Background: In literature there is a general consensus that the use of the mirror improves proprioception. During rehabilitation the mirror is an important instrument to improve stability. In some sports, such as dancing, mirrors are widely used during training. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the use of a mirror on balance in young dancers. Sixty-four young dancers (ranging from 9-10 years) were included in this study. Thirty-two attending lessons with a mirror (mirror- group) were compared to 32 young dancers that attended the same lessons without a mirror (non-mirror group). Balance was evaluated by BESS (Balance Error Scoring System), which consists of three stances (double limb, single limb, and tandem) on two surfaces (firm and foam). The errors were assessed at each stance and summed to create the two subtotal scores (firm and foam surface) and the final total score (BESS). The BESS was performed at recruitment (T0) and after 6 months of dance lessons (T1).
Results: The repeated measures ANOVA analysis showed that for the BESS total score there is a difference due to the time (F = 3.86; p < 0.05). No other differences due to the group or to the time of measurement were found (p > 0.05). The analysis of the multiple regression model showed the influence of the values at T0 for every BESS items and the dominance of limb for stability on an unstable surface standing on one or two legs.
Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest that the use of a mirror in a ballet classroom does not improve balance acquisition of the dancer. On the other hand, improvement found after 6 months confirms that at the age of the dancers studied motor skills and balance can easily be trained and improved.