Learn about Limber

The Limber Concept

Designed and formulated by a team consisting of neurosurgeon Dr W Adriaan Liebenberg, and dance therapist Seugnet Esterhuyse and physiotherapists; Limber Dance Therapy aims to improve the quality of life of people with back and neck pain without surgery. So far it has proven to be extremely successful. 

Degenerative diseases of the spine are progressive, share a genetic deficiency and continue to be a scourge of humanity. 

Whilst there is a definite place for surgery, this is ideally reserved for patients who have progressive deficits and impending paralysis. There is excellent evidence that for most patients a conservative, non-surgical approach is equally effective as surgery and has the benefits of not having the multitudes of complications associated with surgery.

The modern inactive predominantly seated lifestyle and obesity contributes to increase the burden of disease. Movement, spinal balance and suppleness are key to spinal health. There is excellent evidence that Dance Therapy is beneficial in Obesity, Fibromyalgia, Breast cancer, Chronic heart failure, Dementia, Autism, Parkinson’s disease, Depression, Chronic Pain, Labor pain and Psychosis.

We know that the lower cost, comradeship and feeling of well-being of group therapy are  factors contributing to long term participation in spinal programs. It is a natural progression to add music and extended bio-mechanical routines into these programs.

Our experiences over many years have lead to the development of an interactive, bio-mechanically sound dance therapy designed and tested to primarily rehabilitate spinal pathology in both the surgical and the non-surgical patients. 


1.    Allet L, Müller-Pinget S, Punt I, Edelsten C, Ballif A, Golay A, Pataky Z. Dance therapy combined with patient education improves quality of life of persons with obesity: A pilot feasibility study for a randomised controlled trial. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Jan - Feb;11(1):79-87.

2.    Assunção Júnior JC, de Almeida Silva HJ, da Silva JFC, da Silva Cruz R, de Almeida Lins CA, de Souza MC. Zumba dancing can improve the pain and functional capacity in women with fibromyalgia. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 22 (2018) 455e459

3.    Bannister K, Dickenson AH. The plasticity of descending controls in pain: translational probing.  J Physiol 595.13 (2017) pp 4159–4166 4159

4.    Bement MKH & Sluka KA (2005). Low-intensity exercise reverses chronic muscle pain in the rat in a naloxonedependent manner.  Arch Phys Med Rehabil 86, 1736–1740.

5.    Bidonde J, Boden C, Kim S, Busch AJ, Goes SM, Knight E. Scoping Review of Dance for Adults With Fibromyalgia: What Do We Know About It? JMIR Rehabil Assist Technol. 2018 May 10;5(1):e10033. doi: 10.2196/10033. Review.

6.    Boehm K, Cramer H, Staroszynski T, Ostermann T. Arts Therapies for Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.  Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014, Article ID 103297, 9 pages

7.    Castrillon T, Hanney WJ, Rothschild CE, Kolber MJ, Liu X, Masaracchio M. The effects of a standardized belly dance program on perceived pain, disability, and function in women with chronic low back pain. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2017;30(3):477-496. doi: 10.3233/BMR-150504.

8.    Damsgard E, Thrane G, Anke A, Fors T & Røe C (2010).  Activity-related pain in patients with chronic musculoskeletal disorders.  Disabil Rehabil 32, 1428–1437.

9.    Da Silva Santos R, Galdino G. Endogenous systems involved in exercise-induced analgesia.  J Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Feb;69(1):3-13. doi: 10.26402/jpp.2018.1.01. Epub 2018 May 8. Review.

10.    Gomes Neto, Menezes, Oliveira Carvalho. Dance therapy in patients with chronic heart failure: a systematic review and a meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2014 Dec;28(12):1172-9.

11.    Karkou V, Meekums B. Dance movement therapy for dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD011022. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011022.pub2.

12.    Koch SC, Mehl L, Sobanski E, Sieber M, Fuchs T.Fixing the mirrors: A feasibility study of the effects of dance movement therapy on young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism 2015, Vol. 19(3) 338–350.

13.    Lee M, Moon W, Kim J. Effect of yoga on pain, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and serotonin in premenopausal women with chronic low back pain. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:203173. doi: 10.1155/2014/203173. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

14.    Lima LV, Abner TSS, Sluka KA. Does exercise increase or decrease pain?  Central mechanisms underlying these two phenomena.  J Physiol. 2017 Jul ;595(13):4141-4150.

15.    McGill A, Houston S, Lee RY. Dance for Parkinson's: a new framework for research on its physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Jun;22(3):426-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.03.005. Epub 2014 Mar 25

16.    Meekums_B, Karkou_V, Nelson_EA. Dance movement therapy for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD009895.

17.    Pinniger R, Brown RF, Thorsteinsson EB, McKinley P. Argentine tango dance compared to mindfulness meditation and a waiting-list control: a randomised trial for treating depression. Complement Ther Med. 2012 Dec;20(6):377-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

18.    Shim M,  Goodill S,  Bradt J. Mechanisms of Dance/Movement Therapy for Building Resilience in People Experiencing Chronic Pain. American Journal of Dance Therapy (2019) 41:87–112.

19.    Somayeh Abdolahian, Fatemeh Ghavi, Sareh Abdollahifard, Fatemeh Sheikhan. Effect of Dance Labor on the Management of Active Phase Labor Pain & Clients’ Satisfaction: A Randomized Controlled Trial Study. Global Journal of Health Science; Vol. 6, No. 3; 2014 ISSN 1916-9736 E-ISSN 1916-9744

20.    Staud R, Robinson ME & Price DD. Isometric exercise has opposite effects on central pain mechanisms in fibromyalgia patients compared to normal controls.  Pain. 2005 Nov;118(1-2):176-84. Epub 2005 Sep 9.

21.    Tavormina R, Tavormina MGM, Nemoianni E. The advantages of “dance-group” for psychotic patients. Psychiatria Danubina, 2014; Vol. 26, Suppl. 1, pp 162–166 Conference paper.

22.    Williams, J.L.  (Re-) Defining Dance/Movement Therapy Fifty Years Hence.  Am J Dance Ther. 41, 273–285 (2019).  Pain 118, 176–184.