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Scoliosis and the Male Dancer


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Looking for any anecdotal information regarding male dancers who have had scoliosis. We've found lots of references to female dancers, but nothing about men. So, wondering if anyone's had some experience and whether it has allowed your young male dancer to continue ballet, in particular with partnering (i.e. "big lifts"). If so, are there things/techniques that were used that helped develop strength more evenly across the back? Or is ballet really not feasible for the male with scoliosis?


By the way - we're not looking for medical advice, just experiences or references to success stories - or not-so-success stories - of other men.

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I would think that the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries could be helpful, and I found this from IADMS:

Nureyev Medical Org.


Good luck. There don't seem to be a whole lot of men who suffer from scoliosis.... has the person been diagnosed with scoliosis? Sometimes, a muscle imbalance can be mistaken for scoliosis, and only a doctor can say for sure. :devil:

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Thanks, Clara76. Yes, the person was diagnosed with scoliosis and wants to know if it's limiting for the male dancer. I can't help him. I've done some research but haven't found anything - scoliosis seems to be more commen with girls. His doctors are noncommittal about the future. My only experience has been my brother-in-law, but his was quite severe requiring surgery. He was a golfer, not a dancer, though. But he seems fine, now.

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Ok, at least we know that. I doubt we'll find much anecdotal experience here, but I think that if ballet is important enough to him, he will have to do several things in order to see where this could go. If his curve is not too bad percentage-wise:


1. Yoga

2. Pilates or other strengthening work

3. Weight-lifting

4. Eating healthfully

5. Hydrating


Now, I am not a doctor, but for anyone who has extra challenges on top of just the challenges of ballet, they must do supplementary work- no choice.


I guess from here he would have to take it one step at a time, and have frequent check-ups with his doc to be sure the curve isn't increasing.


We'll see what others may have to add if anything.

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Clara's right.


And scoliosis IS more prevalent in girls than in boys. I doubt if I've seen a double handful of boys with it in my teaching career, and none to a point where it was compromising their ability in ballet. Sometimes, ballet IS the corrective protocol for scoliosis. I've been astonished over the years at the number of students who have improved their condition, their only "therapy" was ballet, and that includes the girl who was run over by a motorboat!

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cheetah: A friend's son has had scoliosis since a very young age. He has worn a brace for a long time. He initially started taking ballet just because his sister did, but doctors saw a marked improvement to his scoliosis while he was training. So, he's kept it up. He doesn't know if he wants to dance professionally - he is about 14 now - but knows it is very good for his posture and scoliosis.

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its the mom - Does he seem more susceptible to back injuries? At 14, I assume he isn't doing any "heavy lifting" yet, but the biggest concern is how the scoliosis impacts ability to partner. That's why I posted on this forum. I know there are women who suffer pretty extreme scoliosis, but their role in dance is very different from the men, so I think the limitations might be very different. Also, does he do anything special to help him find his center more effectively?

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The value of ballet as a therapy for scoliosis has been described numerous times. Therefore, it would make sense for this boy to study ballet.


Whether he wants to be a professional ballet dancer is an entirely different question --- and if he's just starting ballet, it's many years in the future as well. Either way, it seems that the benefits of studying ballet now are obvious.

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Hi Cheeta, my son is the one itsthemom mentioned.


Here's what we have experienced.

My son's biggest challenge seems to be his core strength. When he was younger, it didn't allow him to keep up with his peers in ballet. But as he grows, it is slowly coming into play. We found out about his scoliosis at a very young age (5 years old). He started with a 40 degree curve, but now hovers around 18-22.


He is at a very tough ballet school that keeps even the healthest of students continually pushing for excellence. We have had to put him on a slower track then this school typically uses. It makes him feel unhappy at times because he feels like a bit of a failure when he compares himself to the school's and his peer's standards. As he matures, his understanding of his body as a whole, and the many ways to reach a goal are finally allowing him to accept this situation and be proud of his accomplishments, even if he isn't doing a lead role.


Since we closely monitered his partnering, I would say his back hasn't suffered from it. We were very careful to make sure the partnering he did was acceptable for him.


He did have problems and continues to work hard in holding his upper body correctly. And with growth spurts, other developements happened that were related to his scoliosis that we hadn't anticipated. He sometimes gets achilles tendonitis and foot problems because his back has twisted a bit or he hasn't worked on keeping his core muscles strengthened.


Pilates has really helped. Swimming also works the core.

Some activities that you wouldn't think about do effect his back. He loves to golf, but the swinging action agrivates his back. One afternoon session of tag football with the cousins left him indisposed for several days on the couch. He loves to play the guitar, but the posture they take as they learn can make his back ache.


He very rarely complains of back pain after ballet. Usually it's the knees, heels, or ankles that bother him. And currently his partnering skills are beginning to improve. He has learned to use his arm strenth and core more, so occasionally he'll say his upper arms are sore from his class.

I actually do know of one city ballet soloist who had a case of scoliosis as a young teen. I am not sure if it straightened itself out with age, as can happen, or if he still has some curvature. He doesn't ever seem to be injured, so that is a good sign.


I hope all of this helps. I know my son's specialist gave us information about a scoliosis support group. I'm sure there must be one in your area also.


At 14, my son is coming into his own. He has acccepted the struggles of his situation and dances on. He is also finally seeing the benefits for his back and body after many hard years of basic technique class. It is not easy, but it has taught him many valuable life lessons. Best of health to your son.

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Thank you very much for sharing. One question posed was whether pilates might be beneficial. It's good to know that it has helped your son. Hadn't thought about swimming - that's a good idea, too. I know that with a curve, some muscle imbalance might occur, which would lead one to assume that the back is more predisposed to injuries. That's what prompted the initial question. I guess it depends on where it's located, though. I'm glad it's working out for your son. Thanks again.

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We had one ballet student who was ultra-skinny. I mean, you look at him and he was just skin and bones. Even at age 16. His limbs were MUCH skinnier than those of the girls around him.


Well... we never let him do any lifting. He did learn some non-lift partnering. And he had a good time and learned a lot of ballet.

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Thank you so much, madelladel, for sharing your experiences. It will be a very helpful reference for parents of boys who encounter scoliosis.

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