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!