I did a private lesson for a novice female dancer recently. She was struggling because she couldn’t relax her arms and shoulders enough to feel the lead and was mentally beating herself up constantly as a result.
The solution was really simple. For the first fifteen minutes of the lesson we didn’t do any dancing at all. I got her on my physio couch and used some of my bodywork skills to release some of the stuck fascial tissue through her neck, shoulders and the front of her arms.
When we started dancing again it was like leading a different woman!
So what is fascia and how can it have such a destructive effect on your dancing?
The easiest way to describe fascia is like a cross between an enormous cobweb and a sausage skin which envelopes all your muscles and internal organs. It’s the white slightly opaque connective tissue that you see on various cuts of meat.
The thing is, if you get dehydrated, drink a lot of alcohol, are sedentary, or are highly active but make a lot of repetitive movements, your fascia can become really dense, fibrous and “stuck” to the muscles it encloses, preventing them from moving freely.
When this happens it can make areas of your body feel tight, tense, stiff, heavy, inflexible, dead, or even numb. It can interfere with coordination and mobility, and even make you slower and weaker.
So if this fascia is such a menace, what can you do to stop it wrecking your dancing?
The easiest way is to use a fascial release tool such as a foam roller on a regular basis preferably before any physical activity including your dancing.
Make sure you stay well hydrated – fascia is about 70% water.
If there are areas that seem to be a particular problem then a course of deep tissue massage can help and regular self-massage in between.
Just these simple tips will make a big difference to your dancing if you put them into practice!