• Dance is an activity that can be found in most cultures dating back to ancient times.

  • Dance is unique in its fusion of art and athletic activity.

  • Dance can increase cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and bone mineral density.

  • Classical ballet provides a foundation for other dance forms.

  • Other popular forms of dance include contemporary (modern), jazz, street, tap, Irish, folk dance, and ballroom. Although there is some crossover, each of these forms has unique features and injury profiles.


A 2011 study of American adolescents found that 20.9% participated in dance, making it the third most common physical activity in girls.



  • Professional female ballet dancers often start classes between ages 4 and 9, with males starting between ages 12 and 16.

  • Preprofessional ballet training begins at about age 11 but can start as early as age 8.

    • There is an increase in the duration and intensity of training.

    • Training is conducted 5–6 days per week, ranging from 6 to 45 hours per week.

  • The average age for professional ballet dancers is 26 to 27 years.

  • The average female body mass index (BMI) is 18–19; that for males is 21–22.



  • Injury rate: 75%–95% of ballet dancers suffer at least one injury per year, with an average of 3.0 to 3.2 injuries per dancer per year

  • 1.09 to 3.52 injuries per 1000 dance exposures

  • 0.6 to 4.4 injuries per 1000 hours of training


  • 53.6%–85% of injuries are from overuse and 12%–45% from acute trauma

  • Most injuries are of muscle strains, followed by ligament sprains and chronic inflammatory processes


  • The average time lost to injuries is 32.5 days in females and 21.6 days in males.

Anatomic Location Of Injury

  • Most common: foot and ankle, low back, hip, and knee

Risk Factors

  • Intrinsic risk factors for dance-related injuries include anatomic structure, inadequate strength and flexibility, improper technique, nutrition, previous injury, fatigue, inadequate turnout, higher rate of growth, and disordered eating behaviors.

  • Extrinsic risk factors include choreography, cold environment, dance floor properties (e.g., surface, resilience).

  • Students in summer intensive programs are at high risk of injury because of the sudden increase in hours of activity.



  • Professional female dancers start taking dance class at 6.5 years of age, whereas male dancers start at 15.6 years of age.

  • Most professional female modern dancers began their dance careers by studying ballet, whereas men began by studying modern dance.

  • The average age for female professional modern dancers is about 30 years; that for males is 31 years.

  • The average BMI for females is 20.6; that for males is 23.6.

  • Professional modern dancers study various forms of dance, including ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, African, and ballroom, outside the time they spend in rehearsal for their companies.

  • They spend an average of 8 hours taking various types of dance classes and about 17 hours in rehearsals for their companies.

  • Most dancers also spend about 2–3 hours per week doing some form of exercise outside of dance such as yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, weightlifting, running, biking, and walking.



  • Up to 82% suffer injuries per year

  • The annual incidence of injury is 1.2 in males and 1.7 in females

  • Injury rate: 0.6/1000 hours of dancing

  • The majority of injuries occur in class, followed by rehearsal and performance


  • Most injuries result from overuse or gradual onset (57%) rather than as a consequence of an acute or traumatic event (43%).

  • The most common injury types are muscle strains, followed by ligament sprains, and then other chronic inflammatory processes.


  • Dancers can return to partial dancing after an average of 2–3 weeks post injury.

  • Returning to full dancing can take an average of up to 2 months.

  • Modern dancers admit to returning to dance with pain.

  • Males miss fewer classes and rehearsals as a result of injury than females.

Anatomic Location

  • The most common sites of injury in descending order are ankle, low back, knee, and foot.

Risk Factors

  • Intrinsic risk factors: self-pressure, ignoring pain, and fatigue

  • Extrinsic risk factors:

    • The demands of the role and from the choreographer

    • Floor characteristics: surface, resilience, raked or not (floor angled down to audience for better viewing)


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