Rodrigo Bernasc via Pixabay

Ask Amy: My Physical Therapist and Massage Therapist Aren't Agreeing

I'm a dancer who is currently injured and unable to walk a lot. My physical therapist and my massage therapist are giving me opposite instructions. My PT believes that I should do her exercises, even if they cause some of the "bad pain," and take three different kinds of exercise classes. My massage therapist tells me that I shouldn't do anything that causes "bad pain" and only do one exercise class per week for now. Who should I listen to? —Rachel


You're in a sticky situation, but I think it's best to defer to your physical therapist for now. Physical therapists have advanced medical degrees and are more knowledgeable with regards to the biomechanics of your specific injury. They're also trained to develop a prescribed medical program for your rehabilitation, including stretches, strengthening exercises and mobilizations. Massage therapists specialize in soft tissue work and can aid in the healing process, but they may not have the medical background to understand the full scope of your injury.

"A physical therapist always trumps a massage therapist," says Brent Whitney, a dancer/choreographer and licensed massage therapist in private practice at Strive Total Wellness in New York City. In an ideal situation, he says, your PT and MT would have a discussion about your treatment plan so that they're both on the same page. (For example, when I was receiving PT for a stubborn back spasm, my therapist referred me to the clinic's acupuncturist and massage therapist, which helped speed my recovery.)

When that's not possible, says Whitney, "you must be your own advocate." Don't be afraid to question your PT—find out why your she wants you to follow this specific regime (and why she wants you to work through "bad pain"). Communicate any concerns, especially if you're not progressing or are in a lot of discomfort. You can always seek out a second opinion, or try your MT's advice, if you're not getting results.

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-'70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Natalia Voronova, Courtesy Bolshoi Ballet

The Bolshoi Is Back Onstage: We Went Inside Bryan Arias' Latest Work

This summer, when parts of the world were slowly emerging from the COVID-19 lockdown, all live performing arts events having been canceled or postponed, choreographer Bryan Arias found himself in Moscow creating a brand-new work for the Bolshoi Ballet.

Arias, who was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in New York City's Spanish Harlem, and danced with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and Kidd Pivot, had been invited by Bolshoi artistic director Makhar Vaziev to be part of an impromptu program of contemporary choreography titled Four Characters in Search of a Plot. Three other international choreographers—Martin Chaix (France), Dimo Milev (Bulgaria) and Simone Valastro (Italy)—had also been asked to participate. This program, unusual by all standards for Russia's esteemed classical ballet company, opened the Bolshoi's 245th ballet season on September 10. Eager to resume live events, the theater introduced a number of safety regulations for audience members, including limited and spaced-out seating, temperature checks upon entry and audio messages reminding patrons to wear masks and maintain social distance.

Below, Arias talks about his trip to Russia and his experience of creating his new piece, The Ninth Wave, on the Bolshoi Ballet dancers.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks