Monday, February 5th, 2007 - 5:52 pm
Benefits of Massage
I was 31 years old when I first took over Centerstage. As a Middle
Eastern dancer, I was just entering my prime, so imagine my initial
surprise to hear the question, “Did you used to dance?” It’s a
question I still hear on a regular basis, and my answer remains, “I
still do.” Since people were assuming that I was a ballet dancer,
I decided to look into the typical lifespan of a ballet dance career.
I found that principle dancers typically retire between the ages of
35-40. However, it is not uncommon for a career to end even earlier
due to injury. According to Cynthia Callison, a licensed
massage practitioner, massage could extend a dancer’s career by
preventing injury, which is–let’s face it–an occupational hazard.
Cynthia explained, there is a difference between a strong muscle
and a tight muscle. When a muscle is tight, like an old rubberband,
it loses its elasticity and cannot deliver as much force, so it is
actually weaker. In addition to limiting the muscle’s ability to
contract, a tight muscle can increase tension in the body that may
eventually lead to injury. Massage decreases muscle tension and
can help prevent acute and chronic injuries from occurring.
In addition to injury prevention, Massage Therapy is used to treat
musculo-skeletal injuries like strains, sprains, tendonitis, ’shin
splints’ and other common conditions. Besides reducing pain, a
massage therapist finds and treats the actual cause of the pain.
For example, a painful Achilles tendonitis may be the result of a
tight calf muscles. (For a dancer this could have developed from
repeating fouettes without enough plie in the supporting leg.)
Massage also improves physical and mental performance. By
increasing circulation, massage helps the body eliminate waste
products and bring in fresh blood supplying nutrients to muscles
and other tissues. This allows for faster recovery especially
after a strenuous class, rehearsal or performance. Massage can
also help ‘calm the nerves’ and clear the mind, increasing focus
and concentration before getting on stage.
Most dancers feel dread, if not downright terror, at the thought
of being unable to dance because of injury. After all, the
dancer’s body is what gives form to his or her art. Massage
can help fine tune this instrument and keep it working in top
condition because, to use our quote of the month in a slightly
different context, “the body must not stand in the way of the
Cynthia Callison is a longtime employee at Centerstage, and she
also used to dance professionally with The Washington Ballet in
D.C. and locally with ARC. She now has her own massage practice
at SABA in the Fremont area. Cynthia will be at Centerstage on
Saturday, February 10, from 10AM-2PM to give free chair massages.