Soft tissue therapy is a method used to assist dancers in building and maintaining flexibility and facility, as well as treating injuries, in keeping the body both strong and supple. Using soft tissue therapy aids dancers in reaching their potential: sometimes referred to as massage, the technique covers such a broad range of entities the term massage cannot encompass them.
In soft tissue therapy, all the soft tissues of the body are concentrated on, as well as the systems of the body which maintain wellness. Dancers must maintain their bodies as their instrument, and in that comes muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, connective tissue and so on. Dancers may seek the therapy because of injury, or even small aches and pains. Others may come to increase flexibility or fluidity, and to check they are working at their capacity. As a result, soft tissue therapy can be about both improving performance as well as diagnosing and treating injuries.
For some therapists, working on soft tissues is not always about being ‘hands-on’, but also about working with occupational therapy and the mind-body connection which both affect the state of soft tissues. Dancers sometimes have to be trained to let the body relax and release tension to enable them to perform better – visualisation and relaxation techniques can help along with concentrating on breathing. Positive thinking is another technique that is encouraged to help dancers, along with visualisation techniques to help them see the body doing what they want.
In enhancing the benefits of soft tissue therapy it is important to be aware of the body and not ignore things, as early intervention is the best intervention. To get the best out your body you must ultimately believe in yourself, and believe that your body can do what you want it to do.