Why Public Group Dancing can help prevent or cure Chronic Pain

Why Public Group Dancing can help prevent or cure Chronic Pain… It’s real… I’ve tried it…. (Viewer beware… my dancing video at the bottom of this post may not be rhythmically appropriate!)

In my last Facebook Live post, I showed a video of groups of ladies laughing, chatting and dancing together in a park in Shanghai. It dawned on me that this was very unique and not something I saw very often in the United States. As I sat and watched, several things jumped out at me about how powerful this type of group experience could be for the prevention of chronic pain or helping to cure chronic pain.

Here are 3 main thoughts:

1.      This type of social dancing often occurs every single day. Community and interaction with others brings context and value to the life of a patient. The complete opposite of this occurs with chronic pain, depression and anxiety often results in social isolation. The power of community and fun, in a low-stress environment, is massive! I believe it can help prevent chronic pain and the isolation it (chronic pain) can create. Notice how easily I joined this group of ladies and just became part of this happy group. (I could feel my endogenous opioids flowing through me!)

2.      The Clinical Practice Guidelines for Low back pain gives a Grade A for trunk coordination, strengthening and endurance exercises. During my short stint with the Shanghai morning dance group, my heart rate was elevated, I attempted to keep my trunk relatively neutral (movement coordination training) and similar to Zumba (my other secret guilty pleasure… you really, really… do not want to see that….) the movements were relatively functional and enjoyable. These semi-coordinated movements, connected occasionally to a rhythm and the relative low impact on my joints were actually a great source of exercise!

3.      It is also shown that in patients with Chronic pain, there are changes in the attention centers of the brain. Imagine if your patient is so focused on his or her symptoms that even as the tissues are healing or healed, the hyper vigilant brain continues to “sound the alarm” resulting in pain experiences even if there is no significant tissue injury, or sensations that are typically considered not painful. This study suggests that changing the patient’s focus, in my case, focusing on learning the steps to the dance, trying to follow the rhythm (emphasis on “trying”), could very well improve patient outcomes. This study demonstrated an even stronger effect of distraction in patients who demonstrated catastrophization! Have you noticed patients telling you that when they are at work, they don’t feel much of their pain? Attention and distraction.. particularly fun forms of this may have significant value in improving our patient’s quality of life!

Ref link: http://anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org/article.aspx?articleid=1936539

Do yourself a favor… and find yourself a group of Chinese ladies to dance with! Feel the power of community, exercise, and distraction!