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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Common Back Injuries and How to Look After your Back as a Ballet Dancer

Classical ballet dancing always demands a lot of lower back work.  This is why as a ballet dancer it is very important to have strong abdominals to support you back.  Pilates and Yoga are some of the exercise forms that can help the core muscles to strengthen and the flexibility of the back and hips will also be improved.

Any back pain that is experienced during your ballet dancing should be seen to by a physician. One of the most common complaints or ailments in ballet dancing is spondylolysis. Spondylolysis is a type of stress fracture that occurs in the spine and it is caused by repetitive bending of the bones in the spine.

The bones in our bodies are alive and are constantly remodelling themselves, with cells making more protein in order to strengthen their structure.  If there is an overload on a particular bone, the body is unable to strengthen it sufficiently and stress fractures can occur.  This is a particularly common condition amongst dancers with poor nutrition or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Ballet dancers must always make sure that they are working with proper alignment with their spines in neutral position in order to place the least amount of strain on the back and thus avoid injuries.

If you are diagnosed with spondylolysis, then you will need an extended period of rest and sometimes will even need a brace to immobilise the spine.  Once recovered, you will need to do loads of strengthening exercises before returning to your ballet dancing.

Other types of spine or back injuries that are common in dancers include: Herniated lumber disk, lower back muscle strain, lower back muscle spasms, Schuermann’s disease (deformity in the vertebrae) and spondylolithesis (slipping forward of the vertebra onto the next one).

Most of the above injuries are caused by the nature of dance when the spine is moved quickly in many different directions.  The spine has hyper-flexibility and mobility, but it can lock.  Often it is difficult to tell what the cause of back pain is, but muscle strain is the most common cause.

In most back injuries, physical therapy and alternating hot and cold packs may help.

Rest is essential until the pain is gone, and don’t be tempted to go back to dancing before you are ready, or you could prolong the complete recovery of your back.

Prevent spinal and back injuries by warming up well before your ballet dancing class. Core strengthening exercises are a must.  Listen to your body and stop if it hurts. And most importantly, learn how to perform all your technique faultlessly.

Here are some great resources to help you with any of the above problems.

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