When dancers are training for a recital or other performance, they may find that their muscles cannot adapt as easily to short periods of intense movement interspersed with periods of rest. It is important for dancers to stretch before and after every piece, but they may still find that their muscles are sore at the end of the performance, and in extreme cases, fatigue or lack of proper stretching can result in pulled muscles.

Two Massage Techniques for Dancers, and When they Should Be Used

There are two major masage techniques: Short and vigorous; or slow and deep.

A short, muscle-specific massage that is more vigorous in approach can help dancers to quickly warm-up their muscles and prepare to move.

Slower and deeper types of massage can be used when dancers are relaxing after performance, or if a dancer needs to recover from injury. A deeper massage can cause changes in the length of the muscles, so it is not recommended before a performance. Lengthened muscles can be weaker and more prone to cramping for a period of time after the massage.

Three Useful Massages for Dancers

Within the two major techniques of massage, there are three massage types that can be helpful for dancers:

1. Swedish massage, sometimes referred to as the traditional massage technique, is generally slow. A masseuse applies a light or medium pressure in this technique. This type of massage is good for dancers who need general stress-reduction therapy, rather than focusing on a specific group of muscles. Because it is a slower and lighter technique, it is possible for dancers to use short intervals of this massage before a performance or intense movement.

2. Sports massage is more vigorous than traditional massage, and is considered a deep-tissue massage technique. As mentioned above, deeper massages like this should not be used by dancers before a performance or other intense activity, because the muscle length and muscle memory can be altered from this massage. Dancers undergoing physical therapy sessions may be given this type of massage for specific injuries.

3. In Neuromuscular massage, or pressure-point technique, a masseuse will apply sustained pressure on certain trigger points in the dancer’s body in order to relieve pain and soothe tight muscles. This can allow for better range of motion in some cases, and can also help to alleviate muscle spasms.

In addition to massage techniques, dancers may find it useful to use foam rollers to keep muscles warm between periods of intense movement during a performance. Since it may be possible to over-stretch the muscles, dancers should use their warm-up and stretching opportunities wisely and insert periods of rest or light massage between some of their appearances on stage.

Dancers should always consult with their physicians or physical therapists if they suspect injury or infection, before starting a massage regimen.

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When dancers are training for a recital or other performance, they may find that their muscles cannot adapt as easily to short periods of intense movement interspersed with periods of rest. It is important for dancers to stretch before and after every piece, but they may still find that...