Mar 2015 14

Dancers' Day

By: Dave Wheeler

Yesterday was unusual: I had 3 clients in a row all of whom were dancers.


Pic by Danilo Rizzuti @

Jane is a 45 year old owner of a local tap and ballet dance school; Charlotte is a 10 year-old modern dance student; Terry is a 16 year-old studying dance at college.

What all 3 have in common is the intensity of the workout that they put their bodies through.


Massage treatment for dancers

Believe it or not, dancers share a similarity with boxers: neither wants their muscles stretched out any more.

With boxers, they want as much power in their muscles as possible, so they don't want their muscles stretched out by long, deep massage strokes or assisted streching.

Most dancers are already incredibly flexible, so again, don't really want them stretched out any more.

So the treatment for dancers relies on other techniques:


  • Friction (deep, very short strokes, often with the thumb, to break down muscle scar tissue).
  • Trigger point therapy.
  • Positional release technique - a type of trigger point therapy that utilises movement.


In all cases, the aim is to treat very specific areas of muscle that have become overused, or hypertonic, without interfering with the rest of the muscle.

So Jane and Terry both had damaged hamstrings, whereas Charlotte had a very tight lower back and shoulders. In all cases, these sports massage techniques effectively treated their problems without affecting their dancing performance.


The last word on being too flexible - hypermobility

If your joints allow more movement than normal, that is, you're double-jointed, it's called being hypermobile.

An example would be the person that can bend their hand all the way back to touch the back of their wrist (hypermobile wrist extension).

Whilst someone with hypermobile joints might be ultra-flexible, their muscles can still be hypertonic - after all, it's the joints that are hypermobile. So you can be double-jointed but still have tight muscles

In this case, it's even more important that the special techniques that target specific areas of hypertonicity are used rather than general massage to lengthen the fibres.

As ever, if you think I can help, give me a call.