscular Therapy (NMT) which is a deeper treatment
    • If there is a need to use this technique which uses a deeper pressure on a particular part of the body to help release tension (Trigger Point) then the top layer of tissue needs to be warmed up and relaxed to enable the deeper technique to work effectively.  This will allow the tissue to relax and enable the technique to be used without causing pain.
    • If a therapist suddenly digs an elbow into a muscle this will immediately cause discomfort and the body will tense up around this area and access to the deeper tissue will be denied.
  • Will you feel sore after a Sports Massage?
    • There may be some residual tenderness if you have had a Sports Massage as the muscles are getting a bit of a workout during your treatment espeically if stretching techniques are used (Active Release) but no pain or bruising should occur.  
    • Everyone responds differently to massage treatments but most people sleep well after a massage and some may feel more of the benefits of the massage over the next couple of days.

In Summary... 

  • Sports Massage shouldn't be painful during the treatment but you may feel some slight tenderness the day after a treatment which is perfectly normal.  So next time you have a Sports Massage you now know that you don't need to feel pain for it to be beneficial.




Most Common Running Injuries and How To Treat Them


According to the statistics around 80% of runners will pick up an injury at some point throughout the year!


Increased or a change in training or just general overuse can change the forces going through the body and can cause injury.  It is key when increasing your training, for example if you have decided to run a marathon, to start slowly and build up the mileage (10% increase per week is advised).  


Recovery is also key and should include proper nutrition, adequate rest and active recovery.  It is also recommended to mix up your training schedule to include other cardio activities and strength training to both maintain fitness and to give your body a break from running.


Below are some of the most common injuries amongst runners and some tips on how to avoid and treat them.


As always if you aren't sure what injury you may have ensure you seek professional advice before starting any rehab.


Plantar Fasciitis

This is inflammation of the tissue underneath the foot.  You may experience more pain in the morning and discomfort can be felt both under the foot and the heel.  Overuse, incorrect footwear (hard soled shoes & flip flops are key culprits), and tight calves can all contribute.


Initial treatment is use ice on the affected area, roll a golf ball or rolling pin underneath the foot to help relax the tissue.  Stretching and mobilising the calves, and the big toe.  Kinesio Taping can help ease pain along with massage (when not in chronic state).


Shin Splints

Acute pain or a stabbing sensation can be felt on the inside of the shin bone caused by inflammation of the muscles and tendons around the shin.  Can be caused by overtraining especially on a hard ground.  


Ice the area (15/20 minutes) to help reduce the inflammation and elevate the leg where possible.  Try to rest as much as possible to give the area a chance to heal.  Check your shoes to ensure that they are the right fit for your style of running (gait analysis) and check that they are not too worn.  Avoid hills intially when you go back into training to reduce the strain on the front of the leg.


Achilles Tendinitis

Pain at the back of the heel and there can be some swelling around the achilles.


Can be caused by tight calves, improper footwear or increasing mileage too quickly.


Apply the PRICE strategy (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), ensure you warm up effectively before training to get the blood flow to the area and wear supportive shoes.


Runners Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Pain can be felt behind or around the knee and is one of the most common complaints amongst runners which is why it is known as "runners knee"!


Constant road running, downhill running and muscle imbalance can all contribute to putting stress through the kneecap.


Kinesio taping can help with pain relief and help stabilise the knee.  Rest or a reduction in mileage is advised when in pain.


Try to opt for softer surfaces where possible when in recovery and seek professional advice to assess your muscle movements.


Ankle Sprain

This injury occurs when the ankle rolls inward or outwards putting strain through the ankle ligaments stretching them.


Uneven ground, pavements or an akward landing can all be a hazard.


Initial rest and apply the PRICE protocol and elevate the affected leg to help reduce the swelling.


Light stretching and balance exercises should be introduced after the acute phase.  Kinesio taping is useful at all times through the recovery phase; to help reduce pain and provide stability to the ankle joint.


Muscle Strain

When a muscle becomes overstretched whether through overload or excessive force the muscle fibres (and sometimes tendons) can tear.  Calf and Hamstring strains are common in runners due to the load being put through these particular muscles.


Forgetting to warm up properly, lack of proper recovery (foam rolling, stretching, massage) or running through an existing injury  can put increased strain through muscles.


Ice the affected area and start with gentle stretching before moving on to strengthening exercises.


Ensure you warm up properly before running (include dynamic stretching), recover properly including a good cool down.  


Seek advice if you think you have a strain as you will need to rest and start a program of rehab to ensure that the muscles heal effectively.


Tips to help avoid injury!
  • Ensure your footwear is not too worn and appropriate for you.
  • Cross train - you can still keep your fitness and strength but give your legs a break from the pavement pounding.
  • Stick to the 10% rule - Don't increase your mileage by more than 10% each week.
  • Make time to warm up and cool down.
  • Make sure you factor in Recovery.  This is often missed out and can hinder training.
  • If you start to feel that you are aching more or feeling any pain ensure that you book an appointment with a therapist to get an assessment to avoid a more serious injury.

Safe Running!

What is Plantar Fasciitis and How To Treat It





Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain.  Symptoms can come on gradually over time and often be worse in the morning.


  • Gradual onset of pain under the heel which can also move up to the foot arch.
  • Pain is usually worse in the morning as the foot has been relaxed overnight and the Plantar Fascia becomes shortened temporarily.
  • Moving around tends to ease the pain as the tissues warm up and stretch out.

What is the Plantar Fascia?

  • It is is a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel to the front of the foot


  • Plantar Fasciitis tends to be more common in sports such as running, dancing and jumping where more load is put through the Plantar Fascia.
  • Inflammation of the fascia causes pain at the heel attachment which can then radiate along the bottom of the foot.
  • Overuse injury is usually the cause of Plantar Fasciitis but there are a number of factors that can increase the possibility of developing it such as:-
    • Having a high arched foot.
    • Tight muscles in the hips, hamstrings and calves.
    • Wearing flat or hard soled shoes.
    • Overpronation of the foot which is where the foot rolls inwards and can then over stretch the Plantar Fascia.


As always if you are not sure whether you have Plantar Fasciitis please seek advice from a professional before starting any self treatment.

  • Ice - in the initial stages aim to ice for 10 minutes every hour.  This can reduce to 3 times a day once the pain has lessened.
    • Never put ice directly onto the skin.  Wrap in a wet tea towel before applying.
  • Rolling a ball under the foot to help stretch the Plantar Fascia.


  • Stretching the calves off a step or against a wall. Aim for 3-5 times a day and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.

 calf stretch pf.jpg


  • Stretch under the foot by bringing your toes towards the front of your leg.

pf toe stretch.jpg

  • Wear Supportive Footwear such as trainers or comfortable shoes.
  • Taping - this can help protect and support the Plantar Fascia until there is minimal pain.


  • Massage - when the condition has become less painful deep tissue techniques can be used to relax and stretch the fascia.  Treatment around the calves and achilles will also help relax the surrounding muscles.

Top 6 Tips to Staying Injury Free When Exercising




It's the start of the New Year and the time when people tend to start to exercise more as they aim to become fitter and healthier. 


It is important to start slowly and build up your training over time to avoid over training and to prevent injury. 

Overuse injuries can be caused by repeated motions or impact which can cause muscles and joints to become inflamed and irritated, and this can happen when you start training too intensely too soon.  It is natural for your body to feel a bit sore as you start to exercise but you don't want to over do it so that you need to take too much time out from your training and then potentially lose your motivation.


We all know that regular exercise has both physical and emotional benefits but it is important to stay safe when training. 


Here are 6 top tips to staying injury free


1. Train at your level

Don't try to keep up with everyone else!  Go at your own pace; start slowly and build up to a more intense level.  This way you will avoid over stresssing your body and risking injury.


2. Wear the right gear

Ensure that your shoes fit properly and are appropriate for the activity.


3. Cross Train

Enjoy a range of exercises to balance the workout intensity on your body.  For example if you have started running then include swimming or spinning which are non weight bearing activities but are still aerobic to maintain fitness.


4. Recovery/Sleep

Ensure you have a least one rest day a week and make sure you get good quality sleep.   This is key for your well-being and essential for our bodies to repair effectively.


5. Diet/Hydration

Hydration is key and an essential part of any training plan.  Drink plenty of water before, during and post exercise.  Ensure you eat a balanced diet, including enough protein for your body weight, choose wholegrain, avoid processed foods where possible and eat lots of fruit and vegetables.


6. Sports Massage

There are a number of benefits to having regular sports massage when you are exercising regularly.  It improves circulation which brings fresh blood to tired muscles, improves flexibility and range of motion which can result in increased power and can help prevent and heal injuries through preventing and breaking down adhesions.