Hadia's International Belly Dance Academy archive
Category: Anatomy of Dance

January 13, 2015

Three Cheers for the Power of Oriental Belly Dance!

Would you like to get Fast, Safe, and Effective Relief from Lower Back Pain?

If you think that this is a commercial for a Pain Medication or Muscle Relaxants, I have a surprise for you. This is waaay more FUN, it’s FREE and has absolutely No Nasty Side Effects to worry about! If you guessed that I am going to recommend an Oriental belly dance movement solution, Bravo! You are absolutely right.

If you are a professional dancer or teacher or just a super enthusiastic student and you dance daily, it is unlikely that you will suffer from back pain. But, if, in spite of your many hours of dance per week you still find that you have nagging lower back pain, my first recommendation is to check in and see if you are one of the many who contract your abdominal muscles to flatten out the natural curve of your lower back. Surprise! This actually creates rather than protects you from lower back pain. 

Lumbar vertebrae, nerves, dics
Lumbar vertebrae

Anatomy 101 time. The key concept here is that the natural forward curve of our lower back actually keeps our back healthy and happy by balancing the weight of our torso and upper body evenly between the main body of the vertebrae (see photo) and the two sliding joints at the back of the vertebrae. This avoids compression of the discs that are designed to cushion our movement between the vertebrae. If we flatten out the natural curve, this shifts all the upper body weight forward and compresses the dics, which can lead to nerve irritation, sciatica, bulging and eventually herniated discs. Believe me, you do NOT want this – OUCH!

If you already do suffer from any of the above, I highly recommend that you avoid sitting whenever possible, as this position automatically flattens out the natural Lumbar (lower back) curve and increases pressure on the discs.  If you are not familiar with my technique, then my #1 easy and quick solution is to do a virtually effortless, gentle pelvic rotation (sometimes called an “Omi”) by shifting one hip to the side, a very gentle pelvic tuck front by contracting both gluts, a shift to the other side and a relaxation into the neutral position that restores your natural lumbar curve. You can actually find this movement defined in the dictionary on my website, and you can have free access to a video demonstrating the movement simply by singing up with your name and email address. If you are familiar with my technique, i.e. my Body Logic for Bellydance – soon to be renamed SavvyBodyBellydance – then I also recommend my full torso open and close undulation movements, beginning with diagonal and eventually trying the front to back version. This is actually the best, simplest and completely free self-massage EVER!!

If you have a day job which requires lengthy periods of sitting then it is important to try to take regular quick breaks and do a front to back undulation while seated in your chair. This is tricky unless you seek to touch your elbows together in front of your chest (allowing a gentle slump and rocking back onto your tail bone) then opening the elbows and chest while rocking onto the front of your sit bone (belly button forward) and repeat several time with as little effort as possible.

If you have to commute to and from work with other passengers, you can do this in your car seat when it’s not your turn to drive.  If you do the driving, be sure to put a cushion or rolled up towel behind your lower back when seated to maintain your natural arch.

I hope that you found these little tricks and clarifications helpful in your dance and work day. You are also very welcome to share this info with your other dance friends.

Thanks again for your time, and feel free to comment or ask questions on Facebook and I will do my best to reply and clarify.

Until the next one… May you dancing keep you healthy, happy and young!!

-Hadia