Massage at Sporting Events – Inter- Event Massage

Photo credit: ewwhite on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

approx. words 890

Massage at Sporting Events – Inter- Event Massage

Today we are going to take a look at Inter–Event massage and its role within a tournament or competition, looking at its benefits for the athletes and competitors. The brief massage is performed as the name suggests, between multiple competitions on the same day or throughout the Event.

Sports such as swimming, tennis, wrestling, track and field, skating, gymnastics and less associated sports like snooker and darts are just a few examples that often require athletes to compete in a tournament format with only a short rest between bouts. An inter-event massage has been shown to improve muscle recovery between repeated bouts of strenuous exercise which helps athletes perform at optimum levels in the next round.

For for less strenuous sports such as darts, poker or snooker it has been found to relax the tensions that build giving clearer focus and concentration levels along with relaxed shoulders arms and neck.

When to use Inter-Event massage

Inter-event massage is performed between events taking place on the same day, such as at half time or between heats. The duration of the massage can vary depending on the timescale and needs of the athlete, they are usually given for 1-2 mins but if time allows or if required then 5-10 minutes and occasionally up to 20 mins can be seen. Therapists will adapt to the activity needs, the athletes needs and to the setting in which they are working, so a couch may be used, a chair, or they can work on the ground in the field or track.

Functions of an Inter-Event Massage

  • Delivers a focused and specific massage
  • Improves recovery
  • Prepares the athlete for the next event

The main difference between a pre-event and inter-event massage is duration, it should be brief, lasting under 10 minutes unless specifically needed to be longer. It focuses only on the main muscles stressed during the previous competition so will be adapted to each athlete depending on the event and what they felt during it, helping them recover as best they can before competing again.

It combines elements of both the pre and post event massage, serving as a preparation for the next event and an evaluation on how the athlete body is coping and assessed for any injuries. It is not a complete recovery massage but will help the athlete flush out and prepare the tissues for further work maintaining the energy in muscles without the therapist overworking and weakening them.

It is also possible that in some cases the athlete may not feel the acute pain of a more serious injury, this happens when adrenalin is high so the therapists will be looking out for trauma of the muscles and joints that the athlete may not be fully feeling.

For darts, poker or snooker tournaments massage can be performed for a longer period so although they are technically inter-event treatments, some of the information in this blog is not related to them. As such they deserve their own blog in the future.

Techniques Applied

Techniques applied can vary as they need to be tailored to an athletes personal requirements but are always more vigorous, at the same time light effleurage and petrissage with tapotement is used where necessary. Light passive stretching may also be incorporated, the intention is to help the client recover and prepare for the next performance not to sedate them. They need to maintain blood circulation and re-distribute the metabolic bi-products from physical activity.

As time to deliver an inter-event massage is brief the therapist will apply efficient, effective and targeted techniques, often directing them to the areas the athletes themselves would like to focus on, maybe a small area of tissue tension or restriction within a large muscle group.

Questions asked by the therapist before they proceed

Questions need to be asked and are usually specific and answers often need to be brief

  • When is your next event?
  • Are you being treated for any pre existing conditions?
  • Did you encounter any problems during your performance?
  • Do you have any specific areas of pain or stiffness?
  • Are there any areas of tension or stress you need to be focused on?


Inter event massage has proven to have beneficial results especially if the athlete has seen the therapist pre event. They will have built up a communication so massage although brief (2-10 mins) will be very specific and tailored to personal needs leaving them feeling safe and relaxed. Having a Sports massage during the event or competition is helpful to quickly restore energy levels, balance the emotional state, prevent injury, cramps, spasms, and relieve any pains from micro-trauma or chronic problems.

All sporting events can be competitive and maybe stressful for those organising and participating, massage along with the physical effects brings in the capabilities to relax psychologically having a calming effect, even watching massage brings a sense of relaxation. Whatever the needs of the athletes it will be taken into account by the therapists to ensure they are treated both on a physical and psychological level for optimum performance.

Photo credit: brassynn on / CC BY-NC-ND

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s