Treating dancers with back pain can be a whole different situation than treating ‘regular’ people, especially if it's not a stress fracture which can be seen on x-rays and scans. The most important part of treatment is, to find out the exact cause for the pain and how to manage it to avoid a return of the problem in the future.
Please read below for some common reasons of lower back pain in dancers:
Lower Back Pain in Dancers: Lordosis
So it’s not a stress fracture, why does my back hurt?
Dancers are quite flexible but we often find that they aren’t evenly flexible. There are 2 common patterns. One is where the dancer stands in an exaggerated sway back position, or lordosis.
If you tend to do this you will often be quite tight through the hip flexors. Stretching the hip flexors in the short term will allow you to adopt a better standing and moving posture.
In the long term you need to work on core control. This means using your core muscles to stabilise your back rather than your hip flexors which will stop them getting tight in the long run.
In turn this keeps your lower back in a better position.
The last thing you need to do is break the habit of standing with a sway back. Even with the strongest core and nice loose hip flexors if you don’t actively retrain your standing posture the back pain may return.
Lower Back Pain in Dancers: Equal Splits?
Yes, that’s right. Are your splits equal?
The second pattern we see in uneven flexibility is splits positions. Often dancers will favour their good splits side for performances. Consequently the good leg forward gets looser and looser whilst the more difficult leg forward stays the same.
When in a straight splits position you rely on loose hamstrings in the front leg and loose hip flexors in the back leg. As a result practising the splits on one side repeatedly can cause the hamstring and hip flexors on the opposite sides to be relatively less flexible.
This muscular tightness imbalance around the pelvis can lead to low back issues.
The solution for this one is fairly simple. Keep practising your bad splits to make sure each side stays fairly even.