We’re often asked whether sports massage can replace stretching. 
The short answer is no. There are a wide range of advantages to both sports massage and stretching as separate and complementary activities. While sports massage can't replace the role of stretching, combining the two can help you make greater strides toward your stretching goals and reduce the risk of injury. 
You can get more out of your stretching regimen by getting a massage, as it can help release trigger points and relax spasmed muscles. Your massage therapist is a great resource for information on injuries and muscular tightness, which you can discuss with them during your visit. 
Sports massage therapists are trained to know the most effective ways to stretch each client, so you can expect to gain a deep understanding of flexibility and appropriate exercises as you receive regular sessions. 

What are the differences between stretching and sports massage? 

Sports massage provides greater short-term relief, although stretching can provide more long-term relief and performance development. 
Sports massage can be more beneficial during injuries due to the lack of ROM (Range of Motion). You might not be able to stretch in the first place, so your therapist will be able to help manipulate the muscles surrounding the injury for you and provide maintenance for your ROM whilst your injury heals. 
When stretching is done properly, it’s more of a corrective exercise. 
During a stretch, the muscle lengthens a lot. This doesn’t occur in massage to the same extent. 
Flexibility exercises cause more permanent changes in the body and, when combined with massage, allow for greater flexibility much faster. You'll also gain a better grasp of why you're stretching in respect to your weaknesses. Your therapist will assist you in setting realistic goals. 

Passive stretching in sports massage 

During or after your session, your therapist may have you perform some passive stretches to aid in the lengthening of the fascia and the following increase in blood flow to the area. 
One form of stretching is called "passive stretching" where you hold a stretch without actively moving. By aiding you and applying pressure on your body, a partner can increase the effectiveness of the stretch. This allows you to relax more while your companion helps you, allowing you to move deeper into the stretch. 

So, why can’t sports massage replace stretching? 

If you can't stretch regularly on your own because you struggle so much, sports massage will help you get to the point where you can stretch properly on your own. 
However, sports massage is not a miracle remedy that will relieve you of the responsibility of stretching! (Sorry.) You'll also need to set aside time to stretch on your own. A therapist can't do the work for you, but we can help you identify and work through your weaknesses. 

Combining the two 

Massage boosts your metabolism 
Sports massage can improve your flexibility 
Massage will relieve pain on a more short-term basis 
Stretching has a long-term effect on pain relief 
A great thing about massage is that your massage therapist can help you stretch further with a lower risk of injury when done properly. Resistance stretching is very effective, but it’s best performed with an expert. 
If you are just starting off with stretching, it may be helpful to have massage sessions more regularly and closer together for a while to help you get back into the swing of things. 
If you want to get your health back on track then please book an appointment with Fire & Earth and we’ll do our best to support you. 
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