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dancingymnast

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Hi! I'm new here. My DD is 11 years old and had been a competitive gymnast for the last 4 years. She recently had to quit because of the back issues. She had a stress fracture two years ago, which healed, but then 6 months later she had a stress reaction in the same spot (L5). Since then we tried everything - rest, physical therapy, massages, etc. - but her back was still hurting. Finally we made a decision to quit two months ago. She is still a little sore in her back, but it's a muscle pain, all her bones are fine, everything is healed.
She is a very active girl, and can't just sit around doing nothing. We've been trying to find a new sport for her, but she doesn't want to do anything. The only thing she wants to do besides gymnastics is dance. She's been taking a Jazz class this year, and it's been going great. As a former gymnast she is catching up dance quickly. So, she wants to take more classes next year - ballet, modern, hip-hop. But from what I'm reading dancers seem to be just as prone to the back injuries as gymnasts. Is dancing a bad idea for her? If you've been involved with dance for a while, how often do you see back injuries?
TIA

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My2DanceLoves

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We've been at our current studio for 7 years.  In that time this year is the first year I have seen a back injury in any of the dancers.  A bulging disk.  

But I am not sure what the odds are going in to dance with a pre-existing back injury.   I would talk to her doctor, PT and maybe even the SO if they are not aware she has had a problem.  Get as many professional opinions as possible. 
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dancingymnast

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Thank you. The last time we talked to her Sport's doctor, who is actually specializes more in dance than gymnastics, she said that ballet would be good for DD. She thought her problems were partially a result of incorrect posture, and ballet would teach her the right posture. But from what I'm reading online, it seems that ballet is actually bad for your lower back, because they have to arch a lot. Idk, maybe we need a second opinion.
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My2DanceLoves

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A second opinion never hurts!
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lovetowatch

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My dd quit ballet (intensive 6 day a week program) at 16 because of a bulging disk.  She did not dance at all for a year and then went back to just jazz her senior year with no problems.  Now that she is in college and not dancing at all, the pain has returned and her doctor thinks that part of the problem is lack of core strength from not dancing.  So dancing can help back problems by strengthening the core.  She is actually scheduled to have surgery this summer and her doctor indicated that while she could definitely dance again, that ballet would probably not be an option (at least not a serious way) due to arabesques putting too much pressure on the lower back.

ETA: ballet did not likely cause the bulging disk - it just was the activity in which she first noticed the pain. The source of the issue is unknown but likely something that would have happened, ballet or not.  Every doctor that see's her MRI exclaims, "she's so young!" for her 2 affected discs to look like they do.
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Mamala

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I would guess that it probably depends on what type of dance she wants to do. At my DD's competition studio, the competition "tricks" that many of the girls do would probably not be good for someone with a bad back... the acro, the jumps, the contorting your body into endless positions. But maybe doing certain types of dances without tricks would be ok. I'd check with a doctor first and then if she does start, let the SO know that she's limited with what type of choreography she's able to do.
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ballerinamom13

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Back problems are often started by lack of core strength.  I would get her into reformer Pilates as soon as possible. It's better than physical therapy and if you can go twice a week at first, you will see amazing results.  It's the best thing my dd did to stay healthy and I'm doing it now and I can't believe the difference it's made in how I feel. I need a knee replacement and my back and knees are painful 24/7.  Since I started going twice a week, I feel like a different person.  It's amazing.  Do some research about what Pilates can do for athletes and dancers in particular.
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dancingymnast

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thank you all! This has been very helpful.
DD is definitely not looking for intense ballet program. She just wants to take a few ballet classes to learn the basics. She does love acro tricks(which is what started her on the gymnastics path), but realizes that that might not be an option for her in the near future or ever. She does want to get on a competition team one day, but I understand that we would have to find a studio that would be willing to work around her limitations.

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dancingymnast

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ballerinamom13
Back problems are often started by lack of core strength.  I would get her into reformer Pilates as soon as possible. It's better than physical therapy and if you can go twice a week at first, you will see amazing results.  It's the best thing my dd did to stay healthy and I'm doing it now and I can't believe the difference it's made in how I feel. I need a knee replacement and my back and knees are painful 24/7.  Since I started going twice a week, I feel like a different person.  It's amazing.  Do some research about what Pilates can do for athletes and dancers in particular.


