Reduces Dancers' Stress, Helps Range of Motion
lowers anxiety, improves mood and increases range of motion among dance
students, according to a recent study.
in the massage group received 30-minute sessions twice weekly for five weeks.
The massage was focused on the upper body and consisted of moderate to firm
pressure, stroking, stretching and rocking. With a prone dancer, the therapist
began the session with firm strokes to stretch and warm the neck, back and
shoulders. Next, friction and then squeezing were applied to both sides of the
spine and then along the sides of the body.
with the dancer lying on her side, massage was applied with firm pressure on the
muscles along the rib cage, releasing tension before continuing. The chest
muscles were then lifted, squeezed and stretched. The arms were circled up by
the head and behind the back and down again while applying gentle pressure to
the chest and side. The lateral neck muscles were then pressed. Lastly, the arm
was circled in reverse, using its own weight to stretch the middle back and
the relaxation group, dancers listened via earphones to instructions on a series
of guided muscle relaxation exercises while lying on a mat. Sessions lasted 30
minutes and consisted of tensing and relaxing muscles, starting with the feet
and moving up the body, ending at the face. These sessions also occurred twice
weekly for five weeks.
showed that both groups had less anxiety, better mood, and less pain in the
neck, shoulder and back. Only the massage group experienced a decrease in
cortisol and an improvement in range of motion, including neck extension and
"Perhaps massage therapy stretched the dancers more than relaxation therapy, thus leading to the improved range of motion for the massage therapy group," the study authors wrote.
authors stated that further study should be devoted to the effects of massage
therapy for preventing and treating dance injuries.
Source: Touch Research Institute. Originally reported in the Journal of Dance
Medicine & Science, 1999, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 108-112.
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