Dips and Low Back Injury

July 30, 2014 Uncategorized 0

There are many different ways to dip your partner.  Every dip should take into account some basic biomechanical information.

  1. Unless you and your dance partner are professional dancers, make sure that your follow feels like they can support their own weight.
  2. Keep your follow close to your center of gravity thereby decreasing the likelihood of losing your balance.
  3. Don’t hyperextend the follows’ low back.

I’m going to expand on number three because, while the other two are very important, I feel the last does the most harm while going unnoticed.  If something goes wrong on items one or two you will drop your follow and possibly fall yourself.  If and when someone falls, no one is surprised when an injury is the outcome.  However, hyperextension is not felt or seen by the lead so it largely gets overlooked.  The most common dip asks for the follow to extend their back.  This is fine unless you start that extension from the low back.  The difference between a mid-back extension dip and a low back extension dip is the difference of a hand’s width in many cases.  A good rule as a lead is to support the follows’ back from the shoulder blade when leading an extension dip.  If you are lower than this, you are significantly increasing the strain on your follows’ low back.

An extension dip from the low back can cause damage and ensuing low back pain.  The low back is inherently less stable than the mid-back.  The mid-back is supported by the rib cage, whereas the low back is supported by muscle (core strength).  The low back is also lower in the biomechanical chain than the mid-back.  When you start the extension from the low back this leads to greater torque on the back than if you start the extension from the mid or upper back.  Please remember that even if you have danced with a follow that has enough core strength to support a dip from the low back, this is not going to be true for the majority of follows so please don’t ask it of them.