Background Irish dancing (ID) is a technically demanding art form practised by growing numbers internationally. However, research into musculoskeletal pain and injury in elite adult Irish dancers is scant.
Objective To establish the biopsychosocial characteristics of elite adult Irish dancers. To investigate any relationship between these characteristics and musculoskeletal pain and injury.
Design 104 elite adult Irish dancers completed a questionnaire providing data on dance and activity levels, physical and psychological health, pain and injury history. 84 of these subjects underwent a physical screen examining lower limb flexibility, balance and endurance, a number of functional tests, anthropometric and biomechanical/anatomical assessments.
Setting Testing was completed at a number of sites in Ireland using standardised portable equipment.
Participants The study cohort comprised professional Irish dancers (34.6%), elite competitive Irish dancers (26.9%), and dancers in full time education studying ID (38.5%). All participants were 18 years of age or older. Elite dancers from eleven different countries were tested.
Main outcome measurements Subjects were dichotomised into “significantly injured (SI)” and “not significantly injured (NSI)” categories based on reported levels of pain and injury. Specific injury data from the previous five years were also recorded.
Results 33 (31.7%) subjects were classified as SI, with the remaining 71 (68.3%) subjects classified as NSI. Factors significantly associated being SI were female gender (P=.036), higher number of subjective general health (P=.001) and psychological (P=.036) complaints, low mood (P=.01), higher catastrophising (P=.047) and failure to always warm-up (P=.006). The mean number of injuries sustained to all body parts over the previous five years was 1.49 with a mean of 126.1 days lost to injury. Foot and ankle injuries were most prevalent.
Conclusions A complex combination of biopsychosocial factors appears to be associated with a significant level of pain and injury in elite adult Irish dancers.
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