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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Spinal fusion

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Another topic about body issues, I'm sorry... My spinal fusion starts from the pelvis and ends at L2 so it's only 4 vertebrae but it's low so it gets in the way. It's most noticable when i try any position that involves lifting my leg behind. I can't lift it more than maybe 30 degrees. While of course I don't expect it to get perfect, I'd like to be able to lift my legs 45 or 50 degrees off the floor. Has anybody have any experience with spinal fusion surgery, or any tips for that?

Edited by Elf

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Hi Elf,

I have no personal experience with spinal fusion (a close family member has had several but he doesn't dance) but I've had multiple injuries and other issues that affect my dancing and I know it can be hard to figure out what is and is not safe to do.  My recommendation is to find someone who is as skilled as my physiotherapist (mine is also a chiropractor).  This could be a physical therapist (not the same thing), an orthopedist, or a body worker.  But someone who really understands both hard and soft tissue and their limits.

There are two questions I see here.  Both for professionals who see you in person.  1) How much can you push yourself before there is an risk to your spine where your bones are fused (and to the vertebrae above and below the fusion, something my family member has painful experience with)? (your surgeon may be able to weigh in here); and 2) which structures need to compensate for the permanent lack of flexibility in your lower back in order to achieve  your dance goals, and how do you use them in a way that is safe and will not lead to injuries or other problems down the road? 

As someone in my 50's who has been dealing with dance and gymnastics injuries since my teens, I wish I had sought out the right kind of professional advice then so that my body would be in better shape now.  My mom took me to an orthopedist (when I had a hip injury) who treated the pain and inflammation but did not work at all with structural/body mechanics issues that could have reduced the pain I'm in now, decades later. 

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Hmmm I don't have vertebrae below the fusion, it starts at the pelvis and ends 4 vertebrae higher, my pelvis is also stuck with bone... and I don't think there's a risk for the bones, it's pretty stable. For the 2nd question I was mostly asking. I don't have any set goals either, cause I don't know my limits as I'm very new to dance. I think I'll talk to my teacher about it. I didn't think about asking a physical therapist, that's a good idea too. Thanks again!

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