Can I Hula Hoop With A Back Injury?

by Mama Ruby

We get readers every week wanting to know if they can hula hoop with a bad back!  So, Ruby Hooping has invited hoop dance instructor and speaker Missy Cooke to write a guest blog post for this topic!  So can you hula hoop with a back injury?  The answer is YES! 

Disclaimer: Only you can decide what level of movement you are comfortable with, and that’s best discussed with your doctor. 

This article has been updated as of July 2020.

>>Start Your Journey Now! 

Can I Hula Hoop With A Back Injury?

As a hoop dance instructor, one of the biggest fears new students express, is that hooping will exacerbate an old back injury. After years of pain management treatment plans, and gingerly going through life trying to avoid a flare-up, many students are reluctant to start yet another exercise program that they’ll just have to give up due to back pain, injury, and related discomfort.

I understand their concerns because I have lived with chronic back pain for over 15 years. It started just after high school, with shooting pangs down my left leg, muscle weakness, and an unsteadiness in my gait. After 3 years of physical therapy and chiropractic care, the pain was getting worse and nothing seemed to help.

can i hula hoop with a back injury

At 21 years old I opted to have an L5S1 discectomy (lower back surgery) performed. The last disc before my sacrum was herniated and pushing on my sciatic nerve. Surgery brought immediate relief. But as badly as I wanted things to be the same, I never regained my full strength.

The excruciating pain was gone, but at times it felt like my spine was made of paper mache. When I was 28 and pregnant with my first daughter, it came back in full force. Seething pain shot down the back of my legs with every step. For a week I laid on my living room floor, not moving from the time my husband left for work until the time he got home at night. Turning to the side caused white blindness and tears to form. An MRI revealed the same disc was herniated a second time.

After my daughter was born, the unmanageable pain subsided, but I still lived with chronic medium to low-grade back pain. Not joining in activities due to the pain was normal and I started to accept it as my fate….or worse, as getting older.

But then I found something that completely reversed the tenderness in my back.

Yes You Can Hula Hoop With a Back Injury!

Over the course of a few months, I was amazed to find that I no longer had:

  • pain and weakness when waking in the morning
  • debilitating pre-menstrual back pain and cramping
  • sciatica
  • a limp when walking

Additionally, I noticed increased:

  • flexibility in my lower back and hips
  • steadiness in my gait
  • balance after sleeping and sitting
  • lower and upper back and core strength

How to Cure Your Back Pain With Hula Hooping

Hoop dance completely changed my life.

The first time I picked up (the right size) hula hoop, I knew right away it would help my back problems. Even though I was unsteady and weak, something about the hoop was calming and the rhythmic motion eased the tightness in my lower back and hips.

I used to be terrified of getting older. At 30 years of age I regularly had trouble walking after sleeping or sitting for long periods. What would the prognosis be at 50, 60, or 70 years?

As many longtime sufferers will attest, chronic back pain makes you feel prematurely old, like you can’t trust your body to do what you need it to do. Fearful, you withdraw from the things and people you love because participating feels dangerous.

But hooping stops that.

As you learn to control the hoop, the strength and mobility in your back will return. And before you know it, you’ll have gone a few days without feeling bad. And then a few more. And a few more after that. And then one day you’ll wake up, and you won’t remember the last time your back hurt.

But it starts with today. With the belief that you really can hoop, and that nothing, especially not back pain, is going to steal your confidence.

You can live pain free.  All you have to do is have the courage to begin.

Enroll now in our Six Week Beginner Hula Hoop Challenge for All Bodies

Missy is a hoop dance instructor, entrepreneur, and speaker who helps women relax, let loose, and smile more by getting up, getting out, and starting something new. To see what she’s up to, or have her speak at your event, go to missycooke.com

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16 comments

Angie February 11, 2016 - 10:43 pm

Hi I am 9 weeks post op after having a L5/s1 when would you advice I can start hooping

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rubyhooping February 12, 2016 - 12:33 am

Angie as I am not a doctor I cannot advise you. I would ask your doctor when it is safe to begin low impact cardio exercise. 🙂 Thank you for writing!

