Sports Massage vs. Medical Massage: Unraveling the Science Behind the Techniques

Over three decades of practicing and teaching in the United States have led me to explore the definitions of medical massage. But in my search, I encountered various explanations that often lacked coherence. It seems that the context in which a specific massage protocol is performed determines whether it is deemed medical or not. For instance, if the massage is given in a hospital setting, it may be labeled medical massage, but if the same protocol is applied outside the hospital by the same practitioner, it loses its medical designation. Similarly, when a medical doctor prescribes massage, it is classified as medical massage, but if the exact same treatment is delivered at a regular massage provider’s studio, it is no longer considered medical. It’s puzzling, to say the least.

Nevertheless, massage, based on a science-backed methodology, has a documented history with its own distinct name. I did not invent the term “medical massage.” Its roots trace back to the 19th century when British Physician Dr. Head introduced the concept of Head’s zones. Professor Zabludovsly furthered our understanding by explaining the reflex effect on arterial circulation in non-massaged extremities, findings later confirmed by various experimental and clinical studies.

Another significant contributor to the medical massage landscape was Austrian physical therapist Elizabeth Dickle, who brought attention to the importance of tension build-up in connective tissue /fascia and its impact on chronic somatic and visceral abnormalities. Today, we recognize this as connective tissue massage or fascia release and mobilization, also known as Bidegewebsmassage.

The work of Prof. Sherback laid a fundamental foundation not only for medical massage but also for all massage therapies. Regardless of the disorder type, be it skeletal muscular or internal organ diseases, skin, fascia, and muscles undergo changes, leading to pain and localizations that persist regardless of compression skeletal muscular disorders. Diseases of internal organs can trigger changes in soft tissues, such as increased density of skin and tension within muscles and fascia, forming what is known as reflex zones abnormalities due to somatovisceral reflex. Treating these reflex zones abnormalities through massage brought significant health improvements to thousands of patients.

Drs. Glaser and Delixo contributed immensely by publishing segments reflex massage text in 1955, including over 30 maps of reflex zones abnormalities for individual internal organs diseases and skeletal muscular disorders. Their work, along with that of Prof. Sherback and Dr. Sarkisov Serazini, paved the way for over 60 medical and sports massage hands-on protocols.

Speaking of sports massage, it finds its origins in medical massage, not solely in its name but, more importantly, in its core concepts and clinical approach. This clinical application, widely used by Olympian teams, has demonstrated desirable results, preventing sports-related injuries and enhancing performance.

In recent decades, the general public has embraced vigorous exercise, leading to a surge in workout-related injuries. As I spent considerable time in the realm of professional and Olympian competitive sports, I noticed that many individuals push their limits like professionals. While exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle, neglecting post-workout rehabilitation can lead to sprains, strains, muscle tears, and more.

One common misconception regarding sports massage is that lactic acid accumulation is the main cause of post-exercise muscle soreness. However, this concept is flawed and leads to improper clinical applications. Overtraining syndrome, a complex phenomenon, often begins with onset muscle soreness. Therefore, the primary goal of post-event sports massage is to prevent recurring and persistent muscle soreness after intense exercise.

We must not advocate for less intense workouts, but rather encourage rehabilitative post-event sports massage to maintain good health, reap the benefits of exercise, and prevent injuries.

A notable study conducted by North Carolina and Virginia authors (Smith, L.L et al., 1994) provides valuable insights into the effects of sports massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, creatine kinase levels (an indicator of muscle damage), and neutrophil count (an inflammatory white blood cell). Research team recognized in paper :”Their research aligns with the practical recommendations of   former Soviet  scientists, emphasizing the importance of starting post-event sports massage about two hours after vigorous exercise. This timing allows the massage to support the body’s healing process, specifically the removal of debris produced by muscular injury and inflammation.

The significance of sports massage in preventing sports-related injuries and enhancing performance cannot be overstated. Its precise clinical approach, involving movements toward the heart, gradually increasing pressure, and dedicating 50% of the procedure to kneading /petrissage techniques, optimizes its therapeutic effects.

