This is so important for dancers or any athelete because we are constantly tearing muscles and they need some healing every now and then. Whenever you stretch or lift weights, the fibers in your muscles literally rip and when they grow back together, they become more flexible and strong. That is why constant stretching will eventually make your muscles feel more lengthened and loose, and it's why weight lifters bulk up. If there is not enough rest and recouperation included in your conditioning routine, you can seriously injure yourself over time.
Licensed massage therapists usually offer many different options such as the Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology, sports massage, and more. The Swedish massage is the most common form and it can be for just your back or it can be for your whole body. I got the whole body massage today because as a dancer, I use the majority of my muscles whenever I'm dancing. This technique involves kneading and circular motions along superficial parts of the muscles using massage oils or lotions. To the contrary, the deep tissue massage goes beyond the top layer of the muscle and there is more force and pressure involved. Some times it can be rather painful and tense, but it works out those more serious kinks and knots. I have yet to try the deep tissue massage, but I imagine the discomfort is worth it in the end.
Reflexology is great for dancers because it focuses on the feet. Beware if you are ticklish! It involves pressure points on the feet that correspond to certain organs and other systems in the body. It is very relaxing for anyone who is on their feet a lot during the day. On the other hand, the focus of a sports massage is not on relaxation, but on the prevention and treatment of injuries as well as enhancing athletic performance. Facilitated stretching can be used to help loosen the muscles and increase flexibility. This would be the ideal option for a professional or pre-professional level dancer because it can be customized to fit your specific needs.
Massage therapy is not only triggered towards athletes and their injuries, but it is a great tool to promote relaxtion. I usually go because I always have tense muscles and knots, but it is also a way for me to feel calm and relieve stress. It is a chance to lay down for a half an hour or an hour and just feel the sensations in your body. It's like for that time period, nothing else in the world matters but you and your well-being. I always feel focused yet relaxed. It's a very "zen" experience. I always trust that the massage therapist will take care of me and I leave feeling revived, refreshed, and rejuvenated :)