The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of sports massage therapy (SMT) through the perceptions of users in a naturalistic setting and specifically to make a contribution to the literature of sport for persons with a disability by exploring its use by elite athletes with a disability in both competition and training.\ud \ud This research investigated the perceptions of members of a team who competed in an IPC Athletics international competition, using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, supported by competition treatment records. \ud \ud A total of 19 athletes returned questionnaires, eight athletes representing all disability groups with physical disabilities were interviewed and treatment records were available for all 41 athletes who attended the competition.\ud \ud Results showed that the majority of athletes surveyed believed that SMT was an important part of their training and had positive effects on their performance, primarily in terms of assisting with recovery, injury prevention, rest and relaxation. It was heavily used at the competition in training as well as pre- and post-event. Athletes stressed the importance of using a practitioner in whom they trusted and with whom they felt comfortable.\ud \ud Previous studies have tended to concentrate on SMT as a short-term intervention to enhance a specific performance rather than investigating its cumulative effects in allowing the athlete to compete at a high level for a longer period of time. \ud \ud Several areas worthy of further research are suggested, including a prospective longitudinal study on a national squad throughout training and competition cycles, research exploring new paradigms from mind/body medicine to provide explanations for the effects of sports massage therapy (SMT) and qualitative studies investigating the qualities inherent in the "excellent SMT practitioner".\u
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