Association between pre-participation characteristics and risk of injury amongst pre-professional dancers

Phys Ther Sport. 2021 Nov;52:239-247. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2021.10.003. Epub 2021 Oct 8.


Study design: Prospective Cohort Study.

Background: Few investigations utilize evidence-informed pre-participation evaluation, inclusive injury definitions, and prospective surveillance to identify risk factors for dance-related injuries.

Objective: To evaluate pre-participation characteristics that may be associated with greater odds of dance-related musculoskeletal complaints in pre-professional dancers.

Methods: Full-time pre-professional ballet [n = 85, 77 females, median (range) age 15-years (11-19)] and contemporary [n = 60, 58 females, 19-years (17-30)] dancers underwent pre-participation evaluation: baseline questionnaire, coping skills, body mass index, bone mineral density, ankle range-of-motion, active standing turnout, lumbopelvic control, and balance tests. Self-reported complaints (any physical problem making dance participation difficult, irrespective of medical attention or time-loss) were captured weekly via online questionnaires for one academic year. Self-reported musculoskeletal complaints were recorded weekly (yes/no). Potential risk factors were identified a-priori through systematic review. Associations between potential risk factors and musculoskeletal complaints were examined with generalized linear mixed method regression models.

Results: Response rate was 99%, with 81% of dancers reporting at least one musculoskeletal complaint. Of 1521 complaints (19% first-time, 81% ongoing), the ankle (22%), knee (21%), and foot (12%) accounted for the majority. Injury history [odds ratio (OR) 7.37 (95% CI 3.41, 15.91)] and previous week's dance hours [OR 1.02 (1.01, 1.03)] were associated with dance-related musculoskeletal complaints.

Conclusions: Prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints amongst pre-professional dancers is high and associated with injury history and training volume. Further understanding of the relationship between training load and injury is needed, with particular consideration of the dynamic and recursive nature of dance injury etiology.

Level of evidence: Therapy / Prevention, Aetiology / Harm, level 2b.

Keywords: Dancing; Injury prevention; Injury surveillance; Screening; Training load.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ankle
  • Ankle Joint
  • Dancing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular