11 Tips For Sports Massage Aftercare

sports massage aftercare

Whether you’re scheduled for your first sports massage, or are a therapist yourself looking for advice to give your clients, knowing about sports massage aftercare is just as important as the massage itself. 

That’s why we’ve compiled this expert guide to sports massage aftercare, covering: 

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Common Symptoms Experienced After A Sports Massage

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Before we delve into our aftercare advice for sports massages, let’s first quickly establish some common post-massage symptoms.

One thing to keep in mind is that everyone is different and so may experience these symptoms differently. 

Some of the main symptoms include:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold-like symptoms (i.e. stuffy, runny nose)
  • Increased thirst
  • Headaches

These symptoms tend to develop within 48 hours of your sports massage appointment.

In the unlikely event you feel concerned about your symptoms, call your sports massage therapist or your GP for further advice. 

Alternatively, refer back to this list of sports massage aftercare tips to support your recovery. 

If you would like to learn more about this subject please read our article on the Physiological and Psychological Effects of Sports Massage.

11 Tips For Sports Massage Aftercare

So, now that you know what to expect after a sports massage treatment, here are our top sports massage aftercare tips to help you deal with them! 

#1 - Drink Plenty of Fluids 

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Arguably the most important piece of aftercare advice for sports massage is to stay hydrated. 

You might not have thought it, but massages are dehydrating! Kneading the muscle works out fluid from soft tissue and into the circulatory system, which heads towards the kidneys. 

Because of this, many people experience needing to use the bathroom straight after a sports massage. 

This is why re-hydrating your body post-massage is crucial! 

Drinking plenty of fluids helps to promote elasticity back into the muscles, thus reducing soreness while recovering. 

Tight and sore muscles may have been a reason for you getting a sports massage in the first place, so it’s important to keep hydrated to promote this muscle elasticity. 

Plus, drinking plenty of fluids helps to detoxify the body by flushing away free radicals that are released during a massage.

Plenty of water will also help to oxygenate cells which keep your metabolic functions operating effectively. 

Most sports massage therapists encourage their clients to drink a large glass of water after their session to reduce muscle soreness and to promote detoxification. It is a good idea to drink plenty of fluids for the remainder of the day too. 

If you don’t want to drink plain water all day, alternatives such as coconut water will also help to rehydrate you! 


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#2 - Use Ice/Heat Packs 

aftercare advice for sports massage

Another piece of useful sports massage aftercare advice is to use ice/heat packs. 

As we have said, you should expect to experience some muscle soreness after your massage. But fortunately, ice and heat packs can help alleviate this soreness so that you can still perform everyday activities.

Benefits of heat and ice packs include:

  • Reduced swelling/inflammation
  • Decreased muscle spasms
  • Reduced pain

When placed on the skin, heat and ice packs encourage the blood vessels to open up and allow more blood into the area. This boosts oxygen flow to the muscles thus reducing muscle soreness from developing. 

However, be aware that neither an ice or heat pack can completely stop muscle soreness- they simply help to reduce soreness from developing. 

Consider using packs for 2-3 days after the appointment or up until the aches have subsided. 

Taking hot baths for a few days is also a viable alternative to a heat pack! 


#3 - Stretch 

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Light stretches can help to release muscle tension after a sports massage, making it a beneficial part of sports massage aftercare.

Doing gentle static and dynamic stretches will help ease some of the aches and pains in your muscles, helping them to fully recover.

  • Static stretches are when you stand, sit or lie in a single position and hold it for a period of time. 

For example, a static hamstring stretch would involve standing hip-width apart and bending the body forwards at the hip, reaching the arms towards the toes while keeping the legs straight. This is then held for 15-30 seconds. 

  • Dynamic stretches involve moving the muscles while stretching, rather than holding them still for a period of time. 

For example, a dynamic full-body stretch would involve stepping the right foot forwards, lunging forward. You then extend both arms straight out at shoulder height and twist the body and arms at a 90-degree angle to the right.

Since it involves movement, this is therefore a dynamic stretch.

Doing both static and dynamic stretches is a great piece of sports massage aftercare advice that you could do to alleviate muscle aches and pains.  

#4 - Keep Moving

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After a sports massage, you may be tempted to just sit back and relax. But one of the most important pieces of aftercare advice for sports massage we can give you is to keep moving!

