Remedial Massage vs Exercise Rehabilitation

Remedial massage or exercise rehabilitation? It is an argument that I have heard waged on a frequent basis comparing passive and active therapy for muscle injuries. Which method is better for an athlete when returning to competitive sport, or for the general population to get back to full-function for their daily activities? The biggest question, which method is going to assist in reducing the risk of re-injury and reducing the amount of time out of action.

Passive therapies, such as remedial massage, are an extremely common form of treatment for muscle or soft tissue injuries during the sub-acute phase (3-days to 6-weeks post-injury). Most people who have undertaken remedial massage therapy would say it has helped them return to sport or even prevented an injury occurring. However, massage is only a short-term solution to pain relief and injury management and once the sub-acute phase of an injury has passed, massage therapy is commonly tapered back and only used for maintenance purposes.

Active therapies, such as exercise rehabilitation, can also be completed during the sub-acute phase of an injury, dependant on severity. When structuring an exercise rehabilitation programme for a soft tissue or muscle injury the prime focus is often on improving flexibility in the injured muscle, increasing mobility in the associated joints and strengthening the injured area. The process of exercise rehabilitation also assists in reducing pain associated with an injury. Whether it be a supervised or a home-based programme, exercise rehabilitation has been proven to be a better option for long-term benefit and reducing the likelihood of re-injury.

The long and short of it is that a specific exercise rehabilitation program is going to be more beneficial for injury rehabilitation and prevention in the long-term. In saying this, it is also true that a combination of passive therapy leading into active therapy is a great method for a speedy and safe return to full activity and sport for the athlete or the general population. For more information on our exercise rehabilitation services or if you would like to hear more about this topic, contact Absolute Balance. If you would like more information about our injury prevention services or would like some guidance in your own injury rehabilitation, contact Absolute Balance via email or head to our website for more information.


Steph Johnston (B.Sc. Exercise physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)(ESSAM)