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Why Does My Back Hurt After Dancing?

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.

What Causes My Back Pain After Dancing?

Body pain after physical activity is known to be a normal thing. As for back pain after dancing, here are some of its causes:

  1. Incorrect form: When you stick your butt or hips out

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:

  • When you dance in high heels
  • When you combine maintaining an upright posture with a back arch
  • When you take your hips back in an attempt to get extension or stretch in a dance
  1. Incorrect form: When you don’t stay over the center during backbends

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.

  1. When you dance for five or more hours a day

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:

  • Lack of support in the upper body
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Excess body weight
  • Overexertion
  • Genetics
  • Hyperextension of the spine
  • Frequency of rehearsals/classes/performances
  • Equipment used (such as shoes)
  • Environmental conditions (such as studio temperature and floor texture)
  • Training duration
  • Prior injury
  • Repetitive movements
  • Lack of back strength
  • Fatigue
  • Poor health
  • Inefficient motor control
  • Inadequate conditioning

How Do I Recover and Experience Dancing Without Back Pain?

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:

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

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.

  1. Ice

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.

  1. Heating pads

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.

  1. Athletic tape

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.

  1. Back supports

Back supports can protect strains and sprains during their healing process. They also give your back that added support.

  1. Foam rollers

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.

  1. Vibrating massagers

Vibrating massagers can relieve tense and stiff muscles and improve your range of motion.

  1. Stretches

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.

How Can I Prevent Back Pain From Dancing?

Below are some preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of back pain and other injuries from dancing:

  • Do a proper warm-up and cool-down.
  • Rest well and avoid overtraining. This means taking the next day off after a high-intensity activity, taking 2 days off after working at your highest intensity a few times a week, and taking 3 to 4 weeks of rest after dance season.
  • Pay attention to the correct technique and follow it.
  • Do cross-training to improve your strength and endurance.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle
  • Know your body’s limits.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear appropriate shoes and clothing.
  • Avoid dancing through the pain. Immediately address an injury and get advice from a professional.
  • Consult your doctor if you have a pre-existing injury.
  • Choose an appropriate dance style for you. Know your own body and your personal limits to determine the best dance style.
  • Focus on correct posture and dance technique.
  • Discuss with your dance instructor if you have an injury. Your instructor could modify the move/routine and teach you a variation to reduce the risks.

What Are Other Common Dance Injuries?

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:

  1. Spondylolysis

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.

  1.  Muscle pull in the quadratus lumborum

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).

  1. Disc herniation or slipped disc

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.

  1. Lumbar facet sprain

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:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Ankle impingement
  • Ankle sprain
  • Anterior Impingement Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Dancer's fracture
  • Dancer’s heel
  • Hammertoe
  • Heel spur
  • Hip bursitis
  • Hip flexor tendonitis
  • Hip impingement
  • Ingrown toenail
  • Labral tears
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Sesamoiditis/Turf toe injuries
  • Shin splints
  • Snapping hip syndrome
  • Stress fractures
  • Trigger toe

Always take dance injuries seriously to avoid putting your future in dance at risk. Listen to your body and take medical advice seriously.

Relieve Back Pain and Other Injuries With AmeriCare Physical Therapy

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.

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