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Long story short, I took some belly-dancing classes a few years back, and recently I've been following along videos with a friend of mine. I'm largely good, except for shoulder shimmies. Every time I do them at anything less than a glacier pace, I get pains in my pectorals, like sharp cramps that arc across the breastbone to either side. I don't think I have any underlying physical conditions that could account for this, and I'm in decent shape overall (although I will admit that pushups have never been easy for me). Is there any trick to avoiding such pain, maybe a way of exercising the right muscles to build up to it?

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    I would seek the advice of a doctor immediately. You may have some tissue damage that needs to be addressed if this type of movement is causing sharp pains. Cramps tend to last for (What feels like eons) a few seconds of very intense soul rending pain and are usually due to an electrolyte imbalance, review your calcium, sodium and potassium intake. – Christopher Douglas Feb 2 '15 at 18:13

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