Many dancers arrive home and pull out their foam roller to ease those sore muscles after rehearsal. But could the need for a post-rehearsal rollout be avoided altogether? Studies show that if you want to help prevent injuries and ease muscle tension, rolling is most useful when done before dancing.
Why? We have two major receptors in our muscles: the first kind allows the muscles to contract, the second allows the muscles to relax. Stretching alone stimulates the first receptor but not the second. Deep pressure, which is applied during foam rolling, activates the second and allows the muscles to relax, which prepares the body for balanced stretching. “Foam rolling before stretching and exercising is like taking the parking brake off before you start driving your car,” explains Dr. Mike Clark, CEO of the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
While it may be a habit to jump into warm-up and class and then roll out afterward, your muscles need pressure before you start dancing to reach their greatest potential.