Injuries in Professional Modern Dancers: Incidence, Risk Factors, and Management

In Research

J Dance Med Sci. 2012 Mar;16(1):17-25.


Shah S1, Weiss DS, Burchette RJ.


Modern (or contemporary) dance has become increasingly popular, yet little has been reported with respect to modern dance injuries and their consequences. The purpose of this study is to define the incidence, risk factors, and management of musculoskeletal injuries in professional modern dancers. A total of 184 dancers in the United States completed an anonymous 17-page questionnaire on their injuries, including extensive details regarding the two most severe injuries that had occurred in the prior 12 months. According to their self-reports, a total of 82% of the dancers had suffered between one and seven injuries. The foot and ankle (40%) was the most common site of injury, followed by the lower back (17%) and the knee (16%). The rate of injuries was 0.59 per 1,000 hours of class and rehearsal. Injured male dancers returned to full dancing after a median of 21 days, while females returned after a median of 18 days. Most dancers missed no performances due to injury. Of the medical consultations sought by dancers for their injuries, 47% were made to physicians, 41% to physical therapists, and 34% to chiropractors. The majority of dancers adhered to the advice given them by consultants (87% of males and 78% of females for the most severe injury). While the majority of injuries were considered work-related (61% of the most severe injury and 69% of the second most severe), few were covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance (12% and 5% respectively). These professional modern dancers suffer from a rate of injury similar to other groups of professional dancers. Most dancers return to a partial level of dancing several weeks before attempting full-capacity dancing.