If you take regular dance classes or are a regular Sleeker, you will be working out and performing many of the same exercises that pro dancers use every day. Dancers, ballet dancers, in particular, are known for being physically, strong but lithe, super fit and lean. This doesn’t however, exempt them from having occasional issues with low back pain like the rest of us. Their mixture of strength and flexibility makes their low back pain particularly interesting to physical therapists and chiropractors who often treat them.
Dancers use exercises to find lower back pain relief and the 5 listed below can help us all avoid the nagging pain that can often become debilitating if left unchecked. If you need something more, physical therapists and chiropractors can help with chiropractic adjustments for the pain.
All too often, when anyone suffers from low back pain, there are issues with the core muscles. Unfortunately, the studies are mixed on exactly what exercises are the best to deliver relief from low back pain. There is general agreement that core stabilization exercises and stretches in combination are beneficial in reducing pain for non-specific lower back issues, especially when the exercises are done regularly for at least six weeks.
Ballet dancers generally have a strong core, but these exercises can help bring some relief to all. Since dancers usually only dance, they are at risk for repetitive use injuries, like other athletes. Studies show that female athletes are at a slightly higher risk of repetitive use injuries. By adding some unexpected core exercises, they change up their activities.
Before adding exercises for low-back pain relief, ballet dancers should speak with their health care providers. The pain could be serious, and adding exercises should actually create more problems.
- Reclined Pelvic Tilts
Ballet dancers do pelvic tilts while dancing, as they tuck their tailbones and lengthen their spines. But to reduce low back pain, they can do pelvic tilts on the ground. Moving to a reclined position changes the center of gravity and moves it to the low back.
To do reclined pelvic tilts, dancers should lay on the floor. The arms should be flat and extended toward the feet. Bend the knees and gently push your feet flat into the floor. Then, engage the ab muscles and push the low back to the floor. With a flat back on the floor, lift the pelvis a few inches. Hold for a few seconds and repeat at least 10 times. If you experience any pain, do not do the exercise.
- Stability Ball Roll-Outs
Part of the issue with low-back pain is that there are several small muscles in the pelvis that are difficult to work. Working with a stability ball is one way to target them, especially with the roll-out move.
To do this exercise, you will need a stability ball that is the right size for you to put your elbows on it while you kneel on the floor. This exercise works the small pelvic muscles, and it gives the hamstrings some work, too. Keeping in mind that some low back pain is due to tugging from leg muscles, working the legs in a new way is helpful, too.
For this exercise, you begin kneeling on the ground while putting your forearms on the ball. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, and your toes should be tucked. To start, push the ball forward with your forearms so you move into a balancing plank position. Your back should be flat and straight from head to heels. Hold the pose, then roll back to the kneeling position. Like the pelvic tilt, repeat this at least 10 times. If the exercise causes pain, stop doing it immediately.
- Ballet Bridge Pose
This pose gets dancers into the opposite shape from the roll-outs exercise. For this one, dancers lay supine, like they did for the pelvic tilt exercise. Doing this after the roll-outs can provide some relief if you experience any discomfort while using the ball.
To begin, lay on your back with your arms extended long at the sides, and bend your knees. To make this a ballet bridge, lift your heels, keeping the toes on the ground. Then, lift the glutes. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your glutes, hips, and torse. Stay in control of your torso and pelvis. Hold the pose, then, lower down not allowing the glutes to touch the floor. Lift again, and repeat for several sets of eight to ten. The key for this exercise is to keep the abs and glutes engaged through the entire set. Relax the muscles between sets.
- Hip-Alignment Stretch
Research shows that some back pain can come from problems with alignment, especially with the hips. Fortunately, there is a simple stretch that can give immediate relief from problems with hip misalignment.
Begin laying on your back, with your arms extended along the sides of the body. Begin with the left leg long and the right leg bent. Then, tilt the tailbone slightly, so there is a natural curve in the low back and that curve is off of the floor. Hold that curve to get the full benefit of the stretch.
Keeping the left leg straight on the floor. Then, put your hands behind your right thigh and lift the right foot straight toward the ceiling. Interlace your fingers and push your thigh into your hands and your hands into the thigh. Do not bring the lifted leg toward your face, your legs should be at a 90-degree angle. Press both legs into their foundation and hold for 10 second or more.
Then, release the hands and lower the right leg straight down to the floor. You should notice the right leg is slightly longer than the left. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Then rest in the supine position.
- Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
This is a twisting yoga stretch that can provide low back relief. Begin seated with both legs extended straight. Bend the left leg and cross it over the right, with the left foot on the floor near the outside of the right knee. Then, wrap the right elbow over the lifted knee and twist toward the left hip. Hold. If you need more stretch, bend the right leg on the floor, moving the right foot near the left glutes.
After you’ve held the pose for a few breaths, switch and repeat on the other side. You can increase the stretch with each inhale and exhale to get more relief and a pleasant sensation in your back and glutes.
About Dr. Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage therapy designed to help give long-lasting relief for Anchorage and Juneau patients.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.