“How to beat aches and pains if you enjoy dancing”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
A fun social activity as well as great aerobic exercise, dancing is more popular than ever.
Whether you like the honky-tonk of country dancing, the spirited swirling of square dancing, or prefer the more sedate atmosphere of ballroom dancing, there is a type of dancing for every one.
One of my kids loves jazz, tap, and hip hop… so even the youngsters are into it.
But with the fun and exuberance of the different steps and body movements of dancing comes… PAIN!
Dancing is a set up for neck pain. The hours spent whirling around particularly if you do the type of dance where there is a lot of impact… Irish dancing, tap can lead to neck strain. This causes muscle aches in the neck and shoulders. You can also get headaches. So what do you do? Well, first, recognize that this is going to happen if you don’t take breaks. It’s a good idea to stretch before and after you dance. Remember… dancing is an active sport!
Your shoulders can also hurt. When you dance with your arms held in one position… and especially if you dance with your arms above shoulder level, you can run into a problem called impingement syndrome. This is when your rotator cuff tendons get pinched. It’s a common problem. Specific stretching exercises for the shoulder before and after you do any type of activity that requires arm movement should help. Also, make sure you take breaks. Ice packs after you dance sometimes help with the pain as do over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
Elbow pain is a common problem after any type of repetitive arm motion. Some forms of folk dancing require this and it can lead to painful condition called lateral epicondylitis. This is a type of tendonitis that affects the outside part of the elbow. Stretching before you dance can help as can stretching and ice after you dance. Anti-inflammatory medicines, an elbow band, and physical therapy also can help. Do not get a cortisone injection. Cortisone weakens tendon tissue. Instead, get an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This is a concentrate of your own blood that contains a lot of platelets, cells that are packed with growth and healing factors. PRP actually makes new tendon tissue.
Hand and wrist pain is another common problem that can develop when you do any type of dance where there is partner interaction with the hands and wrists. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve into the hand gets pinched. This causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand. Treatment consists of physical therapy, a splint, and sometime injecting with steroid. In some instances, surgery is required. Different forms of tendonitis can also develop after dancing. You can get trigger finger where the finger seems to stick. A painful tendonitis of the thumb can also be a result of dancing.
Low back pain can come on from standing too long in one place or by lifting and carrying heavy articles. So make sure you pick a light partner if you’re going to have to lift or carry her. Or at least make sure she goes on a diet… just kidding. Make sure you lift with your legs. You may need to go down on one knee before you lift. Keep your back straight and your head up. Test the person you’re going to lift before you lift. Be sure you’re in good shape. Don’t twist. Stretch before you dance and also afterward. Use ice packs if you strain your back. Over the counter medication can sometimes help also. See your doctor if the pain is severe or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
Knee pain can result if you’re not careful when you dance. Be careful not to go down too long or with too much weight. Impact loading type of dancing can hurt your knees. Also, pivoting motions can cause problems for your knees. Ice on your knees after you dance is a good idea. Make sure you keep a towel between your skin and the ice pack.
Obviously, comfortable, well fitted shoes are important. You need special shoes for tap. And if you’re vigorous with your dance the chance of ankle or foot injury is increased. It’s not uncommon to twist an ankle and get a strain or sprain. Tendonitis can develop in the feet as can stress fractures. If you have flat feet, the possibility of injury increases. Any pain that does not get better within one to two days should be brought to the attention of a knowledgeable physician.
One long term consequence is osteoarthritis in the feet.
If you have chronic aches and pains that don’t go away, you should see a rheumatologist.
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