As an Irish dancer, physical conditioning and well-being has always been such an important focus in my life. As a competitive athlete, I have experienced the effects of challenging, rigorous training on one’s body first hand and now I spend my days training others to work their bodies to the limit at a local gymnastics center.
With all of the training necessary to reach my potential, having constant awareness of my health was crucial and by utilizing not only traditional methods for both immediate and preventative treatments, such as oral pain medications, ice, stretching, etc., but additionally incorporating massage therapy, Tai Chi, aquatic therapy and regular visits to the chiropractor, my body has survived and thrived after years of consistent stressors and even injuries; an unusual occurrence as many dancers retire by the age of 18 or younger from chronic pain.
Thus, as Nora Richards states so eloquently in her IDM article “Massage Therapy for Irish Dancers”, “Since practice is unavoidable, then injury prevention and pain management are the key to a dancer’s well-being. Massage therapy is a proven holistic healing agent that can have remarkable effects on a dancer. Physically healing muscles is a much healthier alternative to oral pain relievers on a daily basis.”
She goes on to remark that massage therapy is not merely a preventative method but also an extremely effective treatment option as they are able to treat the initial source of injury and/or pain. Therefore, one of the main factors that led to me to this profession was experiencing the benefits personally and realizing the application of Integrative Therapies in an athletic environment.
With this in mind, I feel strongly that massage therapy can benefit so many dancers of any caliber in so many different ways. It is my intention to provide for Irish dancers in companies, at competitions, even in local practices in such a way to keep them in the best condition possible both on and off stage.
With Irish dancing becoming more popular, many competitive dancers progress to the professional realm where they’ll learn to handle the intensities of training far more than they could have imagined; perhaps ten to twelve hours a day with eight evening shows a week during their touring season. As a universal sort of equivalent, many successful Irish dancers train as hard as Olympic athletes.
Because of these exhausting work schedules, famed companies who even have international recognition such as Riverdance have recently been investing in the benefits of Integrative Therapies, such as Massage Therapy, and including therapists as an essential part of their crew. Choosing massage therapy as a career offers a freedom most professions do not.
The flexibility it gives allows for the fact that life goes on; it changes and morphs however our skills as therapists are never lost, but simply transferred to a new life situation. Wherever we go or however we choose to implement our skills, we are free to continue our work. As a traveler, there is no way of knowing where I’ll be in the future. Although that sort of uncertainty could be somewhat overwhelming, having massage therapy as a reliable foundation makes the bigger picture considerably less uncertain; a bonus indeed.
Not only independent work, but traditional employment in so many areas is possible as well. Thus, having the ability to work for touring dance companies or dance schools, the possibility of finding employment not only with companies affiliated with Irish dance, but at other private practices is quite high during the off-season. Financial security has certainly become one of my main concerns as of late.
Among the benefits listed above, one of the most important I have come to find over time is the component of self-healing as well as the healing of others. In order to heal others, as a provider it is critical to have the ability to cleanse oneself and maintain balance in your own life in order to provide the same for your clients.
How rewarding and fulfilling one’s life and work could become if they had this ability. Massage therapy truly is such a cleansing and purifying sort of experience; it’s brilliant that both the practitioner and client can reap the benefits that massage can give, not simply in a business sense but in an emotional and even psychological sense.
Admittedly, I have had the good fortune of being exposed to massage therapy and all of its complexities from a young age, as my mother is still a very skilled LMT and has given me an extremely in-depth understanding of the profession. She has and always will be a very positive influence in my life, a wise and patient guide in all things. It was not because of any sort of instruction I follow in her footsteps, but because of the initial introduction to the possibilities and benefits of Integrative Therapies. For that I am so grateful.
Pursuing massage therapy as a career is not something to be taken lightly, as the depth of study one must delve into is quite incredible. That is why I view the profession with a sincere seriousness that I hope will allow me to achieve success in the field. To become licensed, having a complete understanding of the body at all stages and conditions, during injuries and illnesses and so on is a must. But to be a great practitioner takes a lot of life experience and patience.
I intend to work as an LMT for as long as my body will allow. I understand the physical capability is such an essential part of properly providing someone with the best care possible. But because it is so physically involved, it will not always be a practical option for employment. As an athlete and coach, I’m very interested in Health and Wellness studies, massage therapy being a branch of that large category.
I would like to return to school to become a Personal Trainer or perhaps apply for a TCRG, a teaching certification in the Irish dance realm. This certification would officially allow me to teach Irish dancers whether I choose to open my own facility or join another.
In whatever way I can, my goal in life in its most basic form is to help others by becoming as well-rounded and knowledgeable an instructor as humanly possible. But for now, I aspire to help dancers and even other athletes reach their individual potential by getting the most from their bodies and to share with them the magic of a little therapeutic touch.
I am eighteen years of age, and a recent high school graduate. I opted to take a gap year to defer college so that I could finalize my amateur competition career in Irish Dance. Additionally, this time has now allowed me to enroll in our local massage therapy school of Rochester, NY (O.S.TM). Upon completion of their six month program, I hope to apply to professional dance troupes as a dancer and on-site therapist.