Unfortunately, sports massage is often associated with hard, heavy massage using brutal techniques leaving you in agony and covered in bruises. I too thought this was the 'norm', and paid very good money for what I now know to have been terrible, ineffective massage! Thankfully, times have changed and techniques have changed also. Sports massage is really an outdated description, as it doesn't really adequately define what therapists like me do and also suggests that only sporty types will benefit. Nowadays we like to call ourselves Soft Tissue therapists, as we specialise in the soft tissues of the body by managing, manipulating and rehabilitating the soft tissues of the body.
There are a lot of people out there who market themselves as a Soft Tissue Therapist or doing sports massage, so make sure you do your homework. Did you know you there are courses that last a couple of days, and at the end people say they are a therapist? It's so frustrating, and all you will end up receiving is a basic hard massage! A good therapist will have graduated from an accredited college and will be associated with either the SMA (Sports Massage Association) or the ISRM (Institute of Sport and Remedial Massage), and will be shouting about their achievement whilst proudly showing off their letters after their name! I slogged hard for 10 months, and really proud to have a Level 5 BTEC, which is the minimum level required to work with elite athletes.
So when you are next thinking about having a massage, then seriously consider Soft Tissue Therapy. You don't have to do sports to benefit and you will not be forced to endure pain and suffer from terrible bruising - that is the sign of a bad massage!