Hooping With Back Problems

hooping [Guest blogger Shea Brock shares her advice for back pain sufferers.]

There are quite a few statements I don’t like to hear people say in regards to hooping, but the one that tops my list has to be: “I can’t hoop because I have back problems.” Yes you can. I am living proof that’s just not true. Two years ago I woke up in excruciating pain, barely able to get out of bed. Having been a nurse for close to 16 years, I chalked it up to a pulled muscle. When the usual ice, rest, and ibuprofen didn’t work though, I started seeing doctors. Many, many doctors. All of them claiming I had “pulled a muscle” or “torn a ligament”. After four months without answers I finally saw a specialist, had an MRI and was told I had 3 bulging discs, a pinched nerve and degenerative disc disease. I was not a candidate for surgery and I would never get better, only slowly worse.

Devastated by the news, I tried drugs, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy and spinal injections. Nothing totally got rid of my pain. In fact, I was in pain constantly. Sometimes the gnawing ache would wake me in the middle of the night. I hobbled around hunched-over like an old lady at 34-years-old. I couldn’t work more than a day or two at a time and even then I could barely move by the time I got home. I sat back and listened to people continuously tell me what my limits were and watched as things I loved were slowly taken from me. I started to spiral into a deep depression. I don’t know what happened or why, but one day I decided I had had enough.

Coming to terms with my diagnosis, I made a strange peace with it. I knew that pain was going to be something I’d have to deal with the rest of my life, but it was up to me how I dealt with it. While I mourned my old life, I decided it could still rock. I decided to fight and to tell you the journey was easy would be a lie. It was hard and it’s a challenge I face everyday. Here are my tips for hooping in spite of back pain.

1) Talk To Your Doctor: Make sure it is ok with your doctor. Most doctors will tell you that being sedentary makes your back feel even worse so do some activity, get moving, do something. Even if they say waist hooping is off limits you can probably still hoop with your hands.

2) Stretch Stretch Stretch: I never knew the importance of stretching till I made it apart of my practice. It helps me go longer and with less pain. It really limbers up your muscles and increases your flexibility, thereby making you a stronger hooper. Hooping without stretching is like jumping into a freezing cold shower.

3) Take It Slow: When you are first starting out take it slow. Don’t immediately try to rock it out for an hour. Start in 5 minute increments and work your way up. Slow and Steady. Be the tortoise. I personally have to go slow and even then I can only do certain moves for a few minutes or I will pay for it later. I work on something for a few minutes and then I back off. I can always come back to it later. Little increments are progress.

4) Recognize Your Limits and Forgive Yourself: You’re not going to being able to do everything and that is just okay. I love to watch Anah and Brecken move. I try not to be envious, but sometimes it sneaks in. I love to watch people do barrel rolls, booty bump their hoop and do vertical chest rolls. When it comes to these moves though I really have to know when to draw the line. Know your limits and try not to judge yourself against anyone else.

5) Keep It Equal: Don’t forget to practice on your non-dominant side as well, especially when waist hooping. For those of us living with back pain it is important to work our spine in both directions. You want to make sure you lube up that spinal column real good with all that mushy fluid.

6) Be Open Minded: Focus on moves that won’t involve your back and you can hoop even more. Legs, arms, almost anything off body is good to work on. I like my mini-hoops when it’s an upper body kind of day. If you’re having a sore back kind of day work on your arms. Fling those hoops in the air, throw em in the trees. Find some awesome go-to moves to work on during an off day. Always give yourself options, challenge yourself.

7) Stop If It Hurts: Remember, hooping shouldn’t cause you pain. Occasional bruises, yes, but pain? NO. If it hurts stop, don’t do it. While that might be common sense, it is hard to remember when you are really feeling the flow to stop, but stop you must. Listen to your body and treat it nice. I try and take some ibuprofen or Tylenol before I hoop and afterwards I try and ice my back to decrease inflammation. Take your vitamins. Drink lots of water. Eat a balanced diet. Treat your body to a nice massage or a pedicure every once in awhile as a big thank you.