Medical doctors often misdiagnose initial symptoms of overtraining syndrome as clinical depression, prescribing antidepressants and recommending increased exercise intensity—unfortunately leading to disastrous outcomes.

As a practitioner, I have engaged in discussions with medical professionals, presenting the study by North Carolina and Virginia authors (Smith, L.L et al., 1994) to demonstrate the undeniable benefits of sports massage. Patients and doctors alike can greatly benefit from our services in preventing and managing sports-related injuries.

In conclusion, medical massage and sports massage are intertwined, with the latter drawing its essence from the former. The science-based origins of sports massage, supported by extensive research and clinical application, have proven its efficacy in promoting overall well-being and improving athletic performance. As massage therapists, it is our responsibility to leverage this knowledge to provide effective and evidence-based care, collaborating with medical professionals to offer comprehensive treatment to our clients.

The on-site Medical Massage program for the corporate office… and not only for on-site

Speaking about massage being essential services…

If you would Google

you would find out the following…

“Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. Dec 10, 2017”


I would respond to this in the following way:  It is clinically and scientifically proven that there is no methodology except for massage in entire healthcare fields, that have the therapeutic power, to manage stress. What I mean is really sustainable manageability allowing to balance sympathetic and parasympathetic activities.

Let’s reflect on the data I have offered above…  Please note,  it was published on Dec 10, 2017.  Can you imagine what is going on today?

This blog is about

The On-site Medical Massage program for the corporate office and not only for on-site.

During the years, I presented live classes as well as used to teach remotely On-site Medical Massage program for the corporate office.

This science-based and clinically proven stress management program is designed to address stress side effects. It goes over protocols in sitting position on a chair, the massage using the old Chinese method working on silk offers the protocol for tension headaches, prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome, related to stress management lower extremity massage, special movement/exercise to maintain the post-massage good resting muscle tone and the full body massage performances on silk.

As you can see this is a comprehensive program, which shouldn’t be confused with the massage with the sole purpose of making a client feel good.

As always, I am teaching nonstop hands-on techniques, as well as explaining in detail what I am doing.

A few weeks ago, literally one day after I started advertising my FREE webinar, a student who used to take this class from me, contacted me and said “Boris guess what, this program is not only for the corporate office anymore. Today,” she said, “this program is saving my business and allows me to help people.”

I asked her to extend. What turned out was that because of Covid-19, people afraid to take off clothes, and she started advertising the medical massage stress management program on the silk approach.

It worked. Her business started booming. Thinking about it ,.psychological effect “not taking off the clothes”, therapist won’t touch directly skin, allows  more social distancing. Thus, this is a strong point in terms of convenience.

I didn’t want to write about it immediately until I had more information. Two weeks ago, I contacted several of my students who took this class and advised them to try promoting the “clothes on” stress management massage program on the silk approach. The guys replied that this approach totally worked.

I’m still not in the office, and am very busy with another project, but when will come back, first thing I will do I will promote massage in sitting position for stress management on silk, and the usage of silk for massage on a table and will perform different medical massage protocols with “clothes on”. Let’s keep in mind, silk providing excellent lubrication.

You still can register the link below.

Looking forward to teaching this much-needed webinar. Coronaviruses don’t go anywhere, and our treatment is essential.

Best wishes,


On-site Medical Massage program for corporate office

Healthcare provider VS. Essential services

On-site Medical Massage program for corporate office

From the author

Sorry guys. LOL. Again I am coming out with a long article.

Lately, I am literally craving for teaching, to do something positive for all. I have a lot to say and most likely for those practitioners who have the interest to read.

A part of this article is an invitation to attend my free webinar:

On-site Medical Massage program for corporate offices.

Here is the link to the registration

It is a program to study, mainly easy to learn hands-on, step-by-step massage protocols. I prefer to see all of you in my class and hope that all will stay focused during the presentation, and will be able to write down questions, preparing yourself to be recognized by your ability to deliver results.

