Dancers are at high risk for back pain because of the strenuous demands that their bodies are subjected to during their practices and performances. But the lumbar spine is the most common site for back injuries among dancers, especially among ballet dancers.
In ballet, the extreme flexion of the spine, as is the case in the arabesque position, places significant strain on the lower back. Add in the unnatural or incorrect postures adopted by many ballet dancers and the risk for lower back injury increases.
But in most cases, the traumatic lower back injuries are the result of repetitive micro-trauma to the lumbar spine. Basically, the lumbar spine and its parts including the muscles, tendons, and discs become overused so much so that microscopic injuries accumulate until these become a major injury.
Of all the types of lower back pain – the other three are discogenic, spondylolytic, and vertebral fractures – mechanical back pain is the most common diagnosis of exclusion among dancers. The condition can be caused by one or several of the following musculoskeletal factors:
- Postural lordosis (e.g., swaying the back into extreme abnormal inward curvature known as hyperlordosis)
- Weakness in the abdominal muscles
- Excessive tightness in the extensor muscles
- Poor training and technique
Mechanical back pain can happen to both beginner and veteran dancers. In young dancers, for example, the pain can be the result of a transient overgrowth syndrome wherein the bony elements of the spine outstrip the tendons and ligaments. This results in a risky combination of tight lumbodorsal fascia coupled with equally tight hamstrings on one hand and weak abdominal muscles on the other hand – truly, a recipe for disaster when combined with poor training and technique.
While mechanical back pain is not uncommon among dancers, these can be resolved with rest and other home care measures. Medical attention may be unnecessary in many instances but it must be emphasized that repetitive injuries, especially shortening and soft tissue scarring, can result in chronic pain that can derail performances. In this case, medical attention including physical therapy is highly recommended.
Furthermore, stretching and strengthening exercises are a must for both preventive and treatment purposes. The physical therapy component provides for the proper techniques for these exercises, such as pelvic tilts, single leg lifts, and sit-ups, which are designed to correct posture, strengthen the muscles, and reduce the risks from mechanical back pain.
For consultations about back pain among dancers, seek the expert opinion of Healthpointe doctors and surgeons. We have clinics in many areas in California, such as in Ontario, which is conveniently located near Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair, and Chino.
Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including Westchester (LAX) which is conveniently located near Inglewood, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hawthorne, Torrance, Santa Monica, and Redondo Beach. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit www.Healthpointe.net.