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Dancing: A Blessing or Curse for Scoliosis? Is Dancing Bad for Scoliosis?

Dancing: A Blessing or Curse for Scoliosis? Is Dancing Bad for Scoliosis?

We’re all familiar with the saying “Dance like no one is watching.” Well, if you’re a scoliosis patient, this statement takes on a whole new meaning and askes the question, "Is dancing bad for scoliosis"?


If you have the condition, that often means constant attention to form and technique. It also might mean curbing certain dance moves or styles of dance. You may need to be more cautious about what movements are allowed, how fast you move, and whether the movement is repeated. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert dancer, knowing about it can help you be aware of your spine’s condition and take precautions when necessary. In this blog, we will discuss the relationship between scoliosis and dancing as well as ways to minimize its adverse effects on your body.

Do Dance and Gymnastics Contribute to Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that can be progressive or non-progressive. It is a structural condition of the spine where one side of the spine has a greater curvature than the other. It can affect children and adults alike, but frequently occurs in young people between the ages of 10 and 15 years.


Dance and ballet are popular forms of physical activity for many people. However, research suggests that these activities may increase the risk of it in those with the condition. In particular, ballet does not help the condition, but it can increase the risk of progression, due to frequent back bends.

Another reason why dance and ballet may contribute to the condition is due to their emphasis on hyperextension of the back. This can lead to severe spinal curvature and could worsen the spinal curve.

It is vital to maintain good core strength and alignment when pursuing dance or ballet as any movements that increase hypermobility in the back could contribute to curve progression.

Are there any styles of dance which should be avoided?

Those with the condition must be careful about taking part in dancing activities. Ballet can increase the risk of developing the condition, so it is important to exercise caution when starting a new dance activity. Gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics are also potentially harmful if done incorrectly. Some types of dance may be better suited to dancer with it than others, depending on the severity of their condition. In some cases, extra effort may be required to ensure that a dancer with the condition can perform professionally as a ballet dancer. However, taking part in dancing activities is beneficial for all dancers and can help promote overall health and well-being.

Why does ballet increase the risk of scoliosis?

Some young dancers are taught or pressured into looking a certain way while they are training to be a dancer. This can lead to higher body weight, which may in turn increase the risk in some individuals. Additionally, ballet training has been linked to an increased risk due to the movements being done regularly at the same developmental age. Adolescent and adult dancers are considered at a higher risk of getting scoliosis compared to those who do not dance. This is likely due to their continued training and physical demands over time. The high physical demands of ballet dancing can also contribute to the risk of developing scoliosis.

Scoliosis Causes

When the condition develops without a know cause, it is known as an idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition where the spine develops an abnormal curvature due to patterns of genetic variants that affect neurotransmitter and hormone production during periods of rapid growth.


Scoliosis Symptoms

The condition can be diagnosed as congenital (from birth), infantile (developed in infancy), juvenile (developed at a young age), adolescent scoliosis, and adult scoliosis, depending on the age of diagnosis. The severity of scoliosis is based on the Cobb angle, with mild to moderate ranging from 16-24 degrees, moderate from 25-34 degrees, moderate to severe from 35-44 degrees, severe from 45-59 degrees, and very severe from 60 degrees or more. Treatment for scoliosis utilizes bracing and surgery in varying forms depending upon the severity of the curvature. Bracing is a method used to help maintain spine alignment by providing support and stability, while surgery may be considered in cases where a drastic curvature cannot be corrected with bracing or if the condition has caused important symptoms such as impaired mobility or breathing difficulties.

Scoliosis Prevention

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves to one side more than the other. It can occur in both children and adults, though it is most common in those between the ages of 10 and 14. To check for scoliosis, an X-ray can be taken to determine how severe the curve is, with anything over 30 degrees considered moderate. If a child has moderate scoliosis, a back brace may be worn to help prevent it from progressing. This brace allows the child to use his or her body’s natural curves to strengthen and develop healthy posture. Specific exercises that target rotation like those from ScoliSMART, Pilates, Yoga, or the Schroth Method may also be effective.


Mild Scoliosis

Mild scoliosis is characterized by a Cobb angle between 10-24 degrees. This is a mild form of the condition. It is seen on an x-ray and may be present at birth or develop later in life, most commonly during adolescence and young adulthood.


Mild scoliosis does not usually require medical treatment. It can be successfully managed with physical therapy and exercises, such as swimming, dancing, walking and cycling. However, can mild scoliosis can sometimes be caused by activities? Is dancing bad for scoliosis? The answer is "no". Dancing is no bad for mild scoliosis.


In mild scoliosis, the Cobb angle doesn't change significantly over time. However, if the curve becomes more severe over time and the Cobb angle increases substantially. Severe curves are associated with breathing difficulties, leg pain and injuries to organs such as the heart and lungs.

Mild scoliosis is typically seen in people who participate in activities that place strain on their spine, including ballet dancers, gymnasts and swimmers.

Moderate/Severe Curvature

- The condition is a spine curvature of more than 30 degrees and over 50 degrees and is a result of uneven growth between the spine and spinal cord.

- Adolescent dancers, especially those who perform ballet, are at higher risk of developing the condition than nondancers of the same age.

- The condition is caused by body misalignments that develop in childhood or adolescence.

- Dancers can develop a spinal curve for several reasons such as spinal misalignment during training, genetic factors, or injury.

- In adults, the condition can be a result of vertebral compression fractures. This can occur from osteoporosis or bone spurs on the bone causing it to break or become thinner.

- It isn’t a death sentence and is treatable with surgery if detected early enough.

Does scoliosis affect dance training? How?

The condition can increase the risk of joint hypermobility, which may pose a challenge to a dancer training in pointe ballet. Gymnastics, ballet, and rhythmic gymnastics all have risk factors for joint hypermobility, so dancers with scoliosis must be careful about how they perform. While it is possible to dance with scoliosis, it can be challenging and may require extra effort in focusing on core strength and alignment of the hips and shoulders. Generally, dancers with the condition must focus on training specific strength and mobility exercises to improve their posture and performance. With proper training, it can be managed and dancers can still achieve their goals.

Is it a good idea to keep dancing if scoliosis is diagnosed? Is dancing bad for scoliosis?

- It is possible to continue dancing with scoliosis, as demonstrated by Wendy Whelan. She successfully answered the question "Is dancing bad for scoliosis?".

- It is important to avoid certain movements which can aggravate the condition, such as repeated back bends, which can increase the risk of spine or joint damage.

- Instead, dancers with the condition should focus on exercises that strengthen their core and improve posture. These can help them maintain a healthy spine and reduce the risk of developing it.

- Restricting activities a dancer loves can be psychologically damaging and lead to abandonment of scoliosis treatment. Thus, it is important for dancers with it to be aware of their condition and any potential complications so they can make informed decisions about their treatment options.

An understanding of the condition and its complications is necessary for dancers with it to make informed decisions about their treatment options and enjoy all that dancing has to offer safely.


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