Massage for Injuries and Muscular Activation

We have all been there: coming back from a class sore, just knowing that an injury is soon to approach and put us out of class for a few days.  Dancers have a certain sense of when something is wrong.  If you haven’t developed that sense yet, that’s another topic of discussion.  Today we talk about a very effective way to revive injured and fatigued muscles, in addition to increasing flexibility.

Rolling out, dubbed “manual rehabilitation technique” as its medical term, can completely change your dancing and the way individual muscles work and your entire muscular system as a whole.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that rolling out can do for you:

  • Relax muscle fibers to increase range of motion temporarily in the muscle
  • Warm the muscle up so that the fibers are prepared for more strenuous movements
  • Re-activate and rehabilitate the muscle and its surrounding muscles so that it can work to its fullest potential
  • Release the fascia and deeper fibers of a muscle
  • Reduce muscular cramps

A Case Study

Just recently, I suffered an agonizing knee injury.  I had a severe pain when I  placed my weight upon the joint. Therefore, dancing was completely ruled out.  I sat out from class for one day, and the following day went to see my physical therapist.

My physical therapist, who works with the professional dancers of the company connected with my school, is a strong believer and developer of the manual rehabilitation technique (MRT).  She laid me down and worked on manually releasing various points of my muscles.  Most weren’t even knee-related: my exercises included releasing the following areas:

  • Inside of my arch
  • Inside area of my quadricep
  • Shin muscle
  • Gluteus medius/minimus (back/side of hip)
  • Calves

After about a 20-minute roll out session, my pain had completely gone away.  But, this was only a temporary solution: as I walked back out to the car after my session, my pain came back, but to a lesser degree (my therapist predicted this).

That night, as my knee was feeling slightly better, I decided to take class after having rolled out my assigned areas for a good hour before class.  I took barre with minimum-medium pain, and sat down at grand battements because my pain had started to become more severe.

I then did about another hour of rolling out these areas, and I felt a very distinct release of an extremely small place in the hip muscle I had been assigned to release.  I danced for another three minutes in rehearsal that night with pain, felt the pain slowly disappear, and then it never came back.

Of course I will continue to do my exercises, but this is a great example of the manual rehabilitation technique in action, providing relief from chronic pain.  Please remember that a large part of this is diagnosing the injury properly, and therefore finding the correct places to roll out.

For Injury Rehabilitation

Here are a few examples of places that I recommend rolling out for pain in specific areas.  I have also included tools that I recommend using and how exactly to roll out for each selection.

(Note: I’m not a physical therapist, massage therapist, or any medical professional whatsoever.  This list is simply compiled from personal experience and experiences of people that I know, as well as what I’ve learned from my physical therapist and dance teachers.)

MRT Diagram.jpg

For Injury Prevention

Not only does this technique help with injury rehabilitation, it is important to continue this technique systematically to ensure that injuries do not arise.  Here are some massage tools to have in your possession to prepare for any injuries and to use for injury prevention:

  • Rolling pin
  • Lacrosse ball
  • Bouncy ball
  • Tennis ball
  • Foam roller (Trigger Point are the best!)

To prevent injuries, make sure to hit the following body parts once per day:

  • Calves
  • Shins
  • Arches
  • Hips
  • Quads

In addition to the above, a once-per-week full-body rolling routine is important.  Add in these muscles in addition to the previous list to make a good full-body rolling routine:

  • IT bands
  • Hamstrings
  • Back
  • Outside of lower leg (sit half Indian style, put bouncy ball under shin)
  • Inner thighs

I hope you find these resources helpful to you, and I’ll see you next week with a very special post!

5 thoughts on “Massage for Injuries and Muscular Activation

  1. Thanks for sharing the information. I hope you don’t mind i ask you a few questions: 1) In your article, you said ‘ I felt a very distinct release of an extremely small place in the hip muscle I had been assigned to release’ Where is this small place? Is it a place you roll out or just feel the release? is it possible for you to show in a drawing or point out roughly the area by describing the muscles/ligament nearby as i have knee issue from time to time 2) Why do you need to put the side/back of hip against a wall to roll out gluteu minimus/medius 3) Do you know what is the best way to roll out the inner thigh muscles? Mine are tight, but i cannot figure out a way. The muscles i am talking about are those prevent you to open your legs (like trying to do side slipt) when you sit on the floor. Thanks in advanced for your help and info. All the bestLih-Shiew

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! Of course I am happy to answer your questions:

      1) There I was more talking about hitting a very tight area in the muscle, or finding a knot, and then rolling it out for a long time. This caused the release. It wasn’t that I felt a release of the muscle, I just found a tight spot and worked to make it looser. Further, of course! I will put it on my list to talk about the hip muscles and how they affect your knees. For now, I would check out my Hip Anatomy blog post here. The muscles I wanted to release was the gluteus medius and minimus, you should be able to find some more info about them with that link.

      2) I put the hip against the wall because it gets at the muscle at a slightly different angle. I found that rolling out using the floor wasn’t as effective for my injury at the time because the angle didn’t hit the muscles I needed to release. Rolling out on the wall solved that problem!

      3) I have had this same problem, and I can totally relate! It’s such a struggle. With my experience, I like rolling out with a foam roller or lacrosse ball face-down. I bring one leg out to the side and bend it at 90 degrees, then put the foam roller perpendicular to my thigh. I then roll back and forth in a motion perpendicular to the roller. I hope this explains it okay, I might do a video showing this concept because I know it was difficult to get the hang of.

      I hope this helps, and please send me any further questions! I’m always happy to help. Have a great day!


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