What is Causing Your Ballroom Dance Pain?

After you’ve studied it for a while, you’ll find that ballroom dancing brings joy and a delightful feeling of being one with the music.  However, if you’re feeling any discomfort after dancing, take a look at some of the possible causes.  When you know what to look for, you’ll be able to avoid ballroom dance pain.

What is causing your ballroom dance pain?


Ballroom dancing is about two people moving together as one.  In order to achieve this, good partnership skills are required.  Both partners need to hold their arms up at a comfortable level.  This is called the frame and having a good frame makes it easier to dance together.  Also, a good frame will prevent the partners from hanging on each other.

Using the shoulders to lift the arms when you create a frame is one reason your shoulders hurt after an evening of dancing.  To hold a nice frame, the leader and follower must learn to raise the arms from the muscles underneath the arm as opposed to using the shoulders to lift the arms.

Another explanation for ballroom dance pain in the shoulder could be overleading of underarm turns by the gentleman.  Because ladies love to do them, taking the time to understand how to painlessly communicate and execute these turns will be time well spent.  With proper instruction, you’ll see it doesn’t take much to lead them.


avoid ballroom dance pain by keeping a straight backUsing incorrect dance posture may very well be contributing to your aching back.  Allowing the back to arch will put pressure on your lower back.  Ideally, achieving good dance posture will involve holding the body in one piece.  This is done by lining up your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and the hips over the balls of the feet.  By bending the back, you split your body into two pieces, a top, and a bottom.  Learning to move your body in one piece will feel better and look better.


Everyone wants to move in a rhythmical way.  In the Rhythm and Latin dances, that means using hip action.  In order to create Latin motion, you will find yourself using muscles you’ve never used before.  Inevitably, you’re gonna say, “This is impossible!”  I know I did.  But, guess what, you’ll get the job done and be glad you did.  Do yourself a favor by finding a way to practice between lessons.  Gradually, the pain will be gone and in its place will be the pleasure.

Take a look at the hips on these dancers.  Bachata team demonstration.


Wearing the wrong shoes can cause knee pain.  The best shoes to wear when dancing are ballroom dance shoes.  The reason for that is, these shoes have specially placed heels to help keep your weight over the balls of your feet.  In addition, the sole is suede to give just the right amount of slip and grip.  Also, to keep the shoe on the foot, the ladies shoe will always have a closed back or a strap in the back.

When dancing in street shoes, keep in mind it’s best to have leather soles.  If you’re wearing athletic shoes (sneakers) the soft rubber can stick on the floor and you can end up twisting your knee and that’s a special kind of ballroom dance pain.  Ouch!

If that happens, most physicians (and dance instructors) will recommend RICE:

  • Rest the joint.
  • Ice the injured area to reduce swelling.
  • Compress the swelling with an elastic bandage.
  • Elevate the injured knee.

One more thing, dancing on a carpet can also result in twisted knees.  Avoid at all costs.


Unless you specifically spend time strengthening them, there’s a good chance you have ankles on the weaker side.  The ankles pay a big part in ballroom dancing.  In the Smooth dances, you’ll use them for the rise and fall in Waltz, the smooth progression in Foxtrot, and the sharp, staccato action in Tango.  In Rhythm dances, you won’t get a nice hip action without using your ankles.

A simple exercise to strengthen your ankles would be to stand with your feet together.  Slowly rise up to your toes on both feet, hold it a second, and slowly roll back down until your heel meets the floor.  Repeat a few times, then do each ankle individually in the same manner.  So that you don’t get wobbly, do your best to keep your weight over the balls of your feet, avoiding rolling back over your heels.  Your heels will touch the floor, but your weight will stay forward.


your feet may suffer ballroom dance painYes, your feet are gonna hurt when you take up dancing.  Let’s examine a few things that can cause foot pain from ballroom dancing.

  • Shoes with a thick sole, such as platforms or safety shoes.
  • Slides, thongs, or any shoe without some kind of back or a strap to hold it on the foot.
  • Improper fitting shoes.
  • Too high a heel for a beginner.
  • Worn out shoes that give no support.

“It sounds like learning ballroom dancing is bad for your health.  Maybe I should take up Bingo instead.”

Heck, no!  Check out this Dance Safari post, “3 Big Reasons to Learn Social Dancing”.  Dancing is important for your good health.  There are ways to avoid ballroom dance pain, the number one being asking a dance professional.  Your dance instructor will be more than happy to guide you.  He or she will explain the things to do and the things to avoid to stay healthy and injury-free.

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  1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this marvelous post, Barbara.
    I’ve been quite fortunate regarding body aches and pains. However, I did develop the back problem you spoke about. I now do as you say, and am very pleased to say I am now free of back pain.
    We, my partner Keith and I, have just begun to learn the Latin rhythms. This involves using ‘the hips’ (as that wonderful video clip showed). Not being one to use the hips in this fashion it is a little challenging; but, one I’m enjoying immensely.
    Once again; it has been wonderful to read your very in-depth article.. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the vote of confidence, Carolyn. I’m happy to hear that your back pain has subsided and, I know you’ll be looking forward to the day your hips feel the same. Keep up the good work.

      I like this quote, “Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health – it rusts your spirit and your hips.” ~Terri Guillemets.

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