Now, we don’t mean going on long runs or hikes. We simply mean that you should try not to sit or stand in the same position for prolonged periods. 

If you’re someone who enjoys sitting cross-legged or is typically hunched over a desk for most of the day, try to get up and move frequently. 

On regular days, the body doesn’t cope well with being in fixed positions for prolonged periods of time as muscles are likely to tense up. But this is especially important on days when you have had a sports massage! 

Try to keep your body active with light movements and stretches to help alleviate aches and pains. 

You don’t have to set aside a particular time to do this either. For example, consider going for a light walk on your lunch break or do some dynamic stretches while you wait for the kettle to boil. 

Doing this will help to promote elasticity back into the muscles after your massage and prevent them from getting too tense. 

#5 - Drink Herbal Teas

sports massage aftercare advice

You may not have thought that what you eat or drink can affect how you recover from a sports massage. But another good tip for sports massage aftercare is to drink herbal tea!

Many fitness enthusiasts claim that drinking herbal teas helps their muscles to recover faster after an intense training session or sports massage. 

This is because many herbal teas contain anti-inflammatory properties which help the muscles to relax and alleviate any soreness. 

Here are some herbal teas that we would recommend consuming after a sports massage and why they’re beneficial.

  • Ginger tea is avidly drunk by arthritis patients as it’s known to help alleviate muscle and joint soreness.
  • Chamomile tea is another great go-to as it has calming properties that help to soothe the body while supporting the immune system. 
  • Turmeric teas have been used in herbal and Ayurveda medicine for centuries. This brew is known to reduce inflammation and promote health and wellness. 

Other herbal teas such as lemongrass or peppermint tea are also beneficial!

Consider getting your hands on some of these herbal remedies before your sports massage so you can kick-start the recovery process straight away. 

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more we think you’ll love:

#6 - Avoid Drinking Caffeine and Alcohol 

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With the previous point in mind, try to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks and alcohol until your body has had time to recover from your sports massage. 

As you now know, replacing the fluid lost from a sports massage is critical, and most massage therapists encourage their patients to have a large glass of water at the end of a session.

Whilst water is beneficial, you should avoid alcohol and caffeine post-massage. This is because they are diuretics, which means they promote water loss through urine. 

A hormone called vasopressin is produced which plays a large role in the regulation of water excretion. 

In other words, consuming caffeinated drinks or alcohol too soon after a sports massage could cause further dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritableness 
  • Sunken eyes

To avoid experiencing these symptoms, make sure you follow this piece of sports massage aftercare advice!


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#7 - Use Essential Oils 

sports massage aftercare advice 3

Did you know that using essential oils can help to relieve muscle soreness after a sports massage? 

There are various ways that you could use these, such as:

  • Add essential oil drops into a bath
  • Mix into a body moisturiser
  • Use in a diffuser

The more exposure your body has to essential oils, the more that your muscles will be able to relax and unwind after your sports massage session. 

There are a plethora of essential oils on the market that can help with sports massage aftercare, each with its own set of benefits. 

Let’s run through our 3 favourite essential oils for you to consider implementing into your sports massage aftercare routine:

  • Peppermint oil contains menthol which is a naturally occurring chemical found in most mint plants. It has been known to have cooling effects on sore and achy muscles thus making the recovery of a sports massage easier. 
  • Marjoram oil is known to reduce muscle spasms and tension. Many also report that it can reduce inflammation. 
  • Helichrysum oil is another great essential oil that also helps to reduce muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain. 

So, we recommend stocking up on some of these oils, so that you can start the recovery process straight away after your sports massage! 

#8 - Avoid Intense Exercise 

sports massage aftercare leaflet

Although we have said that you should keep your body moving, you should avoid engaging in strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours after a sports massage. 

This includes any kind of physical activity that raises your heart rate or uses your muscles intensely, such as:

  • Running
  • Weight lifting
  • High-intensity aerobics
  • Power yoga

The goal of a sports massage is to reduce tension and muscle soreness, so it’s worth letting the full effects of a sports massage develop before hitting the gym. 

Plus, rest days are a critical part of any fitness regime!

If you’re conscious about not achieving your fitness goals by not exercising after a massage, consider doing a workout before your sports massage appointment. That way, you may not feel as guilty about missing a day or two to allow your body to recover. 

#9 - Eat Healthily 

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If you’re an athlete or gym fanatic, chances are you eat a healthy diet anyway. 

