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  1. #1
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Student with flat lower back?

    I have a brand-new student whose pelvis is completely straight up and down.

    I do an exercise with new students in which I have them lie on the floor and press their lower backs toward the floor in order to discover the muscles that are engaged to hold the pelvis neutral.

    When this student lays on the floor fully relaxed, there is no space between her lower back and the floor. She has no lordotic curve at all.

    Which is fine, her pelvis is already neutral, right? Except without that light engagement of the muscles that the rest of us use to hold our pelvises neutral, won't she lose some resistance and gooeyness of movement?

    Should I still teach her to have that light engagement around the front of her pelvis? Won't that create an overtucked position?

    Also, I'm wondering about the health of her lower back in general and how to keep her safe in class? also when we progress to undulations (we'll begin this week) will she need to actively tilt her pelvis more than the others to get the same appearance of motion?

    Hmmmmmmm... off to do some research, but wondered if anyone here has experience with this issue specific to bellydance? And whether there are other considerations for me to think about?


  2. #2
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    I don't know, but you can still engage there without tucking necessarily. The notion of lifting the soft spot above the pubic bone a tiny tiny bit towards the shoulder blades could help.

    With undulations, I used to teach "release" rather than "drop" to start. You do have to drop. Just don't throw your butt out.

    I don't have a lot of lordotic curve. These things wok for me.


  3. #3
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Lauren, my whole spine has hardly any curve at all.

    I have a "military neck" (in some x-rays it actually looks like it is curving a bit in the wrong direction), very little thoracic curve, and very little lumbar curve. Also, I have been told by Dr.'s at different points in my life that my sacral joint is partially fused in a place that most people's is not (sorry, don't remember the details of this).

    The neck has caused me lots of issues (mostly mitigated now), but my lower back has never caused me any serious problems.

    That being said, I feel that I have had to work extra hard to make my undulations show up.


  4. #4
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    OK, reassuring....


    Maybe for the undulations I should advise her to stress the abdominal action, almost like a belly roll but without restricting the skeletal action. (I teach it that way anyway at a certain point, though, so maybe I don't need to do anything special with her at all)


  5. #5
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Quote Originally Posted by zumarrad View Post
    I don't know, but you can still engage there without tucking necessarily. The notion of lifting the soft spot above the pubic bone a tiny tiny bit towards the shoulder blades could help.
    .
    Thank you. I usually teach lifting the pubic bone itself toward the navel, but I don't think she should try to lift hers. I'll work with this idea instead for her.


  6. #6
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    Thank you. I usually teach lifting the pubic bone itself toward the navel, but I don't think she should try to lift hers. I'll work with this idea instead for her.
    How old is she, what is her overall fitness level, and do you know if she has any history of back problems?

    If she is fit, relatively young, and has never had back problems, I wouldn't worry about it. You might just tell her that you would like to know if she is experiencing any discomfort.

    Pelvic tucks, undulations, omi's etc. have never caused me any problems.


  7. #7
    Established BHUZzer Anthea Kawakib Poole's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    That's how mine was when I started, and for years afterwards. It did finally develop a curve, but that's exactly where I have daily pain from arthritis. It's a weak spot & goes "out" easily. I use my upside-down table to unkink it after working or dancing, and that helps me.

    But she does not need to "tuck" obviously, only people who have an over-curved spine (where you see their butts sticking out) should actively "tuck" their pelvis. The pelvis needs to be centered for normal, or neutral position for bellydance and actually just in general.

    I don't know how flexible she is, but she'll have to focus on getting an arch in the pelvic area of her spine for undulations, and maybe even just to correct her posture in neutral position.
    Can you share what you find out online?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    I have a brand-new student whose pelvis is completely straight up and down.

    I do an exercise with new students in which I have them lie on the floor and press their lower backs toward the floor in order to discover the muscles that are engaged to hold the pelvis neutral.

    When this student lays on the floor fully relaxed, there is no space between her lower back and the floor. She has no lordotic curve at all.

    Which is fine, her pelvis is already neutral, right? Except without that light engagement of the muscles that the rest of us use to hold our pelvises neutral, won't she lose some resistance and gooeyness of movement?

    Should I still teach her to have that light engagement around the front of her pelvis? Won't that create an overtucked position?

    Also, I'm wondering about the health of her lower back in general and how to keep her safe in class? also when we progress to undulations (we'll begin this week) will she need to actively tilt her pelvis more than the others to get the same appearance of motion?

    Hmmmmmmm... off to do some research, but wondered if anyone here has experience with this issue specific to bellydance? And whether there are other considerations for me to think about?


  8. #8
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Quote Originally Posted by anthea View Post
    Can you share what you find out online?
    I learned that there is a flatback 'condition' or syndrome that may be a cause of pain or may be secondary to other conditions that cause pain.

