Background Dance is a popular activity among youth at all levels and involves large volumes of training. Reported injury estimates are high in this population, warranting investigation of training volume and injury patterns throughout multiple training years.
Objective To describe musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries and dance exposure in elite adolescent ballet dancers across three training seasons.
Design Prospective cohort.
Setting Vocational ballet school.
Patients (or Participants) Dancers registered in full-time elite-level ballet training [n=172; 152 female, median (range) age 15 years (10–21)].
Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) Volume of dance training (hours) was self-reported weekly via online questionnaire.
Main Outcome Measurements Dance-related MSK injuries were registered by self-report (weekly, online modified Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre Questionnaire on Health Problems). Three injury definitions were utilized: physical complaints (any complaint leading to difficulty participating), medical attention (any complaint resulting in care from a clinician), time-loss (unable to complete ≥1 class/rehearsal/performance for ≥1 day(s)). Means (SD) for weekly dance hours and weekly injury prevalence (proportion of dancers injured/week) were estimated.
Results Questionnaire response rates ranged from 89% (year 3) to 99% (year 1). Across three training years, dance volume ranged from 19.26 hours/week (SD:4.59) (year 3) to 22.17 (SD:5.28) (year 2), mean weekly injury prevalence ranged from 21% (year 3) to 31% (year 1) (physical complaints); 15% (years 2&3) to 24% (year 1) (medical attention), and 5% (years 1&3) to 9% (year 2) (time-loss). Weekly self-reported injuries mirrored the fluctuations in weekly dance exposure across the three years.
Conclusions Elite adolescent dancers report long hours of weekly training with variations across a training season. When defined as a physical complaint, dance-related MSK injury estimates are high in this population. As dance exposure hours increase, so do self-reported injury estimates. Further research is needed to explore associations between intensity of dance exposure (i.e., training load) and injuries to inform development of effective injury prevention strategies for this high-risk group of artistic athletes.
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