There are lots of benefits of healthy eating for the body and mind in general, but it is especially important as part of your sports massage aftercare routine. 

Any food that is rich in nutrients and minerals is ideal, such as:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Wholemeal carbohydrates
  • Foods high in protein such as meat, fish, grains and pulses to promote muscle recovery

Additionally, try to avoid eating a heavy meal straight after your appointment, as this can result in feeling nauseous. 

To avoid this, consider having a light snack before and after your massage and save any larger meals until a couple of hours after your session. 

#10 - Be Patient

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While this point may be easier said than done, a crucial part of any sports massage aftercare process is to be patient!

Should you be getting a sports massage to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, it is likely that you may experience worsened symptoms for a few days after your massage. 

This is because the role of a sports massage therapist is to use various techniques and massage tools to target deep muscle tissue.

Due to this, many report that a sports massage is not a relaxing experience as with a Swedish massage, for example.  

As mentioned earlier, your muscles will undergo trauma during a session and so will take a couple of days to recover and feel the true benefits. 

Being patient is therefore super important during this time. While feeling stiff and sore is not a pleasurable experience, the long-term effects of the massage will be worth the wait!

#11 - Don’t Be Afraid to Contact Your Sports Massage Therapist 

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The final- but equally important piece of sports massage aftercare advice we can give you is to be willing to contact your therapist after your appointment. 

If at any point you have questions about your recovery process or something doesn’t feel quite right, don’t be afraid to contact them. 

After all, part of their job is to be there to help you physically and to provide you with sports massage aftercare advice. 

Your therapist should offer a range of contact methods at the point that you booked the massage. 

Make sure that you communicate any queries during regular business hours and if they don’t get back to you right away, recognise they may be busy with other clients. 

That said, if your concern is urgent, refer to your GP instead. 


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How To Create A Sports Massage Aftercare Leaflet

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If you’re a massage therapist wanting to help your clients with the sports massage aftercare process, a great way to do this is by creating a sports massage aftercare leaflet.

This is essentially a document detailing tips and guidance on what to do after their massage- including many of the tips that we have outlined above.

Creating a sports massage aftercare leaflet for your clients is beneficial for many reasons, such as:

  • It better informs those new to sports massage therapy 
  • It reduces the number of queries you receive from clients after their massage
  • It creates a professional and caring tone for your business, which is an important part of sports massage therapy marketing

Your sports massage aftercare sheet doesn’t have to be too complicated, or go into as much detail as we have in this article. Remember that it is aimed at clients who will not necessarily know the scientific detail of sports massage therapy.  

With this in mind, consider incorporating the following things into your sports massage aftercare sheet:

  • Benefits of sports massage
  • Common symptoms of sports massage
  • Tips on sports massage aftercare 
  • Contact information
  • List of additional services

You should also keep the design minimalistic and sleek. This will help to enhance the professional tone you’re conveying to your clients. 

Here are some online tools that you could use to create your own sports massage aftercare leaflet:

Here are two examples of good sports massage aftercare sheets: 

sports massage aftercare leaflets                sports massage aftercare leaflets 2

As you can see, these sports massage aftercare sheets are divided into easy-to-read subheadings, featuring bullet points and graphics, rather than big chunks of text. This makes it a lot more accessible and easy to understand for your clients. 

It also helps enforce this business’ marketing, by featuring their branding and colour scheme. 

Furthermore, it is all included on just one page. Again, this makes it more accessible for your clients. 

So, creating an effective sports massage aftercare leaflet is an easy, cost-effective and useful way to go the extra mile for your clients! 

Before You Go! 

So, there we have it - a range of aftercare advice for sports massage therapy! 

Whether you’ve got a massage appointment of your own coming up, or you’re a therapist wanting to give advice to your clients, this article has covered it all!

Feeling inspired? Expand your client base by training to become a PT with OriGym's Personal Trainer CoursesEnquire now, or download our course prospectus to browse the full range of fitness courses that you can study with OriGym. 

Written by Emily Evans

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Emily studied English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2021 with a 2:1 BA honours degree. Alongside her degree, she also gained experience in student publication as Forge Press’ Lifestyle Editor and Deputy Editor for Post-Production. This is where her love for content writing stemmed from, which also led her to OriGym. Outside of her work, Emily will either be found on a long hike, at the gym or making a mess trying new healthy recipes in her kitchen!

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