Objective: Sports science has identified the trainer-athlete relationship in the etiology of injuries. We aimed to investigate: 1) the association between empowering (EMC) and disempowering (DMC) motivational-climate and musculoskeletal injuries in ballet, and 2) if EMC moderates the association between DMC and injuries.
Methods: A cross-sectional cohort survey-study was conducted online among ballet dancers (>18 yrs old) reporting acute and overuse injuries of the previous 2 years. Motivational climate was assessed with the Empowering-and-Disempowering Motivational Climate Questionnaire (5-point Likert scale). The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre Overuse Injury Questionnaire assessed severity of overuse injuries. Linear regression was performed adjusted for the confounders age, sex, expertise, experience, and initiation-age with an interaction term between EMC and DMC to assess effect modification.
Results: An international sample of 189 dancers (26.7±7.9 yrs; 130 professionals) reported 197 acute and 465 overuse injuries (in the previous 2 years). Mean EMC was 3.1±1.07, DMC 3.3±1.08. EMC was associated with less acute (b=-0.22; 95%CI -0.40 to -0.04) and overuse injuries (b=-0.74; 95%CI -0.99 to -0.50), while DMC was associated with more injuries (acute: b=0.30; 95%CI 0.13 to 0.47; overuse: b=0.74; 95%CI 0.50 to 0.98). When tested together and adjusted for confounders, EMC lost its protective effect (acute: b=-0.15; 95%CI -0.19 to 0.49; overuse: b=-0.34; 95%CI -0.81 to 0.13). DMC was positively associated with injuries throughout all settings (acute: b=0.43; 95%CI 0.10 to 0.76; overuse: b=0.46; 95%CI 0.00 to 0.91). EMC showed no moderating effects on DMC in the adjusted models.
Conclusion: To avoid injuries, it is not enough to create an EMC, because any disempowering nuances may negatively affect empowering climates. Teachers should avoid DMC altogether to prevent injuries in dancers.