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Kim December 13, 2016 - 10:39 pm

This is so comforting to read, I’m 9 weeks post op from a L4/L5 Microdiscectomy and while I know that I’m still a while off hooping again, I’m really looking forward to getting back into it.

My surgical physiotherapist suggested belly dancing for me and I asked about hooping, and she said it would be “too fast” but I’m not really sure what the difference between belly dancing and hooping would be for my back….?! I’m not sure they understand how soothing hoop dance is, and that’s it’s not frantic and fast!!

I miss the core strength I had before all of these back injuries and problems! Thank for you for an uplifting article!

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rubyhooping December 13, 2016 - 11:42 pm

You are so welcome! In my opinion hooping would be a slower less risky motion than even belly dancing!

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Alexandra A Peterskya August 12, 2017 - 8:20 am

Hello,my name is Alexandra. Have a back injury since May 30th 2017. L1 spinal fracture. doing physical therapy, but want to come back to my 4pounds weight hula hoop exercise routine .is it to early,is it safe?Thanks for response in advance.

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rubyhooping August 13, 2017 - 1:01 am

Hey Alexandra! I wish I could answer that, but since I am not a doctor I don’t feel comfortable telling you if it’s safe or not! I would definitely ask your physical therapist or doctor to make sure before you begin 🙂 When you are ready to start just let us know and we will get you fitted in the perfect hoop. Four pounds is too heavy and could risk injury.

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Brayden Davison September 18, 2017 - 11:18 am

Hi Ruby,

Love the article, thanks for the tips.

I have recurring back soreness that has stopped me from hooping lately. I have been thinking about getting a massaging hoop.

Do you think this will help at all with my sore lower back?

Hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

Reply
Mama Ruby September 18, 2017 - 2:04 pm

I don’t recommend massaging hoops because they are usually excessively heavy. Any hoop is going to naturally provide a massaging effect. Check with your doctor to be sure.

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Erika September 26, 2017 - 4:41 pm

I got my back in to shape after an injury just using my usual 34″ Polypro, which is super light. It’s not really the hoop’s contact, but the actual work out you’re giving the muscles that strengthens them and works out stiffness. <3

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Jamie August 26, 2018 - 6:34 am

I am so excited to find this article! I recently underwent a L5- S1 microdiscectomy. Prior to my surgery I enjoyed hula hooping for fun and the thought of not being able to anymore really brings me down, however, after reading everyone else’s comments I’m ready to make this a goal for myself. A little motivation is great for recovery and I thank you all for sharing your stories!

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Mama Ruby August 28, 2018 - 1:06 am

There is hope for you boo! So glad you found our article!

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Jad October 7, 2018 - 3:55 am

Hi, do you think hooping in on direction is bad? (i cannot hoop in the other, it immediately falls)

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Mama Ruby November 5, 2018 - 12:06 am

No it’s not bad! It’s awesome! However I definitely encourage learning to do it both directions so your muscles will develop evenly 🙂

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elaine March 20, 2019 - 8:47 pm

Hello, I have lower back pain. Should I use the weight hula or the light one?
Thanks-Elaine

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Mama Ruby March 20, 2019 - 8:51 pm

I would definitely recommend asking your doctor to be sure, but the heavier hoop will be easier to use and probably less risky. The lighter hoop requires faster movements which are not recommended for back issues.

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Monica L Park June 28, 2019 - 7:04 am

Because I have spinal issues that have kept me from hooping for months at a time, surgery years ago & reverse neck curvature I did some research. This isn’t what I originally found, but the meat of the information is in “Discussion” near end of the page.

What I originally read was 10 g of collagen w 50 mg of Vit C before a work out helps avoid injury & heal (based on body surging collagen to the area). If I read this right gelatin will also do & is less expensive. Just thought it might be helpful to others.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5183725/

Reply

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