A reader asks:
"Hi Alice, is it best to get a massage the week before a dance weekend or the week after?
Love the blog!
Well, shoot! How about both?
Lots of people like to opt for massage after intense physical activity. It feels particularly good at that time and can help speed recovery. Soreness and fatigue will pass more quickly. Post activity massage will help your muscles to recover more thoroughly so that the tightness will not linger. However, those in the know realize that massage before intense physical activity is a great way to prepare your muscles. They'll be loosened up, the tight spots will be minimized, and you'll be able to dance (or do whatever else you're doing) with more ease. You'll be able to dance longer without getting tired, sore, and stiff. You'll be less likely to get cramps and have less post exercise soreness. You'll have more stamina and energy. You'll recover more quickly afterwards.
In a nutshell: post-activity massage will feel good and speed recovery, but pre-activity massage will not only speed your recovery, it can improve your performance, prevent muscle problems from occurring, and leave you with less to recover from! And it still feels good!
If you can have only one, I'd go for the pre-activity massage. But really, why not have the best of both worlds and do both before and after? Your muscles will be glad you did!
By the way, be sure and check back again. I'm planning on writing about the Care and Feeding of Dancers' Feet!
Thanks for your kind words and be sure and tell your dancer friends to pay a visit to Ask The Massage Therapist!