Effects of aerobic endurance, muscle strength, and motor control exercise on physical fitness and musculoskeletal injury rate in preprofessional dancers: an uncontrolled trial

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012 Jun;35(5):381-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.04.014. Epub 2012 May 17.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate musculoskeletal injury rate and physical fitness before and 6 months after an endurance, strength, and motor control exercise program in preprofessional dancers.

Methods: This uncontrolled trial was completed at a college offering a professional bachelor degree in dance. Forty preprofessional dancers underwent a test battery before and after a 6-month lasting exercise program in addition to their regular dance lessons. Physical fitness was evaluated by means of a submaximal exercise test with continuous physiological monitoring and by a field test for explosive strength. Anthropometric measurements were taken to analyze the influence of fitness training on body composition. Musculoskeletal injury incidence and quality of life were recorded during the 6-month lasting intervention. An intention-to-treat analysis ("last observation carried forward" method) was used with a Student t test for normally distributed variables. The Wilcoxon signed rank and Mann-Whitney U tests were used as nonparametric tests.

Results: Physical fitness improved after the 6 months of additional training program (P<.05). The waist:hip ratio (P=.036) and the sum of the measured subcutaneous skin thickness (P=.001) significantly decreased. Twelve dancers developed musculoskeletal complaints, requiring temporary interruption of dancing.

Conclusions: The combination of regular dance lessons with an additional exercise program resulted in improved physical fitness in preprofessional dancers, without affecting the aesthetical appearance. A relatively high injury rate was observed during the intervention period. These results suggest that a randomized, controlled trial should be performed to examine the effectiveness of additional exercise in dancers on physical fitness and musculoskeletal injury rate.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Anthropometry
  • Belgium
  • Body Composition
  • Dancing / education*
  • Dancing / injuries*
  • Dancing / physiology
  • Education, Professional / methods
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult