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A Clients Guide to

Sports Massage Therapy Techniques



Neuromuscular Techniques

Trigger Point Technique


A trigger point is a specific point in a muscle that has gone into spasm, either as an overreaction to a stress placed on the muscle or to protect the body from further injury.


What the treatment involves:

Pressure is applied directly to the trigger point until the client reports a pain level of 7 out of 10. This is maintained for up to 20 seconds or until the pain has subsided. If the pain subsides within the 20 second application further pressure may be applied up to a pain level of 7 out of 10. This can be repeated for up to 1 ½ minute or until a level of 7 cannot be attained.


What are the benefits:

  • Improved range of movement (ROM).

  • Reduced local pain.

  • Reduced referred pain.

  • Improved circulation.

  • Increased local and general relaxation.


What are the risks:

Trigger point technique can very occasionally cause localized bruising or discomfort for a few days after treatment.


Muscle Energy Techniques


Muscle Energy Techniques (METs) are a widely-used form of assisted stretching. The aim being to lengthen a shortened muscle(s).


What the treatment involves:

There are two slightly different techniques depending on the stage of injury. The first involves the therapist getting the client to work the opposite muscle against resistance before the therapist stretches the client’s muscle passively. In the second the client is asked to work the affected muscle before the therapist stretches it. In both cases the contraction lasts 6 seconds and the stretch 10 seconds. The muscles being worked are to be worked at only 20-30% of maximal effort.

What are the benefits:

  • Improved range of movement.

  • Improved flexibility and contractibility.

  • Reduced local and referred pain.

  • Improved circulation.

  • Increased local and general relaxation.


What are the risks:

Overstretching if too much too soon.



Soft Tissue Mobilisation Techniques


Transverse Frictions


Transverse frictions are used to break down adhesions in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules. These frictional movements are performed at right angles to the target fibres, and are used to optimise the formation of scar tissue, increase mobility of soft tissues and reduce physical restrictions.


What the treatment involves:

The therapist will perform multiple frictions at right angles to the direction of the fibres being worked on with regular effleurage and palpation between short bouts of frictions.

What are the benefits:

  • Realignment of collagen fibres.

  • Removal of excessive scar tissue.

  • Removal of adhesions.

  • Improved local circulation.

  • Increased range of movement.

What are the risks:

Localised bruising and tenderness for a few days.


Soft Tissue Release


Soft tissue release technique incorporates mobilisation of the joint to stretch or mobilise either a specific part of a muscle or the entire muscle length, through either active, passive or active assisted techniques. This technique is also used to break down adhesions.


What the treatment involves:

The muscle to be worked on is placed in a shortened position. The therapist then applies a pressure (lock) to a point on the muscle which is then maintained at a pain level of 6 out of 10 whilst the joint that has been moved to shorten the muscle is then moved to gradually lengthen the muscle. The therapist will initially place the lock close to the moving joint and then move up the muscle repeating the process for a maximum of two minutes.


What are the benefits:

  • Increased mobility of muscle fascia.

  • Promotes optimal scar tissue formation.

  • Breaking down of fibrous adhesions.

  • Improved Range Of Movement (ROM).

  • Promotion of muscular balance.


What are the risks:

Excessive tissue trauma if too much force is applied.


Connective Tissue Massage


This technique is used to remove myofascial restrictions within the superficial fascia which covers the entire body just beneath the skin.


What the treatment involves:

The therapist will apply light pressure to dry skin to establish restrictions in movement of the skin in various directions. Once restrictions are identified the therapist will apply a stretch which will be held for up to 30 seconds.  The therapist will then gently pinch, lift and hold rolls of skin and fascia to release deeper adhesions. Finally, the therapist will move rolls of skin and fascia in wave like movements only holding if further restrictions are found.


What are the benefits:

  • Increased mobility of the fascia

  • Removal of adhesions

  • Improved ROM in joints


What are the risks:

Skin irritation if too much pressure applied.

Aggravation of inflammation in acute injury.

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