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  1. #1
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    Default Question about dancing and a bad back

    I was told by a friend that I could do belly dancing even thought I have had 2 back surgeries and a partial fusion( my spine has started fusing on its own is what the surgeon told me) of my 2 lowest vertebrea. Im wondering if this is true, not that I doubt her but Im just really scared of getting hurt as Im a pansy when it comes to extreme pain.

    I really do want to learn to do belly dancing so Im wondering do I talk to my instructor and have a special routen (sp) worked out or what?

  2. #2
    Senior Member eden eyes's Avatar
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    seren

    i have degenerative disks in my spine and had a back surgery at 17 years old, just last summer on my S1 vertebrae disk. i teach and perform belly dance, let alone, turkish! I have not hurt myself (knock wood) but that's because i am very paranoid and careful about what i do and i modify things to my liking for safety reasons. for instance, i RARELY do back bends, but instead do leans or dips, etc

    you can do it! just please be sure to tell your instructor about your health

  3. #3
    Member Afrit's Avatar
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    If it hurts, stop. You will need to pay careful attention to your posture and technique - so make sure you have a good teacher with lots of experience and training in safe dance practice of some sort.

    However, if the vertebra are fused very low you may struggle to perform some of the basic movements as things like hip drops, bumps and twists are actually generated from the lower back.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Ask your doctor for an opinion. There are people who belly dance despite fused vertebrae, who have learned to understand their limitations and work within those. However, whether YOU could become one of those people is a question only your doctor can answer.

    You're smart to be skeptical of what your friend says. If she is neither an orthopedist nor a physical therapist, then her opinion should be taken simply as encouragement, but not fact.

    If your doctor thinks it's okay to try a class, then choose your class carefully. Interview potential instructors - some know more than others about exercise physiology, proper dance technique (from an injury-avoidance perspective), etc. Be very careful to choose one who seems knowledgeable about how to move the body safely. Tell your instructor about your situation, but don't expect your instructor to have enough medical knowledge to give you specific advice.

    You can expect your instructor to:

    • Accept the fact that you have limitations which may make you unable to do some moves.
    • Keep an eye on you in class and correct your technique if you are doing something that would be risky for someone with a normal back.


    You can NOT expect your instructor to know as much as a doctor would about your medical issues. You will need to actively involve your body awareness in class, paying attention to whether something hurts and being careful to not push yourself beyond your limitations.

    My back was injured in a car accident many years ago. I never had surgery, and I never had any fusing done, so my situatoin is somewhat different from yours. I can tell you that belly dancing has actually been BENEFICIAL for my back. So, I do recommend taking the next step of asking your doctor for an opinion.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    Provided that your fusion is stable (check with your surgeon), you'll be fine. Your mobility will not be as good (you will have less flexibility than others), but in fact, belly dance is very good for back problems.
    This is my specialty (pain management - I'm a senior lecturer in pain management and teach postgrad doctors and other health professionals), so this is both from an academic as well as clinical experience.
    You may experience increased pain initially - this will be because you probably have a very sensitive nervous system, but it's mainly your muscles needing to learn how to move and support you. Remember that most pain after back surgery is more about your nervous system settling down than 'injury', so don't be afraid to MOVE! that's what bodies were made to do!

    If you want more info on pain, head to my blog which is written for health professionals, but has loads of references.
    cheers
    Bronnie
    HealthSkills Weblog

  6. #6
    Member Nath's Avatar
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    I too have degenerative disks and L1/L2 have fused themselves (did a surgeon out of a job!). I've just recently taken up belly dancing after discussions with my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. They both agreed that as long as you watch your posture (keep the hips tucked, back straight, no twisting) I would be fine and after 2 weeks I have had no issues... in fact, I feel a heck of a lot better. Check with your doctors and good luck!

  7. #7
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    I strongly agree with the others suggesting check with your doctor first. This dance does strenthen core muscles & encourages individuals to exercise which does help spinal alignment & flexibility.

    However, with a back injury it is your responsibility to protect it. Start with a visit to your M.D. Then approach this dance gently. Know it is your right to modify a move based on your ability or refuse to do so all together. Your health comes first.

    With all that out of the way~ This is such a fun dance. Hoping you are able to join in.

  8. #8
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Tell your instructor about your situation, but don't expect your instructor to have enough medical knowledge to give you specific advice.
    Please read this several times. Instructors are rarely physical therapists. I'm not, but I still get students who come and ask if such and such a movement is safe for this or that physical ailment. The only safe reply is "I don't know; ask your physician" even if the student is in a back brace, on crutches and hauling an oxygen bottle to class and the obvious answer is NO.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    Good advice Shanazel and others! In NZ we have much less of a litigious situation, because of our accident legislation, and most of the time I can say with hand on heart that you won't INJURE yourself bellydancing more than the occasional strain (and most accidents seem to have happened AFTER a hafla or performance!), having said that, your instructor should know about safe dance practices BUT isn't able to give specific advice. On the other hand, your health professionals will not be able to give you an informed opinion because they don't know what bellydance movements are!

    Your best bet is to ask your health provider whether your back surgery is well-healed, and to tell you exactly what specific signs you should be looking for as a 'red flag'. You should also ask which specific positions or combinations of positions you must not do because they could harm you (as opposed to just hurt!). Generally after fusion you won't have any movement, so you'll be absolutely fine to do all the movements you can - but your mobility will be reduced a little!
    Without a doubt as soon as you start dancing you'll use muscles you haven't used for a while and they'll protest. But pain from muscles being used is NOT a sign of injury!

  10. #10
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    Thank you, I will go and talk with my doctor and also when I find an instructor I will talk with them also. Im glad to hear that I should be able to dance with the OK of my doctor, I thought that it maybe to hard on my lower back.
    Last edited by Seren; 09-07-2009 at 04:01 PM.

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