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Dancers know a thing or two about jumping!

Recent studies by the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries compared jumping biomechanics between dancers and other athletes.

They looked at the effects of gender and fatigue on jumping technique and found that in the non-fatigued dancers, there were no significant differences between male and female dancers and male athletes, however female athletes had risk-associated landing techniques (for ACL/knee injuries).  Fatigue was an issue for all participants.  Male and female dancers and athletes all showed poor landing technique (consistent with an increased risk of ACL injury) after they were fatigued however, the dancers took longer to become fatigued than the athletes.

Harkness researchers propose several explanations for the differences in jumping mechanics between female dancers and athletes and the differences in endurance between dancers and athletes.  These are:

  • Dancers are trained how to land jumps from a very young age.
  • Significant emphasis is placed on trunk and core muscle control and lower extremity alignment.
  • Dancers perform approximately 200 jumps every class and elite dancers may do several classes in a day, which will improve their endurance and resistance to fatigue.

While dancers tend to show better endurance than athletes in jumping, they did still show poor technique in jumping once they were tired.

Fatigue is important to pay attention to during this season of recitals, exams, and end of year performances.

After spending hours in a theatre rehearsing for a show, even dancers will fatigue.

In order to prevent injuries, it is important to get

 adequate rest and recovery.

Most importantly: remember your training!  Try to land softly in a toe-ball-heel order, with knees over 2-3rd toes and pelvis in neutral.  If you are unable to control your landing towards the end of a long rehearsal, try marking the jumps and save your energy for the show.

For more information, please see the studies done by the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries:

1. Comparison of Landing Biomechanics Between Male and Female Dancers and Athletes, Part 1 Influence of Sex on Risk of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Orishimo, KF ; Liederbach, M ; Kremenic, IJ ; Hagins, M ; Pappas, E

American Journal Of Sports Medicine, 2014, Vol.42(5), pp.1082-1088

2. Comparison of Landing Biomechanics Between Male and Female Dancers and Athletes, Part 2 Influence of Fatigue and Implications for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Liederbach, M ; Kremenic, IJ ; Orishimo, KF ; Pappas, E ; Hagins, M

American Journal Of Sports Medicine, 2014, Vol.42(5), pp.1089-1095

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