My hoop practice is not perfect, but it is mine and mine alone. I can’t hoop the way I want some of the time, but I can still hoop. I am becoming the best hooper that I can be, wonky back and all.


Shea BrockShea Brock of Boro Hoops lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA, where she’s slowly building an army of hoopers so she doesn’t have to hoop alone.

19 thoughts on “Hooping With Back Problems

  1. My doctors had told me I had early signs of m.s. and inflamed nerves I am in pain a great amount hooping is therapeutic for me it’s was hard at first but I couldn’t let it go!

  2. Would you recommend hooping for someone with bad knees? My mom has had knee problems and I keep trying to get her to hoop…just waist hooping, which I think would be good for her, to get the blood flowing and build some strength in a low-impact way. She’s convinced her knees can’t handle it, but when I waist hoop I don’t really use my knees at all (unless I’m using them more than I realize). She walks every day and my thought is, if you can walk 30 minutes every day, you can hoop for 30 minutes every day.

    1. If you’re using a standard adult-sized dance hoop you should be fine. Where you run into problems with knees is in using the weighted hoops. There is in fact a very subtle motion in the knees while hooping that becomes less subtle with heavier weight. Stick to standard hoops and you should be fine.

  3. Excellent article! I would love to make a copy to share with those in my classes, if it’s okay with you, Shea.

    One thought, too. I have talked to a few Dr’s about hooping and many of them think the motion is a rotation of the hips and steer their patients away from trying hooping. Educating one’s doctor on the ACTUAL body movement often changes their mind about whether or not a given patient can give it a whirl.

  4. I was diagnosed with 4 herniated disks in my lower back along with a plate in my neck for collapsed disk. I take no meds and hoop a few times a week, along with stretching . If I don’t hoop those muscles along my spine loosen up and than I hurt.. Hooping is my therapy!!

  5. I hear you hoop family! As someone else with a herniated disc, back issues and years of pain, I too made a decision to not give up my life to it. Every doctor I’ve ever asked has told me it was a bad idea for my back to hoop. But you how are you supposed to live a life without doing things you love?! I for one am not giving up one LIFE!
    Stretch! If you don’t keep moving your back and stomach muscles start to atrophy which will make the pain worse. I’ve found that hooping strengthens and warms up the muscles in my back helping immensely with pain. But yes, I too have Brecken envy. 😉

  6. thank you for this article, Shea. It’s very helpful to take it back a notch and enjoy the movement we are capable of in the present. I’ve learned to take ‘rest of your life’ diagnoses with a grain of salt. Your body wants to heal itself, and hooping only helps that process. Showing compassion to yourself on the path to wholeness is kind and real. hoop on!

  7. Great to see an article like this! I was diagnosed with a rare connective tissue disorder about a month before I took up hooping. At first, I thought, “Great…I’m going to fall in love with this, find out it injures me just like everything else, and I’ll have to stop.”

    Quite the opposite has happened. I’ve been hooping nonstop for 3 1/2 months and I have NEVER injured myself hooping — and I cannot say that about any other activity (including sleeping!!)! It’s actually helped my body rather than hurt it.

    That’s because hooping is unique, but also because I do as you say here — especially respecting limits, no matter how annoying they may be in the moment.

    Thanks for this article’s good, insightful vibes!

  8. I’m still pretty young, but I have had a bad lower back since middle school due to sports injuries. I always have a dull achy pain in my lower back that gets worse depending on how much I am on my feet at work. That was until I started hooping. Now anytime I get that dull ache feeling or think I might get it soon, I grab my hoop and it takes care of it. I even talked to my chiropractor about it and he loved the idea and encouraged me to keep doing it along with some good stretching! I don’t usually do more than some waist hooping, but I love doing it and it makes me feel great too! 🙂

  9. I have back problems, and hooping is what helps make it better. I have rheumatoid arthritis and I also pull stuff now and then. When I don’t hoop, I don’t move very well. Hooping keeps me able to walk and function.

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