Dance Performance: How Massage Can Help

Category: Massage
Last updated on: 25/09/2018
Two dancers using various muscles that will benefit from a massage

Again and again we come across professional dancers who also have a keen interest in massage. From ballet toes to belly shimmies, the demands that dancing puts on the body means massage therapy can be incredibly beneficial for dancers. But it's not only the remedial benefits of massage for dance that joins the two at the hip. We explore some of the similarities between dance and massage. 


Why dance is good for massage therapists 

As well as dancers who love getting massaged, many professional masseuses enjoy dancing as a hobby or even a part-time career. It is often argued that massage is a form of dance in itself. Some of the most popular massage therapists are those who love dancing and have a natural affinity for grace and rhythm.

Certain styles, like Lomi Lomi are particularly dance like in the way that they are carried out. However many types of massage, from the ubiquitous Swedish to the more exotic Balinese massage are often much better received when performed in a flowing and harmonious manner. Music is integral to achieving a state of blissful relaxation during massage. Being able to follow the rhythm of music with the contours of the body is an excellent skill. These factors apply equally to whether a client is getting massaged or two people are dancing together in synchronisation.


Why massage is good for dancers 

To achieve the impressive poses and beautiful routines we see, dancers often push their bodies to the very limit. Sometimes they push a little too far and injuries occur. Dancing involves leaps and throws and it is no surprise that the most common cause of injury is falling. Many training or professional dancers are quite young, with muscles and bones that are still developing, and therefore also more easily injured. Groin sprains, thigh strains and chronic fatigue of the muscles are all common ailments for professional dancers as is sciatica pain

As well as removing compression and stretching tight muscles, massage can speed up recovery from injuries. Gentle assisted stretching can help warm up muscles and increase flexibility before a session, thus reducing the risk of injury. Aches and pains that occur the day after a particularly demanding dance routine can be alleviated by trigger point therapy and lymphatic drainage techniques which improve the rate of blood flow around the body and flush away excess lactate sooner. 

A career in professional dance can also be incredibly demanding on the mind. Mental stress and anxiety are common conditions for aspiring dancers, as they wait to hear results of auditions or prepare for a big show. Getting regular relaxation therapy, either through massage or counselling, can help calm the mind and deal with any developing mental health issues before they become serious. 


Love Anatomy 

Whether you are training to be a professional dancer or qualified massage therapist, understanding the body and its anatomy is critical to success. 

Any good masseuse will tell you that a proper deep tissue massage should start by several minutes spent warming up the muscles. A good dancer will agree that the same principal applies to their performances. Both professionals need a good working knowledge about muscles, ligaments and joints so that they can work safely with them. 


What types of massage are good for dancers? 

Many dancers like to receive a relaxing Swedish massage before a demanding routine or audition. Spending an hour or two with a calm therapist, gently manipulating ligaments and muscles with warm oil can help loosen and prepare them for a strenuous session ahead. The soothing atmosphere of a relaxing massage at home can also help ease away tension and stress that can naturally build before a performance. 

The most popular post dance massage styles are those that work deeper into the body and target problem areas. A full body deep tissue massage is great if you want a deeper, more penetrating style treatment that covers your whole body from head to toe. Sports and physio-style massages are better choices when you are suffering from particular stress points that need targeting with massage techniques like trigger point therapy.



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