I’ve received another great question from a B-Boy:
Is there a way to avoid that awkward bald spot from head spins? Do beanies help or hinder?
Good question! This is something I’ve wanted to learn more about myself.
As can be seen in the photo – I’m like the Hair Club president – “I’m also a client”.
Here’s Sy Sperling making TV history at 0:49…
Not your usual baldness…
It’s not just a unique baldness because it’s caused by spinning on your head.
Baldness is medically known as alopecia. When most people think of baldness, they’re thinking of androgenic alopecia – the kind that causes “male pattern baldness” associated with aging. But when baldness is caused by a pulling force to the hair, it’s known as traction alopecia. 1
Traction alopecia is typically caused by hairstyles that pull the hair very tightly (like very tight ponytails, pigtails, cornrows, etc.). It may also be caused by tight helmets and headgear.
This is definitely the “type” of hair loss we experience from headspins – a traumatic hair loss caused by extreme pressure and pulling on the hair. Pressure is obvious (the weight of my body), but pulling occurs too. Personally, when I do headspins without a hat, my hair feels like its twisted in little matted chunks.
Research – are there solutions?
Did I find any research articles on traction alopecia in B-Boys / B-Girls? Of course not!
The closest thing I found was a case study on a ballerina – and hers was caused by wearing her hair in a tight bun every time she trained. 2 Still, there was some interesting information in this study that may be useful to us.
First, the good news: the hair loss “stabilized” (didn’t worsen) after a year when she stopped wearing the tight bun. However, at 7-year follow-up, her hair loss was worse. This was because she wore a 1.5 pound hair piece for two years to cover her initial hair loss. Clearly, it has to be stopped early to prevent it.
The bad news: when looking at skin biopsies, it appears the hair follicles are damaged, preventing hair to grow from them again. Does it heal? It wasn’t clear, since she didn’t give it a chance to heal. Hopefully more research will be published soon.
In the mean time, here’s what I suggest:
- Spread practice out over your sessions rather than doing it all at once.
- Take breaks from practicing a lot of headspins – spend weeks simply maintaining what you have instead of drilling them. Hopefully, this gives your scalp time to heal.
- Minimize other risk factors – don’t constantly wear tight hairstyles or tight hats outside of practice.
- Wear a headspin hat – personally, I’ve found they help the “pulling” of hair, but they don’t stop the pressure.
- Try a helmet – they can spread the pressure out over your head, so it’s not concentrated on one spot on the top of your head.
- Shower right after practice (you probably should anyway) to “un-knot” your hair.
- If you really don’t want the little bald spot – don’t practice headspins. Sorry!
Hope this helps!
Sorry there’s no perfect answer or solution – but that’s how most things in health science are. At the end of the day, a small bald spot on the top of your head is probably not a big deal. You can still impress the opposite sex with your skills!
1. Springer K, Brown M, Stulberg DL. Common hair loss disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jul 1;68(1):93-102. Review. PubMed PMID: 12887115.
2. Samrao A, Chen C, Zedek D, Price VH. Traction alopecia in a ballerina: clinicopathologic features. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Aug;146(8):930-1. PubMed PMID: 20713841.