written by Laura Stanyer – this is by far the best article I’ve come across that explains what massage can do for dancers! If you want to view the complete article you may do so here
Dance can be an extremely physically demanding activity; training, rehearsals, and performances are physically intensive. Also all our daily activities put our body through stresses; sitting for long periods, driving or working on computer creates tension in the body and physical activities such as running or going to the gym can be physically demanding. Every day life stresses, emotions mental stress all affect our physical self.
The demand for sports massage and other massage therapies are increasing and becoming more recognised as a skill that enhances our overall well being. Due to intensive training, hectic schedules and stresses of every day life we are more prone to overworking our bodies and may suffer from muscle imbalances and overuse injuries. Physical tension in our body can have a negative affect on our mental and emotional well being so releasing excessive tension can enhance our mental health and promote relaxation and a sense of calm.
Overuse Injuries in Dance
Overuse injuries occur because muscles are worked hard during training, rehearsal or performance and are not rested fully. In the next class, rehearsal or performance the muscles are not fully recovered from the last session. It is as important to have a high quality recovery practice to maintain wellbeing and enhance your true potential. Overuse is the most common cause of muscular imbalances and injury in dance. If these are not noticed early on they can impair performance or worse can lead to chronic injures. See the dance Injuries article for more information.
Recovery From Physical Activity
Instinctively the body heals itself it performs the recovery process through circulation of the blood flushing out waste products that build up in the muscles during intense physical activity. It provides nutrients and repairs any tissue damage however this process takes time and a rest period is necessary. Dancers’ schedule often makes this required rest period very difficult to achieve. Massage is a safe and effective method of speeding up the recovery process.
Benefits of Massage for Dancers:
- Massage aids and speed up the body’s natural recovery process
- Massage helps prevent injury
- Massage enhances performance by releasing muscular tension
- Massage aid the healing process with minor soft tissue injuries
Massage can be an integral element to a dancers training or work schedule. If the dancer of company can budget for it, massage sessions by a qualified therapist can be programmed into training, rehearsal and performance schedule. However understanding time and money restraints dancers’ face I suggest learning and practicing simple self massage techniques as this can benefit dancers greatly.