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Why does my back hurt after class?


Guest Lucille

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Guest Lucille

Hi,

I've noticed that my lower back is sore sometimes after ballet class, even when I am very careful to try to stay aligned. Yesterday, I took two classes in addition to the two yoga classes I taught in the morning. (I demonstrate about 1/2 the time in those classes.) That evening my back was really aching.

 

Anybody have experience with this? I'm not sure if it was just overexertion in this case or if I still have some alignment issues that are affecting my back?

 

Do you think it is normal for the back to get sore like any other muscle group - like inner thighs and quads? Or is this an indicator of improper spine alignment?

 

I try really hard to stay tucked and adjust to my teacher's corrections, but I still wonder if I am doing something wrong and if this could affect me in the long run?

 

Thanks!

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  • Administrators

Hello Lucille, welcome to Ballet Alert! Online, and especially to the Adult Ballet Students' forum :D

 

There could be many things causing the problem, depending on whether it is muscular or skeletal, and there is really no way to know without a doctor's assessment. However, I will say one thing about something you mentioned, and that is "...stay tucked...". If you are tucking your pelvis under, that very well could be the problem right there! Using the buttocks muscles and "tucking" are two different things, and one should never tuck under. This is totally incorrect alignment, for ballet, or anything else.

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Guest Lucille

Hi,

That's an interesting comment you made about tucking under. I have always heard and read that it is incorrect, however, because my back is naturally on the swayback side, anything I do to correct the angle feels like "tucking under".

 

How do I know when I have gone too far - from straitening out my back to actually tucking under? Since my bottom is protrudes a bit, I suppose it might be harder for my teacher to catch the tucking - if that is what I am actually doing.

 

When you mention using the buttocks muscles, are you referring to the rotators? I have heard that the gluteus maximus should not be contracted in ballet and that it can lead to overdevelopment of the muscle.

 

Thanks for your insight and advice!

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Sorry, Lucille, but one really cannot correct placement on line. Without seeing you, it's impossible. That's what your teacher is there for! ;)

 

There are rotator muscles inside the gluteus maximus. If the buttocks muscles are left hanging loose, the rotators will not work. They must not be gripped or tucked, but they certainly have to be used! If your pelvic bones are moving forward, you are tucking. If your glutes are totally contracted you will not move at all, which is certainly not a good thing. However, they must be somewhat contracted or the muscles are just loose and not working. They must work to support you and to make full use of your rotation. Sorry, that is as much of an explanation as I can come up with in this format. It's very easy to show, but not so easy to write :(

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Hi (and nice to meet you, Lucille :))

 

I'm finding I've got the same problem. My back muscles are often somewhat sore after class - I just thought this is normal.

 

More specifically, my back is rather inflexible, especially with back bends and arabesques. I've been assuming that the back muscles will have to work quite a lot to keep the upper body erect while raising the working leg in the back. I notice the exertion also in things like battement tendu jete or low relevés lents to the back, when the leg lifts only 45 degrees and I don't get to release the back a bit like in grand battements. And, of course, my arabesques aren't all that pretty since my back doesn't bend enough to allow the leg to lift properly.

 

Ms. Leigh, I was wondering if I might be working incorrectly in this respect? Is it supposed to be easier on the back muscles? Since I haven't gotten any corrections on my placement with regard to this issue, I don't think I'm doing anything very visibly wrong, but still.. :rolleyes:

 

Thank you very much for any advice!

 

- Sanna

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Sanna, make sure that you are using the abs and also adjusting your weight slightly forward and upward when you lift your leg to the back. Also, do not try to keep the hips perfectly square, as that will prohibit rotation and extension, and make the back hurt even more. The hip of the working leg will need to open slightly in most people, even at 45 to 60º. It does not lift, but it does open. Keep as minimal as possible, of course. For higher extension it may have to open more. Keep the shoulders square though!

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Thanks, Ms. Leigh, it seems that I've been trying to do it wrong after all.. :rolleyes:

 

(I think I've got the abs and the body weight, sort of. I think I have been trying too hard to keep my hips perfectly square in the low extensions, not realizing that this may not be possible, and then doing excess work with both my abs and my back muscles. One more thing to keep in mind in my next class, yea :) )

 

- Sanna

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest karenfixe

Hi,

 

I've been dancing now for over 20 yrs and through all the moving around the country, my teachers have always commented on my excellent technique. Recently, over the last 3 months, I've had constant lower back pain. It seems to disappear during the day and while dancing and comes out to bite me in the middle of the night. The muscle spasms were so bad at one point, that it woke me from a deep sleep and I had trouble breathing through it!

 

I thought it could've been from a fall I had last October in class. I was doing a foutte en l'air and my foot slipped out from under me. I bruised the ulner nerve in my right hand and had a nice black and blue mark on my right cheekbone. Other than that, I considered myself incredibly lucky to not have broken my nose or teeth for that matter!

