Dance Advice

Technique tips: Help, my students have headaches in acro class!

Headaches in acro class.
Headaches in acro class.

Many beginner acro students complain of headaches in class. Luckily, as students progress through their acro dance education, this side effect will lessen or will no longer occur. Good to know! So what are some tips that you can offer your students to help them achieve less – or no – headaches? Read on to find out some advice from Acrobatic Arts

First of all, why do headaches occur when practicing acro? When working upside down or in inversions, the heart is placed higher than the head. This can cause pressure in the head and neck area. Students can also create tension in the neck and shoulders while executing inverted skills, which can also result in a headache. 

The body needs time to acclimatize to being upside down. Teachers, talk to students about this side effect and help them work through headaches instead of complaining about them. Preparing students mentally for this side effect will help them through this process. 

Other common factors that could be causing headaches during class include improper breathing during skill execution, dehydration, hunger and muscle tension. 

What are some tips you can give to your students to help them alleviate their headaches? 

#1. First of all, have water readily available during class. Offer frequent but short water breaks. However, too much water at once is uncomfortable in inverted skills. 

#2. Come out of the skill and take a short break. Offer the option to lightly stretch or do a strength exercise to distract from the headache. 

#3. Have a headache station where students can drink water and re-center using mental visualization techniques or pressure point massage. 

#4. Do neck and shoulder mobility exercises or massage to release tension in the upper neck and body (sub occipital fascia release). This tension can sometimes lead to a headache. 

#5. Openly discuss headaches in class. Let students know that it does happen and their body needs to adjust to being upside down so often. 

#6. Focus on breathing techniques in class, before going upside down. 

#7. Have students speak during upside down skills to promote breathing. 

Created by Mandy Yip, a successful studio owner with decades of experience, Acrobatic Arts runs training and certification courses for dance teachers in the art of acro dance. The program is based on safe and effective progressions with proven results in five divisions of acro dance: flexibility, strength, balancing, limbering and tumbling. Developed with input from professionals and experts in ballet, modern dance, jazz, contortion, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, sport acrobatics, yoga, acro yoga, Pilates, physiotherapy, hand balancing and more, Acrobatic Arts offers a most comprehensive program. 

For more information on Acrobatic Arts and its upcoming teacher certification programs, visit

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