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Instep Dance Magazine Articles

Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine.

September 2000

Shoulders and Ribs Torqued Out of Place

By Rick Allen, DC

"Better health leads to better dancing."

I have been harping on rib subluxations for good reason - I see it daily in my practice. Two months ago I gave an overview of the condition and treatment. Last month I wrote about a related problem, Scalenus Anticus Syndrome. This month, let's relate it specifically to partner dancing and give you some tips to avoid torqueing shoulders and ribs out of place - both yours and your partner's. The tips are a collaboration of ideas from me and my dance instructor, Michelle Uttke - a big "thank you" to Michelle and her dance student, Ken Souders, for posing for the pictures accompanying this article.

The problem

The most common problem situation is when a man forces his partner incorrectly in an outside turn or hammerlock in swing. At the least, the lady will find this uncomfortable and may choose to not dance with the guy anymore. Women flinch with anticipation, cringing with apprehension of potential pain. Worse, improperly done (photos 1 "bad turn" and 2 "bad hammerlock" - notice Michelle's look of displeasure), these moves can possibly lead to three serious conditions:

  1. Strain of the pectoral and rotator cuff muscles of the chest and shoulder girdle.
  2. Subluxation of the upper ribs of the back.
  3. Dislocation of the shoulder.

The solution

The solution is simple - the man must not force the lady through the move. Instead, lightly lift the woman's right arm to 90 degrees in front, just clearing her head, and, in the case of the hammerlock, keep her left hand down at the level of her waist (photos 3 good turn" and 4 "good hammerlock - notice Michelle's smile of pleasure). Just use the fingertips of the hand to guide her as she completes the turn or comes into a complete hammerlock. Be gentle! The ladies will appreciate it - and love to dance with you again and again!

Next article: I plan on picking up with some other causes of back pain. However, if you have a question or topic that is bubbling inside, let me know. Perhaps we will have a surprise for next month.


  • Taking Your Back to the Future by Michael Gazdar, D.C., C.C.S.P.
  • Michelle Uttke, Fancy Feet Dance Club Owner and Instructor, 604 7th Street, Oregon City, OR 97045, phone (503) 722-2811 or 1-800-551-7216.
Photo of Bad Turn

1. Bad Turn
Photo of Bad Hammerlock

2. Bad Hammerlock
Photo of Good Turn

3. Good Turn
Photo of Good Hammerlock

4. Good Hammerlock
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