As dancers, we push our bodies to the max. It’s important to be proactive to achieve a holistic training program that includes taking care of your body outside of dance class. Incorporating a proper warm-up, cool down and other somatic practices will ensure a long, successful and healthy career. To preserve the integrity of your muscles, release any pent up tension and prevent injury, foam rolling is key.
Why Foam Roll?
A foam roller is a device used to massage and soothe tight muscles in the body known as “trigger points.” Utilizing proper foam rolling techniques, one can eliminate adhesions in their muscle and connective tissues to preserve flexibility and muscle action. This process is called Self Myofascial Release, or SMR.
You can use a foam roller across the large muscle groups throughout the body. For smaller areas, small balls or other tools are recommended. Gently roll muscle over area until you feel a tight spot, also known as “trigger point.” Pause on that muscle area for anywhere from 30-90 seconds while taking deep breaths. You can also gently roll forward and backward around 2 inches in length for a deeper practice. Once you feel the tension release in that area, continue this process until you find another trigger point.
JJGirl Ali Deucher foam rolling
Key EXERCISES for dancers:
There are many muscle groups in a dancer’s body that require some quality TLC from a foam roller. Here are some exercises you can do at home or before/after class with your foam roller to keep your muscles supple and healthy.
1.) Hip Flexors
Tight hamstrings can lead to unwanted muscle pulls in your switch leaps and straddle jumps. A foam roll across the hammies is the perfect warm up and preventive measure. Try this exercise.
If you’re working on glute strength for higher lines and/or have been strengthening this muscle area, it’s absolutely imperative to relieve any unwanted tightness with an SMR routine to prevent flexibility limitations. Here’s a great exercise for the glutes.
4.) Upper Back
Because dancers tend to have hypermobility in their back and shoulders, it can be beneficial to release over-dominant muscles that may be recruited during performance. Try adding these exercises to your routine.