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March 21, 2012

Belly Dancing with Double Scoliosis

belly dancing with scoliosis

belly dancing with scoliosisA couple months ago I was judging a belly dance audition and the topic came up of a dancer who was in pain due to her scoliosis, and limiting her dancing becaaue of it. Scoliosis for those of us who have never heard of this before, is a medical condition where your spine rather than being straight, becomes curved (looks like an “S” on an x-ray usually). The curving of the spine causes pressure on the back and ribs and results in pain/abnormalities and stiffness of the back.

Usually in middle school screenings is when the condition is found amongst young teens, as it is during those growth spurt years that the spine can go haywire and curve during the rapid growth, and that was the case with me when I was 15. I was diagnosed with scoliosis and not just a light and common positioned one in the lower back, but a pretty mild one of 33 degrees at the time in the upper back! The pain was very intense throughout high school and definitely was felt all the time when I did marching band and other sports. It was very frustrating as doctors could not really do much, and nothing really helped to reduce the pain, or reduce the unevenness of my shoulders.

As a belly dancer the pain is always present but I have learned to ignore it. Giving into scoliosis will not help you achieve your goals. You cannot let it consume you. You just need to learn to live with it and do what you love. As I  have gotten older, my body has tried to balance out the pressure, resulting in double scoliosis believe it or not! Not only do I have a pretty deep curve at the top of my spine, but now I have one in my lower back as an attempt by nature to try and even things out!

Belly dancer with scoliosisAll I have to say is, yes…it is painful….yes your back is stiffer than most…but you CAN do it! Many of you have seen my crazy back bends and what not. Mind over matter is what I say! If you want to belly dance and your scoliosis is not at a dangerous state, be strong, and do what you love. I have learned to live with the pain, and don’t pay any attention to it anymore. If anything it has made me a better person believe it or not. My posture is impeccable at all times. Having perfect posture reduces the pain so I learned very quickly when I was 15 to just stand up straight to feel a little relief. Secondly, It has taught me to just “suck it up” as they say, and keep the complaints to myself. It is painful yes, but complaining about it and looking for sympathy won’t help, so just be strong.

There are exercises that one can do to help reduce some of the curvature. I am currently doing these and they are not only easy, but require 5 minutes of the day. You are more than welcome to call me for an explanation on how to do these. So hopefully in 6 months I can have less curvature. Another tip I was given recently is to strengthen your back muscles so that they pressure your spine to the center (an endeavor I will be attempting this spring break with circus arts courses).

So be strong, don’t give up, and take measures to try and reduce and maintain your spine. Where there is a will there is a way, and I know first hand how it feels with bad scoliosis. You are not alone, and you can do this!

8 Comments on “Belly Dancing with Double Scoliosis

Rachel
July 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I just happened to google scoliosis and belly dancing and came across your site. Perfect timing as I am struggling with scoliosis and was ready to give it up! Thanks for the encouragement! By the way, your dancing is mesmerizing!! Beautiful work!

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Jennifer
July 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Thank you so much Rachel! Do not give up girl! As you can see it is still possible just a little more care such as monthly chiropractor visits and glucosamine along with knowing your limits and fighting through the pain on those weak days. A little extra care and there is no reason to give up on the things that make you happy 🙂

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Faith
September 18, 2012 at 5:40 am

You go girl! I’m 20 with a 65 degree C curve in my lumbar/thoratic spine. I’ve danced for most of my life and am very active. I’ve decided to wait as long as I can for surgery, I’ve coped with the pain for over 8 years. The idea of loss of flexibility and the possibility of several surgeries is not appealing. So I cope with the pain with stretches. What are your current curves? How are you now?

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Jennifer
September 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thanks Faith! And kudos to you for continuing to be active and pushing through all the pain. I am not sure of my current curves exactly since i dont want to know how bad it is anymore lol. I know. For sure it is somewhere near forty for the top one, and twenty-30 on the lower one. Crazy enough i am pretty good. I dont pay it much attention when its stiff, i make sure to go to the chiropractor, get massages from my other half when it is very sore, and do lots of stretches, and that has allowed me to be in much better spinal health in the last year. How do you cope with the flashes of pain?

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Johanna Rediers
January 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Hi Jennifer, we met in Duisburg this year (folkloric section) ! I also have double scoliosis and had major surgery 16 years ago. Nevertheless doctors told me I would probably never dance again, I am doing it. And it is not only a passion, but a job 🙂 Due to surgery there is less mobility but I never gave up and motivate myself as much as possible. Love x Johanna

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jennifer
January 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Johanna! how are you dear? Wow i had no idea you suffered in this as well. Yes, stiffness and less mobility for sure, i can totally relate. I have not had surgery for it, and hope to do everything i can to keep it from happening. So glad you were able to continue your passion, i know it sucks some days for me, and is a constant pain in the butt, but so happy to meet another talented dancer who understands. muah! keep dancing and showing the world you can do it!

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Pamela
January 13, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I have scoliosis (all my life) of the upper back, lack a curve in my neck, one leg shorter, one shoulder higher and daily pain. I recently started belly dance classes (6 months ago) and just love it! I am also doing yoga to help with flexibility. Like you, I don’t give in to the pain! And I am pushing myself to do things I never thought I would do. I am now able to do some back bending yoga poses, although I don’t know if I will ever achieve a belly dancing back bend! And undulations are very hard for me, my back is very stiff with the scoliosis-induced arthritis and bone spurs. But I am getting better at it! Anyway, it is good to see others out there with the same thing who just suck it up like I do and enjoy life with a passion! Thanks for the inspiration!

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Jennifer
February 5, 2015 at 2:19 pm

I highly recommend you try bells rolls rather than undulations which use more of the spine. Belly rolls are even more impressive and all muscular with no reliance on using the spine to make them happen! Happy dancing, welcome to the bellydance community, and i am just like you…lack curve, i have upper and lower back scoliosis (upper is the worst pain), and because of it one leg, hip, and knee is always higher than other grrr. gotta love it jajaj

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