Injury Prevention Among Professional Ballet Dancers – A Qualitative Study


North Texas


Medical City Fort Worth

Document Type


Publication Date



wounds and injuries, occupational injuries, massage, rehabilitation, physical therapy modalities


Musculoskeletal, Neural, and Ocular Physiology | Other Medical Specialties | Sports Medicine | Therapeutics


Rationale: The physical stress placed on ballet dancers’ bodies during their professional career predisposes them to injury. Qualitative research can be used to examine ways to support current strategies that dancers use to stay healthy and to inform further research in areas where dancers may be most prone to injury.

Purpose: To examine therapies and strategies dancers use to keep healthy and to treat injury.

Educational Objectives:

At the end of the presentation, the participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the most common strategies dancers use to stay healthy
  2. Formulate an understanding of how professional dancers manage injury
  3. Identify the most common areas of injury among professional ballet dancers

Methods: A purposeful sample of five male and five female professional dancers from a professional ballet company were enrolled in a study using motion capture software to collect biomechanical measures over the course of a dance season. As part of this study, participants were asked to fill out an optional survey asking questions such as past injury, use of physical therapy, and other strategies to prevent injury. Counts and frequencies were calculated for quantitative responses. Thematic content analysis was used to hand code qualitative responses.

Results: The most common strategy used by dancers to keep healthy was massage therapy. Although not all dancers stated they used physical therapy for musculoskeletal injuries, all dancers responded “maybe once” or more when asked how many times per month they utilized physical therapy. The most common injuries reported by dancers historically were all lower extremity injuries, most commonly an ankle sprain.

Conclusions: Dance injuries commonly involve the lower extremities, particularly the ankles, feet, and hamstrings. Quantitative evaluation of the movement patterns in these areas of the body through the progression of the dance season would be of benefit in developing a kinematic model of ballet dancers’ movement and areas prone to injury. Further research would be beneficial to better qualify how dancers define injury and what leads them to seek out treatment in order to identify potential areas of intervention and education.

Publisher or Conference

Performing Arts Medicine Association Symposium

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