Dancing is a well-loved exercise enjoyed by many, but some dance routines and repetitive movements can lead to muscle strain, thus leading to back pain. While back pain from dancing is quite a common thing, it’s still important to understand its causes, ways to recover, and preventive measures.
So why do our backs tend to hurt after dancing? One of the main causes of back pain from dancing is incorrect form, such as sticking your hips too far out and not staying over the center when you do backbends. More than these, many other factors contribute to back pain such as training duration, frequency of performances, genetics, and fatigue.
Body pain after physical activity is known to be a normal thing. As for back pain after dancing, here are some of its causes:
Sticking one’s butt out can be caused by weak abs, weak legs, tight hip flexors, or tight back muscles. This form, called anterior pelvic tilt, isn’t exclusive to dancers. It can happen to anyone who sits at a desk for too long, which is a position that causes the muscles and tendons to tighten or shorten.
In the context of dance, the following could be the cause:
Whenever you do a backbend, your weight must be over the balls of your feet. Be sure that the bend is supported through the core, bringing the weight forward. Bringing your weight backward will put a lot of pressure on your lower spine.
Focus on keeping your weight and hips over the balls of your feet, and focus on feeling your chest going up instead of your back bending.
Studies show that dancing for five or more hours a day can lead to an increased risk of injuries and stress fractures. Moreover, dancers barely have time to recover between practices, and their restrictive diets and low body weights can also be causes of injuries.
Other causes of back pain from dancing are:
The best way to find the best treatment is to talk to your physical therapist, doctor, athletic trainer, or medical professional. But in the meantime, here are some options that will help you relieve the pain:
It’s common for dancers to take painkillers as a preventive measure before dancing or as pain relief after rehearsal, but remember that they shouldn’t be taken all the time to avoid serious side effects.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a kind of pain-relieving and inflammation-reducing medication. Examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen, salicylates, and naproxen.
Always inform your doctor if you’re taking NSAIDs or other medications. Also mention if you’re taking the meds for more than two days in a row, especially since taking NSAIDs regularly could stop you from finding out that your injury is getting worse. Remember, NSAIDs aren’t a long-term solution.
Athletes may have already heard of the RICE technique: rest, ice, compression, elevation. One component, ice, is a common way to relieve pain. Ice can reduce inflammation and swelling as it numbs the area. Ice is best used for recent injuries, particularly up to 48 hours after it occurred.
Ice is great for recent injuries, while heating pads are great for more chronic pains that are two or more days old. Use moist heat pads to decrease muscle pain and spasms. If you’re coming back from a recent injury, heat is great to warm you up before a practice or competition.
Zinc Oxide tape is helpful in reducing the risk of injury and supporting strains and healing sprains. The tape gives your joints the support needed to help lessen the pain.
Back supports can protect strains and sprains during their healing process. They also give your back that added support.
Foam rollers are a popular item at the gym. Use a foam roller before or after dancing to help reduce soreness. Add a roller wrap for extra myofascial release when rolling.
Vibrating massagers can relieve tense and stiff muscles and improve your range of motion.
Stretching exercises can help in reducing muscle tension and pain. Stretching can also improve your range of motion and flexibility.
Additional treatments for back pain from dancing also include rest from physical activity, physical therapy, and pain management procedures.
Below are some preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of back pain and other injuries from dancing:
Since dancing demands a lot of movement, it’s no surprise that there are several dance injuries that can occur from the sport, such as:
Spondylolysis is basically stress fractures of the lower back. Common in younger dancers, this injury forms in the thin area of the vertebral bone (pars interarticularis). This is the part of one’s vertebra that helps form the joint with the other vertebra.
Ways to treat spondylolysis include rest, acetaminophen, and months of physical therapy.
This injury is essentially overexertion or strain of the quadratus lumborum. Symptoms of this injury include aching and tightness in the lower back. You can treat this injury with rest, heat or ice, massage therapy, stretching and yoga, and medication (if needed).
A disc is referred to as the cushion between the individual vertebrae, and it can sometimes tear through its protective exterior. This injury is more common in older dancers. If you have a slipped disc, you may feel arm or leg pain. Herniations of the lower back usually result in the thigh, calf, and buttocks. Take note, though, that one can have a herniated disc without knowing.
Helpful treatments include yoga, non-medical activities, and physical therapy. However, if the herniation is too severe, it may require over-the-counter medication and surgery.
This injury is usually caused by hyperextending the spine, which causes two types of joints to be compressed. This injury usually doesn’t require surgery — only physical therapy, rest, and a gradual progression back into dancing.
Other common dance injuries are:
Always take dance injuries seriously to avoid putting your future in dance at risk. Listen to your body and take medical advice seriously.
No matter how experienced you are in dancing, injuries can inevitably occur. Luckily, physical therapy can help you recover from them and prevent re-injury and help you work on your balance if needed. AmeriCare Physical Therapy guarantees that and more. With competent and experienced therapists, AmeriCare Physical Therapy can help you with spinal conditions, sports injuries, and joint replacements, among others.
AmeriCare Physical Therapy is the premier source for outpatient physical therapy rehabilitation in New Jersey, guaranteeing quality treatment and care. Call us now or head to the AmeriCare PT website to book an appointment.