The relationship between postural stability and dancers' past and future lower-limb injuries

Clark, T. and Redding, E. (2012) The relationship between postural stability and dancers' past and future lower-limb injuries. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 27 (4) pp. 197-204. ISSN 0885-1158 (print) 1938-2766 (online)


In an effort to address dance-related injuries, screening programs are typically employed to assess injury susceptibility. The aim of this study was to explore for potential links between postural stability and dancers’ previous lower-limb injuries and susceptibility to future lower-limb injuries. Eighty-five contemporary dance students were recruited at a UK dance conservatoire. Information concerning previous injuries was collected by self-report survey. The participants completed two balance tasks, one static and one dynamic, performed on a RS Scan Footscan pressure pad to calculate postural sway. Injuries in the participant cohort were then tracked for a 10-month period to assess injury susceptibility. The participants exhibited significantly less postural sway when balancing on the left leg than their right, and the women exhibited less postural sway than the men. A one-way ANOVA revealed that participants who had experienced a lower-limb injury in the 12 months prior to testing exhibited more postural sway than participants who had not experienced a lower-limb injury, with some of the differences attaining significance (p <0.05). No significant links were found between either postural sway or previous injury and future injury susceptibility. The results suggest that assessments of postural stability via centre of pressure measurements are a reliable method for assessing dancers’ balance ability. While reaffirming the importance of comprehensive, multidisciplinary screening programs, the results also highlight the necessity of developing a greater understanding of both dancers and the environments in which they dance and work to fully ascertain injury susceptibility.

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