Measurement of the extreme ankle range of motion required by female ballet dancers

Foot Ankle Spec. 2010 Dec;3(6):324-30. doi: 10.1177/1938640010374981. Epub 2010 Jun 25.


Female ballet dancers require extreme ankle motion, especially plantar flexion, but research about measuring such motion is lacking. The purposes of this study were to determine in a sample of ballet dancers whether non-weight-bearing ankle range of motion is significantly different from the weight-bearing equivalent and whether inclinometric plantar flexion measurement is a suitable substitute for standard plantar flexion goniometry. Fifteen female ballet dancers (5 university, 5 vocational, and 5 professional dancers; age 21 ± 3.0 years) volunteered. Subjects received 5 assessments on 1 ankle: non-weight-bearing goniometry dorsiflexion (NDF) and plantar flexion (NPF), weight-bearing goniometry in the ballet positions demi-plié (WDF) and en pointe (WPF), and non-weight-bearing plantar flexion inclinometry (IPF). Mean NDF was significantly lower than WDF (17° ± 1.3° vs 30° ± 1.8°, P < .001). NPF (77° ± 2.5°) was significantly lower than both WPF (83° ± 2.2°, P = .01) and IPF (89° ± 1.6°, P < .001), and WPF was significantly lower than IPF (P = .013). Dorsiflexion tended to decrease and plantar flexion tended to increase with increasing ballet proficiency. The authors conclude that assessment of extreme ankle motion in female ballet dancers is challenging, and goniometry and inclinometry appear to measure plantar flexion differently.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Arthrometry, Articular
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*