What to expect at a sports massage

The first time I went to a sports massage I didn’t really know what to expect, I was nervous and put it off for ages! So to put your minds at rest, I’m sharing my last session with Giselle from Rebalance Therapy. So you can take the plunge and feel the benefits of sports massage. Here it is.. What to expect at a sports massage

Who should go?

Anyone! You don’t need to be sports person to benefit from sports massage (remedial massage is its other name) If you have aches and pains, any minor injuries, perhaps a crick neck or an ache between the shoulder blades. Then massage can help you. Basically anyone who sits at a desk! If you have postural niggles then remedial massage could help.
Giselle (my massage therapist) completes an initial screening for any new complaint and decides if you need to be referred to someone else before starting any treatment. Sometimes sports massage isn’t the right course of action.
The only time you shouldn’t go is if you are in your first trimester of Pregnancy, there are specific therapists who are trained in pregnancy massage but sports massage is not recommended during the first three months.
What should I wear?


As you can see here, all I ensure I have is a smile! and maybe not too skimpy knickers – but maybe that’s just me being a prude! Giselle is super discrete, see the ‘What happens?’ section below. It is easier for her to work each area if you are just in underwear but it’s down to how you feel comfortable. Most therapists (inc Giselle) are happy to work through leggings and other light layers if that’s how you feel happier. Obviously if you are only having massage on your legs, you only have to take trousers off! There is no unnecessary nakedness. I have terrible circulation and get cold easily but Giselle keeps me wrapped in multiple blankets (changed for each person) and just uncovers the part of me she is working on, bit by bit. 

What should I say?

Don’t worry about it! Giselle is assessing your posture, stance and gait as soon as you come in, (but you won’t realise) and then a questionnaire covers everything else off. Importantly though, don’t be shy about sharing your aches and pains. Even if you can’t work on them all in one session its worth mentioning everything as they could be related. 
What should I take?
Nothing really, maybe a drink for afterwards. I go straight from work and am often parched from chatting. Oh and money, it’s worth checking beforehand if your therapist takes cards, many work from home and may not have card facilities. This varies from therapist to therapist. 
What happens?
Here’s what happened at my session this week:
1. I sat down and had a chat with Giselle, she starts by asking me “how are you feeling?”. As I’d had a big race the day before I talked through any niggles I had during the race. we decided together on what to work on. As I had no specific problem areas just tired muscles, this time we did a quick all over my back, glutes and thighs!
2. Giselle leaves the room, while I undress, and get cosy under the blankets.
3. A knock on the door to check I’m covered up and  Giselle comes back in and starts to work away. We started with my back this time, this involved (optionally) undoing my bra, but I was laid on my front and didn’t have to take it off. This was the first time Giselle had worked on my back and it was so good! Then she covered by back and set to work with my piriformis and glutes, she always does some work here as I have had a piriformis injury, but every time I go they feel improved.
4.  A knock on the front door signalled the arrival of Giselle’s next client and a perfect time to move on to the next faze of work. As we were doing my legs I popped my tops back on and covered my legs up with the blanket whilst Giselle let the next client in. She released my thigh muscles and then I was ready to go.
5. Again the ever discrete Giselle steps out while I finish getting dressed then a quick chat, payment and I’m floating off to the station on new legs.

Is there anything I should do afterwards?

Have a drink and don’t forgot your muscles have had a work out- give them a rest. Your muscles may be sore afterwards, especially the first time as they are not used to being massaged!
Will it hurt?
Giselle carefully explained to me in my first session that she works at or below a pain threshold of 7/10, she may occasionally hit an 8. It’s important that it is your pain level not Giselle’s exertion level as it’s different for everyone! Most of the time I find Giselle knows when she’s getting close to my 7 because she has to remind me to relax, my muscles automatically tense! I can honestly say I’ve never been in pain and I’ve never gone home with bruises! There is some discomfort but we work together and talk throughout the session to manage that. Often discomfort is a signal that something needs work.


So what are you waiting for?  Go and book a sports massage your muscles will thank you! If I missed a key question or didn’t cover something that concerns you then let me know in the comments.

I see Giselle at Rebalance Therapy who kindly answered my questions and allowed me to take these pictures. I also have friends who swear by Simon Lamb. Ask around, get recommendations and find the person who is right for you and your muscles.

Follow this blog with bloglovin


  1. Leah says:

    Great post Steph! I think this is really helpful for people who are considering a sports massage but have no idea what to expect and may be too nervous/ shy/ scared to take the plunge.

    hehe and that knock knock was just me! 😉

    • Stephanie says:

      It took me ages to go for the first time and then I met Giselle at running club which made it so much easier. I was really nervous and had had loads of mixed information. I also saw someone the other day post a picture on twitter of enormous, dark bruises after a sports massage and thought if I saw that and I’d never been, there is no way I would be going. Haha I was going to name check you but I wasn’t sure!

Leave a Reply