Thank you, I will look into that.
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PasDeChatMom

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Reply with quote  #10 
I second the Pilates suggestion. My daughter was having some back pain and mentioned it to her Pilates instructor and they both determined that the back pain was due to a lack of core strength and the fact that she was substituting one set of muscles for another set, which led to the back pain. The Pilates instructor helped her isolate which muscles she should be using for a given ballet exercise and she's been pain free ever since. Even though she's dancing six days per week, she still goes to Pilates at least once per week because it makes a noticeable difference in all aspects of her dance life. Good luck to your daughter!
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jazzminesun81

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Reply with quote  #11 
No back issues at our studio. In fact, the few injuries I've seen at our studio are among the dancers that also do tennis. Our studio puts a ton of emphasis on stretching and core strength, though, which I've heard has a lot to do with preventing injury. Lots of yoga/pilates in the warmup at our studio. I mentioned being concerned about risking injury with our pediatrician and she said that because DD8 takes so many varieties and also takes aerial which develops the muscles in many different directions, her risk would be much lower, even versus a child taking half the hours but all one genre or taking a similar load but without the aerial. She said it was about having the strength to support the movement.
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JulieDB

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Reply with quote  #12 
Very sorry.  My daughter had almost exactly this same thing but was slightly older.  She wound up taking ballet only for one year, then quit.  Pilates can help and she did do privates with the ballet teacher who also teaches that.  She just didn't really like Pilates.  And as she ages, she made new friends who weren't into dance so...  [frown]
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dancingymnast

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Reply with quote  #13 
Thanks again everyone for all your replies, advises, and personal stories!
Small update. We went to the Sports doctor this morning (I requested a different one this time). She basically confirmed what you guys told me - DD doesn't have enough strength in her core/gluts/back muscles, so the old injury site keeps getting irritated, thus pain persists. We scheduled another MRI just in case, but she doesn't think there is anything serious going on there. We'll need to do more PT to strengthen those muscle, and yes, she agreed that Pilates is a great idea, especially if we can get it one-on-one. So, in the doc's opinion, if we can get those core muscles strong enough, dance could be an option for DD.
I've already found a fitness studio nearby that offers pilates and core conditioning classes, we'll see how DD likes it. Private training is pricey though, so we'll start with the group classes. [smile]


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prancer

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Reply with quote  #14 
PT should help strengthen too if insurance covers that!
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emmasissy7

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Reply with quote  #15 
My dd (16) just started Pilates to strengthen her core and to help with a hip problem. She is hyper flexible but using her leg instead of core to whip the leg up. She was not able to jump into a class/group at the pilates studio. She is taking the one on one and will for a few months. The instructor said it is important that they learn how to do the moves correctly so your dd might benefit from a few private lessons. It is expensive but I can see a difference after only three weeks with dd. Good luck
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingymnast
Thanks again everyone for all your replies, advises, and personal stories!
Small update. We went to the Sports doctor this morning (I requested a different one this time). She basically confirmed what you guys told me - DD doesn't have enough strength in her core/gluts/back muscles, so the old injury site keeps getting irritated, thus pain persists. We scheduled another MRI just in case, but she doesn't think there is anything serious going on there. We'll need to do more PT to strengthen those muscle, and yes, she agreed that Pilates is a great idea, especially if we can get it one-on-one. So, in the doc's opinion, if we can get those core muscles strong enough, dance could be an option for DD.
I've already found a fitness studio nearby that offers pilates and core conditioning classes, we'll see how DD likes it. Private training is pricey though, so we'll start with the group classes. [smile]



If you are going to do group training, be sure to find a good teacher that will watch her to make sure she's doing it correctly.  If she isn't, she won't get the benefits.  Glad to hear it's nothing super serious.

ETA - I hadn't read the post above.  Exactly correct and many studios won't allow you to do groups until you learn the basics through privates.  It's expensive, but COMPLETELY worth it.
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