massage therapy for athletes

Massage Therapy for Athletes: The 6 Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid Workout Injury

David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about do's and don'ts during workouts to prevent injury.

David Weintraub

It’s nearing the end of winter and we are all a bit tired of it! Everyone is recommitting to their health goals, trying to get in shape, keep in shape, improve, etc. Bodyworks DW starts to see a lot more injuries this time of year from pushing too hard at the gym. Here’s our top advice for when to push hard and when to take it easier to prevent injury. We’ll also discuss when massage therapy for athletes is worth exploring as both a preventative measure if and when you do get an injury. 

There are a lot of amazing fitness classes available in NYC. It seems like something new is popping up almost every month. And while the variety is fantastic for helping you zero in on something that really works for you, it also means exposure to a lot of different and opposing opinions on what is good for you and what is not. As massage therapists, we have a unique viewpoint on fitness. We get to see hundreds of different clients and track what activities lead to the injuries that we work on every day, and we get to see what you can do to prevent injury that really works.

Fitness instructors don’t know as much as you would think about injuries.

The instructor of your class has one job - push you to your limits and beyond. The training they have is on exercise routines, form, and leading a class. Most don’t get very detailed anatomy training. Few, if any, are trained to deal with injuries.

Only you can have an accurate read on what your limits actually are.


  1. Don’t work out to exhaustion such that you lose fluid balance and ability to perform movements cleanly and well (if you find your balance being affected, stop and rest for a bit then try again)

  2. Don’t overdo movement in one area of the body without also working on the opposing side for balance

  3. Don’t keep going if you feel any sharp pain

  4. Don’t forget to drink water and eat

  5. Don’t do any lift or movement that is so difficult that you can barely pull it off (you need to work up to these as this range of difficulty is a surefire way to injure yourself)

  6. Don’t let an instructor push you past a healthy limit


  1. Do challenge yourself to try different movements on a regular basis

  2. Do try to slowly and steadily increase your range of motion, run times, weights, distances, etc. The key here is slowly and steadily over dozens of workouts

  3. Do slow down and concentrate on smooth and easy form for movements. Getting the movement aligned and efficient from the get go prevents injuries later

  4. Do ask for guidance from an experienced and well-trained instructor on form as good form is essential and do your research on massage therapy for athletes! See for yourself how helpful it can be

  5. Do quit while you are ahead as it’s almost always those last few reps or pushing past that last bit that gets you injured

  6. Do know what the common injuries for your favorite class are and how to prevent them happening to you (scroll down for a list of what injuries are common in our experience). 

Common Injuries for Popular Exercise Classes:

We see hundreds of clients engaging in all manner of exercise. The repetitive motions of most forms of exercise lead to common injuries. While the following are by no means the only way you can get injured in class, they are far more common than you may realize.

If you know what the common injuries are to your activity, you can take it a bit easier when you start to feel anything “off” in those areas.

Basic rule of thumb for pain:

STOP exercising for at least 24 hours. Try exercise again. If you feel okay, great, if you don’t wait another day.

Yoga: hamstring attachment tear, SI joint instability, cervical disc herniations, mid back pain

Pilates: plantar fasciitis, mid back pain

Crossfit: rotator cuff tear, biceps tendonitis, hip issues, groin pull

Soul Cycle/spinning: cervical disc and lumbar disc herniation, hip issues, low back pain, shoulder pain

Swimming: rotator cuff tear, hip issues, plantar fasciitis

Running (distance): plantar fasciitis, knee issues, ankle sprains, low back pain

Martial Arts (striking heavy ones like karate or kung fu): ankle sprains, hip issues, wrist sprains

Martial Arts (soft styles like aikido): hip issues, rotator cuff tear

Ju-juitsu: cervical disc herniations, rotator cuff tear, finger injuries

Boot Camp Style Classes: plantar fasciitis, groin pull, biceps tendonitis

Tennis: tennis elbow, hip issues

Kettlebell: wrist sprains, hip issues

Barre: hip issues, mid back pain

Rowing: Shoulder pain, hip issues

Boxing: wrist sprains, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis

Kickboxing: wrist sprains, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains

How Massage Therapy for Athletes can help:

If you feel pain during a class or workout and follow the above advice, it will go away for small injuries. After rest with light movement and stretching, try exercising again. If you feel okay, awesome! You are good to go.

If the pain persists and does not go away, it’s not going to heal on its own without at least several weeks of rest. And that just plain sucks if you have specific goals such as running a marathon, losing weight, increasing your times, etc.

Working with our team of experienced and well-trained therapists can kick start your healing and get you back in action much faster. Customized massage therapy for athletes is different than your average spa massage as we target the problem areas and work with you to improve your form, body awareness, and exercise routine so that you can continue to progress without further injury. Book a massage in midtown or downtown today!

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