I especially highly recommend you to observe my hands-on performances during the first 40 minutes, to listen carefully for explanations, as well as to read short notes related to what I am doing with my hands.

Thank you


There are many different sources of inspiration. For some of us to be inspired it is important to be recognized as a healthcare provider. Whoever follows my writings might remember this article

The recognition of massage therapy as healthcare methods of treatment


Below is the summary of this article.


There is a difference in the definition of what healthcare providers are depending on who is using this term.  It has one implication when used by medical bureaucrats and a different one when it stems from providing a cure for patients.

I consider myself, a hundred percent healthcare provider. I feel this way. As far as I know, my patients and referring physicians, recognizing me as a healthcare provider. Reiterating was said above, the capability to reproduce the outcome of massage procedure, make your healthcare provider.

All I have said in the summary of the article above, I believed then, and belief now:” the capability to reproduce outcome of massage procedure, makes you recognized healthcare provider. And no matter whether our client has insurance or pays out-of-pocket, the capability to reproduce the outcome of massage procedure, makes you a healthcare provider. Moreover, the capability to reproduce the outcome of massage procedure is the only prerequisite in building a successful career, including obtaining enjoyment and satisfaction from every successful treatment. The capability to reproduce the outcome of the massage procedure builds your professional reputation and prompts doctors to choose to work with you.

Healthcare provider VS. Essential services

It is comforting to realize that the attitude toward massage therapists now changed drastically and for the better.  As you know in California CAMTC certifies all massage therapists.  Recently CAMTC notified us that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has changed its definition of medical massage services.  According to the statement made by CDPH, Essential Services “Medical massage (massage is done based on a referral from a doctor or chiropractor) is permitted indoors at this time.” Also, CDPH further clarified: “Medical massage (based on a referral from a doctor or chiropractor) is permitted indoors, even if the county is on the monitoring list,” and that “medical massage is considered an essential service.”

Most likely CAMTC as well as AMTA-CA helped this to happen with some pressure from MDs.

Here is how, I believe, our services become essential.

In California, at the pre-pandemic time, many massage practitioners who worked with doctors received referrals from them. During the pandemics, doctors couldn’t refer patients to massage therapists, and they sure felt the void of positive treatment outcomes.

It was our treatment outcomes that prompted them to view our services as “essential.” Thus, most likely, it was doctors who put the pressure on the health department, to recognize massage as essential services.

This recognition didn’t come without a fight. Thirty-plus years ago when I arrived in Los Angeles I have obtained the only available at that time license of “massage technician.” Adding to a disappointment of the insignificance of the shabby title was the fact that my license was listed under the adult entertainment category.

It took many years of mutual efforts ad struggle by trade associations to separate the massage field from adult entertainment.

Now CDPH, recognize us as an Essential Services.

To consider our services “essential” is a very promising recognition.

Not only because medical doctors would see massage therapists in a different light and not only because massage therapists would get massive referrals from MDs.  The entire business world would have more trust and respect for massage therapists.

I’d like to emphasize again the utmost significance of that recognition! Imagine this… Only recently in California, the entire dentistry fields reopened, and WASN’T considered to be essential services.

Reality check:

Before the pandemics, 75% of doctor visits, used to be stress-related cases such as

Today, it is more likely that this percentage would increase and 95+% of doctor visits would be stress-related.

Can you imagine the pressure at doctors’ offices?

Guys, it is proven clinically, as well as explainable scientifically: “massage therapy is the most powerful methodology of treatment when comes to sustainable stress management. MDs, primary care physicians having the experiences: prescribing medication not really working. Patients repeatedly end up in emergency rooms, urgent care, and being hospitalized. This is literally a pandemic of sympathetic reaction that in reality only we can take under control and provide sustainable results. Please take into account that people, who work for big corporations, are a big part of these massive doctors’ visits.

I personally received many calls from MDs, begging me to start seeing patients. The answers to my inquiries were overwhelming.

