Ozgen & Elizabeth Sharp at Belly dancing press briefing

Belly dancing can help beat back pain

Master Master Turkish Oriental dancer Ozgen teamed up with the UK’s leading physiotherapist Elizabeth Sharp to demonstrate how belly dancing can be an effective way to deal with back pain, an endemic health problem in the West that is said to affect 80% of all adults. Described as the “Gold Standard” in exercise, the health benefits of Oriental dancing, which focuses on toning and strengthening the body’s core areas – abdomen, pelvis and lumbar spine – were explained at a press briefing to media and dance industry representatives in Central London earlier this week.


Mrs Sharp, who has 40 years of experience in the treatment of musculo-skeletal conditions and injuries and 20 years experience working with dancers and performers, was only recently introduced to belly dancing when Ozgen hosted a workshop at her esph clinic in Harley Street. She was impressed with its ability to work the deep muscles in the body’s core areas that bear the brunt of the body’s weight and actions. She told attendees at Tuesday’s briefing that, “Belly dancing is the Gold Standard in workouts, giving the muscles in the body’s protective corset the optimal level of strength and control”.


During the briefing, Ozgen demonstrated the key moves of the dance, such as the shimmy (shaking parts of the body such as chest or hips, as if they are vibrating) and undulation (an up/down wavelike movement of the chest or entire torso), while Ms Sharp explained how these fine movements give the body a total workout, reaching and strengthening important deep muscles of the abdomen and spine. She stressed this was “virgin territory” and that research is needed, but believes belly dancing can play an important role in combating back problems. She noted the dance is an excellent way of developing great neural control and body co-ordination and to stay healthy, on average burning up 109 calories for every 10 minutes of dancing.


Dancer Ozgen wowed the audience yesterday with a short performance before inviting the attendees to join him in a mini belly dance workshop with master darbuka player Sallam Al-Sheikh adding the authentic musical backdrop. He said after, “Oriental dancing is a fun, sociable activity that people of all ages and sizes can enjoy and get fit. It’s all about isolating and moving individual body parts, which require enormous control. But once you master it, you can enjoy perfect balance, and your body is really agile and toned.” He welcomed the interest of industry bodies such as Dance UK into looking at the health benefits of Oriental dancing and added, “Back pain is a major problem in the West, yet in the East, we all belly dance from an early age. I would be happy to help with clinical research into how the West can use belly dancing to help beat back pain.”