Have you ever been in the middle of dance practice, working on your technique and felt pain in your neck? Or perhaps you feel the pain after training and you wonder “Why does dancing hurt my neck?”. Unfortunately neck pain is known to happen for dancers, especially in certain movements that involve moving and turning the head quickly. When I started dancing I also wondered “why does dancing hurt my neck” so I began researching the topic and found many answers to this question. After trying the advice from many sources I finally found a few that worked best!
Neck pain from dancing can be due to excessive head movement and possible whiplash due to turning the head too quickly. It is recommended to warmup and stretch the neck, shoulder, and back before each practice. While dancing you should always engage your core on each movement to stabilize your body on all movements, this will help prevent many injuries since your core will prevent you from throwing off your center of balance.
After consistently warming up and engaging my core on every movement for each dance practice, I quickly noticed my neck pain reduced and not long after, I stopped having neck pain after dancing. Now no longer does dancing hurt my neck, lets go into detail on each of the tips that will help prevent neck pain during and after dancing.
Warming up will help get the blood flowing before practice and get your body ready for the movements it will perform. Not warming up before dance practice can often lead to injury due to your body just jumping into practice right away, it doesn’t have time to adjust. This has greatly helped me and no longer did dancing hurt my neck. With warming up you slowly wake your body up and prepare it for activity.
Some warmups include:
- Neck Turns: If you neck is not warmed up you can pull the muscles in the neck quite easily. To do this warm up, stand upright with good posture, head in a neutral position. Look right and then left, do this several times to warm your neck up. This will prepare it for the neck turns in normal dance routines.
- Shoulder Rolls: The shoulder rolls will help lower risk of neck and back injuries while your dance since they will stretch the muscles in the shoulder area and near the neck area. While standing upright, lift your shoulders up towards the ceiling, hold this for 2 seconds and lower them again. Do this for 10 repetitions.
- Leg Swings: You should also stretch the lower body and not just the upper. For this warm up, you can hold onto something, stand upright with one leg facing forward, lift the other leg, bend it a little as you swing it forward to the front of you. Do this 10 times for each leg.
- Choreography: After doing the above warm ups, you should start to do some simple dynamic movements, you can do some dance steps or routines, do them slowly to keep warming your body up and to get yourself ready to actually begin practice.
Stretch Before And After Practice
Another routine I added to my list is stretching before and after practice. This has been a huge factor in my success in reducing neck pain from dancing and after dancing. After I started stretching consistently before and after practice, no longer did dancing hurt my neck. Here are some stretches for you to try.
For this stretch, stand or sit upright with good posture and slowly lean your head to the right, then roll it back, then roll it to the left, and roll it forward. Do this for 10 repetitions and do it slowly so keep your neck safe. This will loosen the muscles in the neck and help get it ready for any neck movements in your dance routines. This should also be done after your dance practice, to loosen the muscles in the neck that were worked or that may be tense from practice.
This is an amazing and simple stretch that can be done anywhere and can be done quickly. Stand or sit upright with good posture, then place either your left or right hands fingers on your chin. Push your chin back while trying to keep your neck straight, hold this position for 2 seconds and then relax. You should feel a stretch in the back of your neck. Do this before and after practice.
These stretches are simple and effective and are the reason why no longer does dancing hurt my neck. For more of these stretches, check out the articles below for stretches that can help improve your life!
Engage Your Core
During your dances it is extremely important to keep your core engaged, having the core engaged with protect your posture and keep your body stable. While your core is engaged it will stop your balance from being thrown off by any sudden shifts in weight due to certain dance movements. When your body gets thrown off suddenly you can cause sudden jerks in the spine, this includes the neck and this can be a major reason as to why you’re experiencing neck pain.
It is suggested you strengthen your core and one amazing exercise for this is planks, doing planks for 5 to 10 minutes a day can greatly strengthen your core, improve posture, and increase stability while dancing. After doing this and focusing on my core during dance, no longer did dancing hurt my neck. Try to do this exercise daily and you’ll gain benefits for years in many areas of your life.
While dancing, try to always keep reminding yourself to engage your core, make this a habit and you will see major improvements in not just your neck pain but also in your overall dance technique.
Since I mentioned technique in the previous tip, this is a perfect time to go into technique in more depth. Proper form and technique is critical in all areas of athletic activity. When your technique is off, you can risk putting your body into uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, thus causing pain or injury.
While dancing, focus on your technique, many dance classes have you dancing in front of a mirror so you can see your form. Focus on each step of your routine having perfect form, if it isn’t perfect, try to slow down and work on perfecting the technique, even if it has to be before or after class. Improper technique was one major reason as to why dancing hurt my neck. It wasn’t so much that dancing hurt my neck, but my own improper form is what caused it.
Strengthen Your Neck
The last tip I have is to strengthen the neck. I suggest strengthening the neck only after your pain has been reduced or is gone, following the tips above will greatly help speed up this process. If you have previous neck injuries, I suggest consulting with a doctor first to get a professional opinion.
Strengthening the neck will help to prevent future neck injuries and will help protect the neck from any sudden movements that can cause stress to the neck, the muscles around the neck will protect the spine and discs within from the sudden movements and can also help prevent the neck from turning too much. The strength gained from doing neck exercises will help naturally stop the neck from over stretching during a quick accidently fall or turn. Strengthening my neck has been one of the biggest factors to stopping my neck pain and why no longer does dancing hurt my neck.
I suggest reading our article that goes in-depth on how to strengthen your neck in general, these exercises will not only help heal neck pain but will also help prevent it from happening again in the future.
After consistently following these tips for at least a few weeks you should no longer have neck pain when dancing. I personally have followed all of these tips and no longer does dancing hurt my neck. If you still find yourself having neck pain after a couple weeks, I suggest seeing your doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and figure out what your specific situation is and how to solve it.
Neck pain from dancing is usually minor and nothing serious but there are some cases where people have previous injuries or new injuries that suddenly happen, I have two herniated discs in my neck due to sports injuries and I am able to dance pain free. When you follow all the tips I shared above, you will have a similar experience to me and no longer will you have to ask “Why does dancing hurt my neck?”.