Leg Injuries: How massage helps issues and when is it appropriate?

As therapists we see a lot of clients with issues in their legs, whether it’s a chronic issue that they have suffered with over some time or an acute injury that has happened recently and is causing a lot of pain.

Leg Massage is a highly effective way of lengthening the muscles, balancing circulation and treating, as well as preventing, soft tissue damage.

How Leg Injury Can Occur…

There are many muscles in the legs meaning there can be an endless amount of musculoskeletal problems arising in the area that can affect not only the legs but the body as a whole. Through everyday use of the muscles at work, carrying out daily activities or exercising we cause micro tears to the muscles fibres that also cause a small amount of bleeding in the muscles. The fibres that are rebuilt to repair the muscle fibres that were torn are inelastic, tough fibres that aren’t as flexible as other fibres. This will reduce flexibility in the muscles and will cause a strain on the joints the muscles work with to carry out movements as short muscles will pull joints into a position the aren’t supposed to lie in. The blood, oxygen and lymph flow throughout the muscles affected will also be restricted meaning the muscles will become dehydrated so they won’t work as efficiently. These factors will cause a huge amount of tension in the muscles and tendons, so will be hard when palpated and adhesions will have formed where the fibres have bound together in repair.


Massage of the soft tissues, such as Sports Massage or Deep Tissue Massage, will help reduce tension in the muscles, tendons and ligaments, which will inevitably reduce pain in the area. Massage will also bring a fresh supply of blood, oxygen and lymph flow to the muscles as they warm up and this will remove blood and lymph that built up over time, remove dead cells and lactic acid build up. In the majority of cases the client will need to be treated at a number of sessions to fully reduce the tension in the area as only one treatment will last for a limited amount of time.


More serious issues that can occur in the soft tissues are tears, from a Grade 1 tear to a Grade 3 tear which is a complete rupture of a muscle which will need immediate medical attention. Massage shouldn’t be carried out until initial pain and swelling has reduced and so that a treatment will not exacerbate the pain and increase swelling. As each tear is different, when massage should be carried out differs from a number of days to weeks depending on the severity of the injury. For this type of injury, massage is beneficial as pain can be reduced rapidly by decreasing swelling and breaking down scar tissue. This will work in the same way for strains of ligaments or sprains which are very common injuries. Lymph Drainage Massage is also helpful in reducing the prolonged swelling post injury.


The best treatment for a low grade tear or sprain is the R.I.C.E treatment where you Rest the area, Ice it to reduce blood flow to the area which will reduce pain, Compress the injury to reduce swelling and Elevate it to help remove blood from the area by draining which will increase pain in the area. Bandaging will help keep the area fixed, reducing movement and swelling and will help the damaged fibres repair. Correct bandaging and strapping procedure should be carried out by a trained professional for most benefit.


It wouldn’t be appropriate to have a massage treatment after breaking a bone in the leg. At YOU Massage Therapy we’d suggest applying our Comfrey and Marigold cream which has been known to aid healing of bones! It’s certainly not suitable over an open wound or with particular skin conditions that are contagious, certain blood disorders or any issue found in the legs that have not been diagnosed by a medical professional.


We’re always happy to advise on the best method to treat your leg problem or injury, call us on 02380 639 747 or click here to contact us if you’d like any advice.


Pete, Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist, YOU Massage Therapy

Leave a Reply