News Roundup

Eight in 10 dancers have an injury each year, survey shows

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 15 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:594
  1. Roger Dobson
  1. Abergavenny

    Eight in 10 dancers in the United Kingdom have at least one injury a year that affects their ability to perform. Almost one in 10 are underweight, and a quarter report having had an eating problem at some time. These are among the findings of the second UK national survey of dancers' health, injuries, and life style.

    The report—which looked at a range of issues, including the prevalence and causes of injury, eating disorders, psychological problems, smoking, and healthcare provision—makes a series of recommendations, including developing regular links with healthcare professionals.

    The results of the survey show that although improvements have occurred since the last survey in 1996, some areas still require action.

    It shows that 80% of the 1056 professional dancers surveyed experience at least one injury each year. Professional dancers had an average of 11.5 days off classes, 7.9 days off rehearsal and 6.6 days off performance because of injury in the previous year. Fourteen per cent of dancers had experienced a longer term injury that kept them off class, rehearsal and performance for up to 18 months.

    The highest rates of injury were among professional ballet dancers, of whom 85% had had an injury in the previous year. Dancers overall had an average of 3.2 injuries a year. The most common site of injury was the lower back, followed by the ankles and knees. One in four ballet dancers had a foot injury, and a third had ankle problems.

    One in five female professional dancers (21%) had experienced their periods stopping for six months or more at some point in the past, and 64% of them had sought medical advice at the time.

    The survey shows that 16% of dancers had an eating problem in the previous 12 months and that 25% reported a problem at some point in the past. It also found that 10% of dancers had a body mass index below that recommended for good health.

    The report makes a series of recommendations, including bringing in specialist advisers to talk to dancers about diet and eating and making sure that staff are able to recognise symptoms of eating problems.

    “Companies and schools should create a climate that is less obsessed with weight and thinness, and more concerned with body composition and health,” says the report.

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