There are several different types of massage therapy, and some
are better suited to certain injuries or situations. Which is right for you?`
Before each Pacific Northwest Ballet show at
Seattle’s McCaw Hall, the green room is full of stretching
dancers—and massage therapists. “If a dancer is about
to go out onstage but their calf is hurting, we get them
on the table, loosen up the calf and send them out,” says
Christopher Kagen, LMP, who coordinates massage
therapy services for the company. A preshow massage
increases blood flow to the injured tissue and, Kagen
e blood means more oxygen and more energy.
The presence of a backstage therapist highlights the
importance of massage for dancers. “Massage helps to
decrease tension in the muscles and increases the body’s
healing response,” says Johann Howard, DPT, of the
NYU Langone Harkness Center for Dance Injuries.
Dance Spirit turned to the experts to demystify
five different types of massage and what they
can do for dancers.
If you have no specific complaints but want a
generic massage, the pros recommend Swedish
massage. “It’s a full-body massage and you’ll feel
like dough on a bread board,” Kagen says.
Swedish massage can be part of a regular massage
routine. There’s just one caveat, which applies to all massage types: Cool down first. “You never want to work on
a dancer who’s still hot and sweaty from whatever they’ve
just been doing,” Kagen says. Doing so risks damaging
tissues that are inflamed from exertion, which can lead
to bruising or soreness.
Massage By Ashley P. Taylor
painful, speak up!
Tell your practitioner
how much pressure
is working for