This is why I claim that our services now, during the post-pandemic period, would have even broader appeal. I am predicting that the on-site medical massage therapy program for corporations would be in huge demand. Corporations that still need productivity from workers, prompted by a well-written proposal, would be willing to pay and a lot, for on-site medical massage stress management programs.

For this reason, I developed this webinar:

On-site office, medical massage program.

At this time, the “feels good” attitude and relaxation in massage chair only are not going to cut it. The program I offer would include chair massage, but its scope would be much broader. It would be the entire program of on-site medical-massage.

Besides medical massage in a chair, I would teach old Chinese methodology of massaging on silk, explain and teach the importance of lower extremity massage for sustainable stress management. I also would teach the protocol for tension headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome prevention programs, full-body massage using silk, neck exercise program, to sustain a post-massage normal muscular resting tone.

The course is composed mainly of hands-on nonstop training and step by step massages techniques, combined with theoretical explanations. Theoretical explanations will allow you to write a science-based, clinically proven proposal for the corporate world. Most importantly, it is to prepare yourself to deliver sustainable results.  This webinar offers not only an on-site office program but also a sizable set of massage techniques, many of which you could use in your office.

I understand the financial burden this pandemic imposes on everyone.  Therefore this webinar will be FREE of charge.

Additional important considerations related to the essentiality of massage services you can find in this article.

Coronavirus is not going anywhere

If one would ask me, if this recognition of essential services, inspiring me: ”my honest answer would be YES, it inspires me.”

Best wishes,



My managing company took upon itself the expenses of producing this webinar. Using the opportunity I would like to thank some “nonpolitical” professional publications, and other organizations, for agreeing to promote my FREE webinar. We need your support, individual the support of massage practitioners. Please share with other massage therapists, school owners, and instructors this invitation. Please promote this webinar to your students.

We will hold a webinar Monday, October 5th starting at 11 AM.

For registration please click



Blog List

Inspiration is the engine of any art
Post COVID-19 VS Fibromyalgia
Fixing VS. Rehabilitating
Coronavirus is not going anywhere
Medical Massage VS. Short Memory Loss
The Recognition of massage therapy as healthcare methods of treatment
Is it necessary for a learning process to be entertaining?
CA professor of medicine didn’t ask for references
What do we know about COVID-19?
Can massage techniques be equated with remedies?
Pre-event sports massage against COVID-19
The role of biomedical science in the field of massage therapy/
Detoxification and immune systems sufficiency
Remembering the uniqueness of massage therapy
Do you possess enough expertise and experience “to break my fascia?”/
There might be personal benefits in the act of sincere and active compassion
The uniqueness of massage therapy
Rehabilitation VS inhibition of symptoms
Managing stress on your own
Special price of today
Physiological bases of fascia mobilization
Rehabilitation VS inhibition of symptoms
Addressing lateral abdominal walls
Use of massage in case of a severe concussion

Sentiments and emotions in the massage therapy field
Be Careful! Words can damage
Twenty Years Later
It is the time to go back to the roots
With technological developments of testing equipment, we are getting a more scientific explanation on what we are doing
A massage therapist would never know if the case is reversible and treatable until she tries.

If the NFL uses it, must it be good?
“Pseudoscience VS. real clinical phenomena.” I respectfully disagree.
“Never play football?” I respectfully disagree.
Medical massage VS. bronchial asthma ???
I’ll do my best, but everything could happen
An injustice to Ray Rice
Post-Concussion Patient Testimonial
The History of medical massage
Out of scope of practice or just politics Part 3
Out of scope of practice or just politics Part 2
Out of scope of practice or just politics Part 1
A contemplation about “Concussion”
Diverticulitis and lower back pain