    Since my student isn't in pain and that would be outside my area of expertise anyway, I abandoned that line of inquiry.

    The only information I found relevant to the flat lower back and teaching movement was that she may have tight hamstrings and relatively long/weak hip flexors. Also her rectus abdominus is likely to be very developed, at the expense of other abdominal muscles. I'll watch to see if any of those things seem to be true and seem to affect her ability to execute dance movements. If so, I may recommend some exercises/stretches for her. If not I won't worry about it.


  9. #9
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssipes View Post
    If she is fit, relatively young, and has never had back problems, I wouldn't worry about it. You might just tell her that you would like to know if she is experiencing any discomfort.
    She is those things. I think this is exactly how I'll proceed and armed with the knowledge of what her muscular imbalances may be I feel ready to deal with any minor issues that arise.

    Reassuring to know that long-term bellydancers with flattish lower backs have thrived without issue. I'll share that info with her, too.


  10. #10
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    You are welcome to examine, poke and prod at my back when we see each other at the Sahra workshop, to see if my back is anything like her back.


  11. #11
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssipes View Post
    You are welcome to examine, poke and prod at my back when we see each other at the Sahra workshop, to see if my back is anything like her back.
    LOL if I'm squinting sideways at you in class, it just means I'm studying your movement!


  12. #12
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    If you look at quite a few of the Egyptian dancers- Fifi Abdo, Nagua Fouad, Souheir Zaki, Shoo Shoo Amin for example- their spines are naturally more straight. Others, too- Raqia Hassan, Randa Kamal. Some have more booty cushion than others, but the lumbar spin itself quite straight. I see this straight spine in my daughter- and she gets that from her Italian side of the family, not me. Leila of Cairo also has a naturally straight spine. Look at them when they're standing or walking normally. You'll see it. They don't have to do anything to their back for their dance posture.
    There are to a certain degree body types by region (with diversity of course!)... but many westerners have a more curvy lower back than many Mediterraneans. I've had lengthy conversations about this with my physical therapist and with a doctor who did his thesis on regional variation of the spine.
    I have to deal a lot with lower back (teaching Pilates). Just as there are some people who don't have to work to get their back flat on the floor, there are some who simply CAN'T. If they can't it's usually a combination of lower back curve and generous glute muscles. It's all within natural variation.
    Those of us with curvier lower backs have to work harder at neutral pelvis. Those with a straight back don't (provided it's a healthy variation). A naturally straight back can have the same flexibility as OR the same tightness issues as a naturally curved back. Undulations may be more challenging for her, but not necessarily dangerous.


  13. #13
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    Quote Originally Posted by SamiraShuruk View Post
    If you look at quite a few of the Egyptian dancers- Fifi Abdo, Nagua Fouad, Souheir Zaki, Shoo Shoo Amin for example- their spines are naturally more straight. Others, too- Raqia Hassan, Randa Kamal. Some have more booty cushion than others, but the lumbar spin itself quite straight. I see this straight spine in my daughter- and she gets that from her Italian side of the family, not me. Leila of Cairo also has a naturally straight spine. Look at them when they're standing or walking normally. You'll see it. They don't have to do anything to their back for their dance posture.
    There are to a certain degree body types by region (with diversity of course!)... but many westerners have a more curvy lower back than many Mediterraneans. I've had lengthy conversations about this with my physical therapist and with a doctor who did his thesis on regional variation of the spine.
    I have to deal a lot with lower back (teaching Pilates). Just as there are some people who don't have to work to get their back flat on the floor, there are some who simply CAN'T. If they can't it's usually a combination of lower back curve and generous glute muscles. It's all within natural variation.
    Those of us with curvier lower backs have to work harder at neutral pelvis. Those with a straight back don't (provided it's a healthy variation). A naturally straight back can have the same flexibility as OR the same tightness issues as a naturally curved back. Undulations may be more challenging for her, but not necessarily dangerous.
    This is really interesting! Thanks for sharing, I never thought about regional variations.


  14. #14
    Official BHUZzer bnwspots's Avatar
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    Re: Student with flat lower back?

    I have an almost flat lower back. Belly Dance has not caused me pain in the almost 13 years I've studied/performed.

    My undulations are like what Zumarrad describes.

    When I teach students with dramatically different body types, I usually go with what it looks like on them, what is comfortable to them, and what they are able to do.

    It's also folk dance... if we follow the bouncing butt, we would all look at the moves and copy them to make them "look" like the teacher's moves.

    BTW... at a workshop, I had a teacher ask me to tuck more, more, more! She wanted a look that is totally impossible on me. She went around back and was like "Oh!" ..c:: ..l;,


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