Oct 2014 18

Charlotte's story - modern dance

By: Dave Wheeler

Charlotte is a 10 year-old with a passion for dancing.

She trains 5 days a week after school and competes pretty much every weekend somewhere around the country in the freestyle category.


pic by stuart mills @ freedigitalphotos.net


The thing about competing in sport at a young age is that your skeleton is still forming.

Since muscles pull on bones (after all, that's what muscles are there to do - to move your arms and legs), the stronger muscles get the more that they pull on bones. With the skeleton not yet fully-formed, muscles that become over-strong or over-tight can pull so much that they can pull the skeleton out of alignment.

Charlotte's been coming to see me now once a month for the last 7 months. When she first came for treatment she had a list of muscle aches caused by overuse of certain muscles in her dance moves:

  • The front and back of her right upper arm (the deltoid muscle)
  • The back of her left upper shoulder and neck (the levator scapula and upper trapezius muscles)
  • The right hand side of her lower back (quadratus lumborum muscle)
  • The muscle that runs down in a strip from the knee to the ankle just on the outside (the tibialis anterior muscle)
  • The soles of her feet (the plantarfascia and the tendons from thee deep posterior compartment)

Things had got so bad, that her muscle aches and pains were actually stopping her from enjoying what she did.


Treating Charlotte

The most important thing when treating any competitive sportsperson, no matter what age, gender or sport, is to treat the most limiting problems first. For Charlotte, the things causing her the most grief were her lower back and shoulders.

Using some deep tissue massage and neuro-muscular techniques the muscles in her back, neck and shoulders were eased into relaxing. 

The thing about over-used muscles is that you become "muscle-bound" - technically, the muscles become hypertonic - they never relax, they're always tense.

Sports massage was able to release Charlotte's hypertonic muscles. Then some assisted stretching exercises lengthened them out so that she was balanced both sides.

Over a few visits, as the muscles in her lower back, shoulder and neck improved we were able to start work on the other areas that were hurting her.

Within a few months, Charlotte's Mum told me that she was convinced that the regular sports massage was helping Charlotte to improve and win more competitions - she's even just been accepted into an major dance school in London.

Because Charlotte puts such strenuous demands on her body, she's always going to need the maintenance of regular sports massage to keep her in top physical condition so that she can continue to develop and improve her dancing.

Sports massage can improve flexibility, power and strength as well as sort out aching muscles. It's why Charlotte thinks of sports massage as part of her training.

If you think sports massage could help you, give me a call.