 

Last week I finally got in to get an MRI. The doctor read the report and the films and told me I've got two bulging disks in my lower back as well as arthritis in one joint where there is NO cartilage left! Well, I was incredibly shocked, considering I just turned 35. So, now I cannot do the back cambre's anymore while warming up and have to be careful about my lower back bearing a lot of upper body weight.

 

This is so frustrating, because I'm finally achieving some degree of flexibility in my back and when warmed up, I can get my arabesque to 90 degrees. sigh... I don't like this aging thing.

 

Ms. Leigh, do you have any suggestions?

 

Karen

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I wish I did, Karen! I'm also having back problems right now, which I have never had before. In your case, with that diagnosis, I would have no idea. What did the doctor say about continuing to dance? How about physical therapy?

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Guest karenfixe

I had a serious talk with my doctor about "quality of life" issues. Namely, that I do NOT want to give up dancing, skiing, or tennis. He said I don't have to if I do some physical therapy now to strengthen the muscles in my lower back. :D

 

So, I can still dance, but I have to remember to ice down afterwards as well as take a vioxx. (Jeez, I'm gettin' old). It was kind of funny as he tried to imitate some of the things I do in class, such as an arabesque. He thought the leg was held in place by putting strain on the lower back and realized real quick that it's your glutes and other muscles that hold the position. (Trust me, it was pretty funny to see him grab his butt cheek and say "Ow!").

 

Right now, if it hurts to do something or bend in a certain way, then I dont' do it. Like I said, when warmed up, I feel great! I'm careful to do grande battments to the back, but I can still acheive more than 90 degrees. sigh...

 

I hope your back feels better soon too!

 

Karen

 

ps. For everyone reading this thread... If you have back pain that persists after 2 wks and especially after 12 weeks, you MUST see a doctor! If it persists after 12 weeks, the chances of any problems healing up rapidly diminish.

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Karen, your advice for others in your fix (sorry!;) ) is absolutely superior. In addition, you're doing something valuable by going to your doctor. Obviously, he had not dealt with many dancers before, and you provided him with a valuable learning experience. When I was in the hospital, my doctors were remarking about the state of my muscles and the rapidity of my healing - I told them that I was a ballet teacher, and that the Harkness Center was right in town, and that they should look in on them for insights on treating dancers. When I went back for a postop checkup, they said, "We went, and it's a whole different world of medicine! Wonderful!":)

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Guest wxKathy

Hello,

I am new to this forum. I am 38 and have danced ballet for 30 years. In the last year, my lower back has been hurting after ballet class. Like others, I have eliminated arabesque, grand battement to the back and back bends. Is it also a good idea not to do jumps? I want to keep dancing even if it means "not dancing" some parts of class. Right now, my back hurts so much after class that I am reluctant to go and I miss dancing. Thank you for this forum and for your advice.

 

Kathy

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Guest karenfixe

Hi Kathy,

 

I'm glad you responded to this thread (I'm not the only 30-something out here). :P The one jump I'm a little concerned about it tour-jete's, especially if you have to land it ouverte (sp). Last night, I had the best class I've had in weeks! We did lots of grand allegro and when I was warmed up, I just kept remembering good placement.

 

As far as barre work goes, my doctor said NOT to do cambre forward because your lower back is bearing all the load till you get to the bottom. I did cambre's forward last night, but made sure to plie while down there and roll up as an alternative. I believe it stretched out the muscles a little better.

 

I do know that my weight is playing a factor in my lower back issues as well. I don't know if that's an issue for you... but I'm thinking that if I drop some of my extra weight, it might make a difference. Stay tuned and I'll keep you updated on my progress.

 

Karen

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Hello Kathy, welcome to the Adult Ballet Students' forum here on Ballet Alert! Online :P

 

It might be best to find out the cause and actually injury that you have sustained, in terms of trying to decide what can be done in class and what cannot. If it is muscular, and improves in a week or two of not doing certain things, then great, however, if there is damage somewhere that can be treated, perhaps seeing a physician or chiropractor would be good.

 

As to jumps, if they hurt, don't do them! Pain is the indicator here, and any moves that cause pain should be eliminated, at least until you find out what the problem is.

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Guest wxKathy

Thank you for your replies and your welcome!

I have been to Doctor and Chiropractor. Perhaps another visit to them. I had pain a year ago and then it went away for about 6 months. Now it's back. Yes - weight gain. The 30's have brought me some metabolism changes, especially in the last year and I do believe it is factor too. Thanks for your tip on Cambre forward.

 

I look forward to this group as there is not a lot of support for dancers of this age - at least - I am the only 30-something in my class! But there is one lady who is about 60 who comes! We take with the teenages since there are only two of us and not enough for a separate adult class! So as long as she comes, I will keep coming!

 

Best wishes,

 

Kathy

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