Dancing, Done Properly, Is Good Exercise

OSWEGO, NY – Dancing seems to be on a lot of people’s minds lately.

There are dance recitals, Dancing With the Stars Oswego style, dancing lessons being offered to adults at USOswego and dancing lessons being offered by other groups.

spinal column
spinal column

This is also the peak wedding season during which time many dust off their dress shoes and hit the dance floor.

There seems to be a heightened interest in dancing.

This could probably be attributed to the many shows on TV involving dancing which seem to have a very large audience and high Nielson ratings among which are Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can dance.

“So,” you might be thinking, “what is the connection between that and chiropractics?”

The connections are two fold: First, patient interest. Several patients have commented that they saw chiropractors on the show “Dancing With The Stars” in the segments where they show the stars practicing.

They want to know why the chiropractors are there and why there are so many injuries.

Secondly: I am interested in your physical and mental well being and dancing can be a wonderful form of exercise if done with your health and physical fitness in mind.

NFL superstar Jerry Rice made the comment that: “Dancing with the stars was every bit as exhausting and challenging – though not nearly as brutal as football. It required many hours of practice. I had aches and pains that I never had before. Again, chiropractic made the difference – and kept me dancing and in competition.”

The chiropractors treated the injuries as they occurred, but what you didn’t see is the patient education. Education is an important part of what we chiropractors do.

I am sure, at a later point, they watched the patient dancing and educated the patient on good body mechanics, relaxation and stretching techniques as well as how to strengthen core muscles to prevent neck and shoulder strain and back pain etc.

The reason there are a great many injuries on that program is that the professional dancers have a great deal of experience and training behind them.

They do many exercises and have a well developed core.

They have practiced for many hours every day for years and have built up their stamina.

In comes a celebrity dancer many of whom have not had such a regiment and have not built up to the challenge.

There are a few exceptions including, but not limited to, the Olympians and other professional athletes. Even in those cases, they may have the endurance, core strength and fitness, but they are using their muscles differently and using some muscles that are less developed.

Now factor in working with a partner.

This is another element which can cause accidents, a wrong twist, turn, lift etc.

Add to that the intensity of practicing 10 plus hours, 7 days a week.

Each factor is a discussion in itself.

Most of us do not dance 10 hours a day. We are recreational dancers. Dancing is a wonderful form of exercise, providing an excellent low-impact aerobic workout.

It improves posture, increases circulation, strengthens weight bearing bones, and increases flexibility, to name only a few of the advantages.

It holds great appeal for many who get bored with traditional exercise and appeals to every age group.

Because there are many forms of dance from very slow to highly intensive, it allows people with medical conditions and people with osteoporosis to tailor their time and intensity to give them a good workout.

Dancing burns between 200 and 450 calories an hour.

There are some considerations that will make that next dancing opportunity pleasurable and safe:

If you have any health problems check with your chiropractor or MD first. They will advise you on your limitations, and the precautions to take to have a safe and pleasurable experience.

Choose a dance style that is appropriate to your level of fitness and stamina. We cannot start out by performing a dance and movements that we have seen performed by someone who has been dancing for a long time.

Remember, they eased into it also. There are many dance lessons given in our area, some of which are free. If you are serious about dancing a lot take advantage of these. The instructors will advise you, start you out slowly and build you up in skill level.

The other advantage is they will     watch you and correct you on your form when needed. Doing your moves with poor form leads to injury.

Always, warm up and stretch out.

Drink extra water. I know you have heard me say this in other context, but the same holds true here. No, coffee, tea and other caffeine products do not count as they deplete the system of water.

Drink water before, during and after. As much fun as dancing is, you sweat and lose water.

Make sure you wear the proper shoes for the kind of dancing you will be doing. If they pinch and hurt when you put them on, that will not improve. Heels that are too high, or that do not enclose your foot (ex. flip flops and clogs) will lead to poor form and all too often sprained or broken ankles, muscle pulls, etc.

Make sure you hold the correct form for the dance you are doing. If you get tired take a break. When you become fatigued your form becomes sloppy, and that is when injuries are at their highest.

This is true whether you are dancing alone or partner dancing.

In athletes it is called overtraining. Overuse can lead to serious injury.

As you have heard me say over and over, listen to your body!

Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.  If you are tired or you are experiencing muscle soreness and/or pain stop and rest.

If you have pain, our office can help you.

Chiropractic care is much more than the treatment of back pain.

It is about fixing your problem, helping you to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system and educating you about exercises and injury prevention.

Dancing can be good for us mentally and physically.

A little pre-thought and planning can make the experience a lot of fun.

McCaffrey Chiropractic cares about keeping you happy and healthy!

Dr. McCaffrey practices at McCaffrey Chiropractic, 184 W. Fourth St., phone 342-3877.