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Medical Xpress
June 24, 2014

Sports Medicine Australia
June 17, 2014



Ballet dancers are exposed to a high risk of injury compared to other adolescent athletes, a study shows. The study, co-authored by Christina Ekegren from Monash University, involved more than 260 [112 male] elite ballet students [aged 15-19 years old] from three pre-professional ballet schools in London. The aim of the study was to evaluate the rates and risks of injuries, the amount of time students spent dancing, and the consequence of injuries for the dancers.

Ms Ekegren, from the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, said the study found that 76 per cent of the dancers were injured over a one-year period.

“Seventy-two per cent of injuries were because of overuse, with the remaining injuries caused by a traumatic incident,” Ms Ekegren said. “Overuse injuries often result from a high amount of training or underestimating the amount of time needed to recover.”

“During our surveillance, we found that the majority of the dancers monitored danced six days per week with each participant dancing an average of 30 hours per week – this was on top of their normal school work. There was very little variation in the type of training undertaken, with the majority of time spent in ballet classes.”

Ms Ekegren said ankles were the most commonly injured part of the body.

“Dance is one of the most physically demanding activities undertaken by young people. In comparison to other adolescent athletes, ballet dancers have a high risk of injury.”

“Given that injuries sustained by young dancers during their training often recur in their professional careers and are a leading cause of early retirement, if young dancers could avoid injury they could potentially extend their professional longevity. We recommend that dancers are educated on the importance of recovery time, and clinicians and teachers carefully monitor training loads,” Ms Ekegren said.

The information from the study will help provide information to students and their parents about the risks associated with choosing to pursue full-time dance training. It will also help to direct future research in the area.

More information: “Injuries in pre-professional ballet dancers: Incidence, characteristics and consequences,” Christina L. Ekegren, Rachele Quested, Anna Brodrick. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport – May 2014 (Vol. 17, Issue 3, Pages 271-275, DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.013) [subscription required]


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One Comment

  1. I’m astonished to read this. During the 15 years I trained professional ballet students I never saw anything close to these stats.

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