Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Massage therapy: luxury or necessity?

The smart dancer knows the answer to that question. No doubt, massage is a necessity.

Soothe sore muscles? Check.

Break up scar tissue from recurring injuries? Check.

Increase blood flow? Check.

Regular bodywork is like maintenance on your house. Keep up with the weeds before they ruin the foundation.

As dancers, we learn to live with pain and discomfort. We often adjust our gait or compromise our alignment in order to accommodate both. It's not until a real injury sidelines us that we realize, "oh hey, I've been hitching my hip to the side for months!"

As teachers, we frequently demonstrate exercises only on one side or repeatedly or exaggeratedly or - I'm guilty of this - to be silly. Consequently, we are off-kilter much of the time but don't know it!

As humans, we carry stress in our shoulders and lower back. We strain our necks at computer screens and our wrists and forearms on our phones and tablets. We sit in traffic for hours every week. We walk in heels on concrete. We don't bend our knees when we lift our cat or our kids. Oh my gosh, we're a mess!

The answer: regular massage.

Aside from the very practical benefits of massage therapy, there are innumerable intangibles like mental relaxation and a healing touch. In addition, you'll often find skilled therapists who practice other types of body work such as cranialsacral therapy and Reiki, among other services. You may find them in medical offices with doctors who understand the benefits of noninvasive therapy, especially chiropractors and physical therapists.

So now you are kind of nodding your head in agreement that maybe massage could be incorporated into your life but you're wondering how you find someone. The number one way is by referral. A good friend or a doctor can recommend someone to you that you can trust. Just because there's a storefront down the street next to your local Pinkberry that's running a never-ending $40 special doesn't mean it's going to give you what you need. Experiment with the different types of massage (e.g. Swedish, sports, etc.) until you find the style and the person who can give you the most benefit.

As for frequency, well, you are your own best guide. Some people keep standing monthly appointments, some go a couple of times a year. Whatever works for you and your schedule (and yes, your budget), just try to be consistent. You wouldn't put off getting that oil change for five years, would you? Of course not! But you don't always have to follow the manufacturer's guidelines, if you know what I mean.

I recently had a very wonderful massage with a woman in La Canada named Julia Suh. Not only is she a tremendously intuitive therapist, she is also a yoga teacher so her approach to massage, as I felt it, was movement-based. It felt like she was moving with my muscles as I would dance. Additionally, she offers healing cranialsacral therapy which, for me, resulted in one of the most relaxed states I have ever felt. I link her on my sidebar for students who are interested in contacting her.
Julia Suh, massage & cranialsacral therapist
Happy dancing! Happy healing~

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