Specially designed medical massage protocol is the most powerful methodology for the management of concussions symptoms and much more. 
Is massage therapy, the remedy to all diseases?
Concerned about stress-related illnesses
The role of massage therapy in the treatment of difficult diseases
European Cranio-Sacral Therapy
The Power of Massage
My great five days at WMF Part 4
My great five days at WMF Part 3
My great five days at WMF Part 2
My great five days at WMF Part 1
Is it too late to rename “Prilutsky’s method of silicon jars massage to “Prilutsky’s method of fascia mobilizations using silicone jars?”
Interesting discussions at the AMTA CA annual education conference
“Active Engagement Techniques” with Whitney Lowe
Is it necessary to cross the line?
Do you speak your professional mind?
The role of medical massage in fighting pandemics of hypertension.
Are trigger points real, or this is a false claim that has no clinical value?
Lymphedemas can cause the development of neuropathy such as the one accompanying diabetes
Simplicity and extreme healing power of massage therapy.
I believe we all naturally born, it’s just important to realize.
Consuming antidepressants and Lyrica is not always the solution.
A little bit of good is in every bad
The role of coffee muck in cellulite reduction.
Patients reported outcome: Not all cases of sciatica are alike.
Increasing unwillingness to bear even small pains
Patient-Reported outcomes: Too much of a good thing.
Prilutsky’s Method of silicone jar massage. How it was developed.
Patients reported outcome: “In the beginning it helped, but then…”
Patients reported outcome: “There Will Be Blood”
“Prostitution VS. Massage therapy” Are we contributing to the confusion?
When pain, no gain
Unexpected usefulness of certain massage protocols
Clinical incidences could be educational
Common concept: Massage therapy /chiropractic procedure
Increase in blood supply triggered by massage
What separates a good therapist from a great one?
What is this simple approach to massage therapy and how is it different from other approaches?
The scientific community has given massage serious consideration only in the last 100 years.
Medical Massage is not a remedy for all diseases. Yet it is so powerful, that for the sake of one’s well-being, it cannot be ignored.
Critical Thinking vs. Clinical Thinking
The scientific community has given massage serious consideration only in the last 100 years.
What is this simple approach to massage therapy and how is it different from other approaches?
In a time of panic or duress take moment to rationalize
Why painkillers could cause more headaches?
The Value of Abdominal Massage
Medical Massage vs Swedish massage
Can massage be promoted as a detoxification methodology?

Inspiration is the engine of any art

After so many years of clinical experience, the last few months I’m feeling like a student, who ”just got it.” My personal enrichment, during the last few months, was rapid, very exciting, and a bit unusual. It was like an intensive process of rediscovery of what I knew, the old good clinically proven stuff, but I saw it in a different light, much broader and, honestly, I was bewildered that it happened to me.

All my professional life, I have believed, experienced, and knew that when it comes to professional skills developments, “sky is the limit.” I believed then, and believe now, that each of us in some different form can experience a personal Eureka moment.

Experiencing a Eureka moment is a natural process in our professional life. For example, the moment when we feel the effect of “energy work“ at the time of the hands-on massage. It is an absolutely unique feeling especially when patients after being subjected to this type of treatment report that their experience was different, a miracle. You realize that procedurally you haven’t done anything differently, but somehow the energy work blended within hands-on treatment produces these Eureka moments.

One has so much fun being a healing artist. This is different from any other form of art, or science. Eureka moments can occur when you have to accept clinically proven fact not yet explained by science, something that we call “empirical data”; our personal empirical data, based on our observations and our experiences.

The science of massage is like a house light, allowing moving in the right direction, which is to be capable to deliver better and sustainable results. I don’t believe that without the science of massage I would be capable to get to my personal Eureka moments.
Like for any artwork, often after being already in the field and having good clinical experience, for the development of new skills, we need inspirations. Often these inspirations come from teachers we are choosing.

In the last few months, my professional growth was inspired, by a very knowledgeable and experienced medical doctor and a medical massage practitioner. If you would want to read this story it’s in here.

Pre-event sports massage against COVID-19

Hopefully, in my writings and at upcoming classes I will be able to share my knowledge and which could inspire you to get your personal Eureka moments, to improve your skills, and to be able to help many people to stay healthy and happy.
Best wishes.

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