Ankle flexibility and injury patterns in dancers

Am J Sports Med. 1996 Nov-Dec;24(6):754-7. doi: 10.1177/036354659602400609.


Lower-extremity injuries are common among dancers and cause significant absences from rehearsals and performances. For this study of lower-extremity injuries in 101 ballet and 47 modern dance students, injuries requiring medical attention sustained over 1 academic year were associated with the following data obtained at the beginning of the school year: ankle flexibility, sex, dance discipline, previous injury, body mass index, and years of training. Eighty-three of the 148 students (age range, 12 to 28 years) reported prior lower-limb injuries, the most common being ankle sprains (28% of all dancers). Previous leg injuries correlated significantly with lower dorsiflexion measurements and with more new injuries. Female students had greater ankle and first metatarsophalangeal flexibility. Modern dancers had greater ankle inversion. Ninety-four students sustained 177 injuries during the study, including 75 sprains or strains and 71 cases of tendinitis. Thirty-nine percent (N = 69) were ankle injuries; 18% (N = 33) were knee injuries; 23% (N = 40) were foot injuries; and 20% (N = 35) were either hip or thigh injuries. Sixty-seven percent (N = 78) of the injured students were ballet dancers. Age, years of training, body mass index, sex, and ankle range of motion measurement had no predictive value for injury; previous injury and dance discipline both correlated with increased risk of injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint* / physiology*
  • Child
  • Dancing / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular*