Self massage tips for the healthy dancer

As dancers it is so important to take care of our bodies, to enable us to have the longest career possible and for our everyday wellbeing. It would be wonderful to have the luxury of having a physiotherapist or a sports massage everyday after an intensive session in the studio. However, it is not always possible to have regular massages or treatment, especially for student dancers who are on a tight budget. So what can you do to limit expenditure but still look after your body?

There are a number of self massage techniques that can be used, that are simple and require little money. Here are a few examples you get you started:

1. Buy a golf ball! I know this sounds strange but bare with me… It is ideal for massaging the feet. Wear a pair of socks to protect your feet and place the ball under your foot. Roll the ball underneath your foot in little circles or forwards and backwards. You decide what pressure to apply. If your feet are tender, go gentle at first and then you can become more rigorous if you want to. You will feel as if you have a new pair of feet afterwards!

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2. Buy a set of tennis balls…. These are great for lying on and finding those sore points in your glute and back muscles. Place a ball either side if your body, on either the glute muscles and /or either side of the spine, where the muscles become most tender.

It will be a little uncomfortable at first but try to breathe into the sore areas and you will feel the muscle release after about 30 seconds. You can also make small circles with the tennis balls, when you are lying on them and it acts as a mini massage!

Additionally you can use the balls to make circles on your thighs and calves, using you hands to apply varying pressure, depending on what you need.

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3. Buy a foam roller!
There are all sorts of rollers on the market; some that are extremely expensive and there are more basic ones on offer for about £10 from Amazon. To start off with, a less expensive one will suffice. The roller helps to release tight muscles and trigger points. There are many different options as to how to use your foam roller to full effect (word of advice: is best to use it in private as it can call for some strange looks)!

You can lie on your front and place the roller underneath your thighs. Roll up and down on it and it will really hit those sore and tight places that are difficult to reach with normal massage.image

Additionally you can lie on your side to massage the side of your thigh, known as the T-band. This area can become particularly tender and tight and it is important to keep this area released to ensure that it doesn’t pull on the knee or work its way into the lower back.

Additionally you can place the foam roller against a wall and use it to massage around the neck area or lean into it and roll up and down it to massage you back. It really is a question of experimenting and seeing what works for you.

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I hope these few tips will help manage sore and well used muscles but if there is consistent pain always consult a professional Physiotherapist or Chiropractor. As dancers, our bodies are our instrument and should always be looked after and our number one priority.
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