How come everyone has a back problem?

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Ok – this is an entirely anecdotal observation, but so many people I know in the lindy hop community have back problems right now. A herniated disc, uncontrollable pain, pain medication that does nothing, MRIs on the horizon. What’s going on guys? Is it that we don’t listen to our bodies? When I had back surgery in 2009, I had a herniated disc between L4 and L5. I didn’t sleep for like five months. I lived with chronic pain for 8 months. I isolated myself. I stopped dancing at doctors orders and had no idea if I’d dance again.
In the end, after consulting specialists and my grandfather (who is still the best doctor I know) I had a laminectomy by a neurosurgeon in Toronto. I walked in pacing the floor because lying down was too painful and left with no pain – just soreness and recovery time. I will admit that I definitely threw up in Sunnybrook Hospital’s foyer, but hey, we can’t be classy all the time.

It’s incredible to think back to this time in my life. When shoes and socks felt defeating. I know something similar to your pain. Everyone’s treatment is unique to them, but please consult a doctor, get an MRI, demand you see specialists. You only get one back. Physiotherapy is great, but they can’t see what’s really going on. It’s a short term solution most of the time. (Again, my opinion).

In lindy hop, we seem to forget that many of us are ‘amateurs’ who practice or train at professional athlete volume. We don’t have the core strength, the best equipment, or the body awareness to know our limits or what our bodies need. I often think that we need some sport medicine practitioners to give us a lesson on how to take care of yourself when you dance 16 hours a day…but work a day job. Although it’s not always possible, ask your doctor, a dietitian, a sports medicine specialist how to make the most of your dancing and take care of your body. For me, I know that I need cross training. If I don’t do training in the gym, my knees and back get stiff. I also stretch my calves, my feet and my IT bands regularly. It’s the difference of waking up with stiff hips or with complete comfort. I am not a medical professional, but I am someone who’s been through trauma. Ask good questions, don’t only consult the internet, don’t only ask friends – get professional opinions and listen to those opinions. They may not ‘get’ how we practice, but at least they can help you prevent injury.

For my friends who are in pain right, take it ease. Meditate, swim, listen to your doctor. Know that you’ll be fine – it just takes time. If you need help, or support – ask! We’re all here.

2 thoughts on “How come everyone has a back problem?

  1. Dale Percy

    I remember your surgery, because I came to visit you that one time in Kensington during your convalescence. I felt so bad for what you were going through, and then later on in 2009, I experienced what it was like to have a sore back, when I got punched off the front of a Chevy Uplander, while I was exiting a 504 TTC at King and Strachan. Couple bouts of therapy, and I’m doing okay — moments before a thunderstorm and winter can be a little rough though — but my days of doing the lindy hop are definitely over.

    … of course, it’s not like I could do the lindy hop in the first place, seeing as I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. 😉

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