Sports massage techniques – Post-event massage

The focus of any post-event massage must be recovery and repair.

The massage will ideally take place immediately after the conclusion of an event. Should there be any significant delay (e.g. if the massage takes place the following day), the SMT can begin to consider this treatment as a maintenance massage and the selection of techniques may vary accordingly.


Effects of post-event massage:


– Mental recovery

Intense training and completion can be extremely mentally demanding. Post-event massage will help the athlete ‘unwind’, so the SMT may well find that they unwittingly become an ‘agony aunt’ for ‘what went wrong’ during the event. Empathy and an understanding of the stresses involved in sport is a useful asset for any SMT.


– Physiological recovery

Although lactic acid provides a useful metabolic role during exercise, it can be extremely destructive when it remains in muscles after exercise because it breaks down (catabolises) aerobic enzymes found in mitochondria. For maximal recovery, the rapid and efficient removal of lactic acid is essential. Although a cool-down will help to achieve this, massage using long, deep strokes (effleurage) in the direction of venous return will help rid the muscles of lactic acid and other metabolic wastes.



Although there may be practical limitations, post event massage is best carried out in a clinical environment on a couch and away from the noise and commotion of the event so that the client can relax.

The length of the treatment will vary (20 minutes to 1 hour), but the massage should not appear rushed, the SMT should attempt to give their full attention and avoid any distractions.

Although the methods of application will vary, the techniques used will be similar to those used in pre-event massage. Passive stretching can also be extremely effective after an event.

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