Potentially Damaging

Many moves, stretches, and exercises that have been accepted in the past are now known to be potential problems. Not for all people who do them but MED attracts older dancers who may not have had their flexibility honed from an early age, whose bodies may not be strong enough, whose bodies may have been injured, and whose bodies may never have been perfect for dance in the first place. The "never did me any harm" cant hides all those who dropped out due to injury or pain.

The following list is not "my opinion" but rather based on solid science reported in reputable sources which I have listed at the end. This list is subject to alteration as new information comes to hand.

(And yes there are plenty of safe moves!)

MED Moves to Avoid

Turkish Drop

Can damage knees, lower back, and cause concussion.
If you must do it – make sure you are very flexible and strong in the legs and abs and learn, in person, from a reputable teacher how to minimize the damage.

Zaar Head Circles

Extreme version of head circles – exacerbated by The speed and length of repetition of the movement. Another potential problem is damage to the brain due to jarring . (Use torso movement instead.)

MED Moves – with Care

Dropped Pelvis posture

Can lead to shearing forces in lumbosacral junction that cause premature degenerative changes in disks.
See neutral pelvis


Only when have strength & flexibility to do it safely

Full body Undulations & Body Wave

Excessive strain on lower back can cause damage to lumbar spine plus dropped pelvis can lead to shearing forces in lumbosacral junction that cause premature degenerative changes in disks.

Requires automatic core stability which will last through practice & performance

Moroccan Shimmy

As with Full body Undulations needs automatic core stability to avoid damage to lower back.

Tilting hip circles

As with Full body Undulations needs automatic core stability to avoid damage to lower back.

Veil & Snake Arms

Can cause long term shoulder joint damage in some people


Watch for RSI

Stretches to Avoid (not effective and have serious potential damage)

Standing hamstring stretch eg "toe touching"

Hamstring will involuntarily contract to stabilize – ie no stretch
Can damage lumbar ligaments. Will weaken over years causing permanent damage – and they don’t stretch the hamstrings.
For more info click here.

Pushing down on legs in sitting groin stretch

Muscles contract against loading force making stretch impossible

Curling forward on sitting groin or hamstring stretch

Can cause stress & tearing of ligaments of lumbar spine & posterior pelvis

Standing groin stretch

Adductors contract so cannot stretch

Ballet Bar Stretch of hamstring

As above
Hamstrings should be stretched either siting or on a bent leg with a straight back

Leaning on wall with feet crossed to stretch glut

Muscles will contract – no stretch. Iliotibal band may tear.

Stretches – with Care

Kneeing quad or hamstring stretch

Can damage articular knee cartilage (behind knee cap)

Holding foot with quad stretch

Can lead to damage of tendons of toe and eventually the knee
(hold leg above ankle instead)

Sitting hamstring stretch with spread legs or non-working leg tucked in against the body

Causes tension to hamstring you are trying to stretch – ie makes stretch less effective

Sitting, rotating torso with legs crossed

Potentially damaging to ligaments of pelvis & spine and sciatic nerve

Exercises to Avoid

Jack-knife sit-ups (legs & arms off ground)

Tightens & strengthens iliopsoas and doesn’t allow abs & rectus femorus to work through full range causing lower back problems

Exercises - with Care:

"Deep knee bends" - actually even half way down to thighs horizontal for some people

Can cause knee damage

Extension of spine eg backbends, cobra, raising arms & legs together

Can cause hypermobility and lower back damage

Double leg raises

Stressful to lower back as iliopsoas is worked in shortened range if abs are not strong enough

Hip hyperextension (on all fours swing leg up)

Potentially stressful to lower back – ligaments, muscles, and disks

Head Circles /
Circular neck rotations

Can close down joints in cervical spine and impinge on the nerve structures and also cause excessive strain with in the disks in the neck.

Straight leg sit-ups

As with Jack-Knife sit-ups however these can be made safe if done slowly and with control


Calais-Germain, B. & Lamotte , A (1993), Anatomy of Movement - Exercises, Seattle, WA: Eastland Press
Michael Dalgleish, workshops and consultations, 1997-2003
Seiger et al (1998) Fitness and wellness strategies, 2nd edition, Boston, Mass. : WCB/McGraw-Hill
St George, F. (1989) The Muscle Fitness Book Brookvale, NSW: Simon Schuster
St George, F. (1994) The Stretching Handbook Brookvale, NSW: Simon Schuster
Stark, SD (1999) The Stark Reality of Stretching, 4th edition, Richmond, BC: The Stark Reality Corp

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