The extreme physical demands experienced by dancers place them at high risk for significant injury. The consequences of these injuries can be quite substantial and include missed performance opportunities and income, ongoing pain and disability, and expensive treatment including surgery. Serious injuries can even lead to early retirement from dance careers and lifelong disability.
Keeping dancers injury free is also essential for optimal mental and physical wellbeing outside of dance and when transitioning careers in the future. Luckily, advancements are constantly being made in sports medicine, injury prevention and exercise physiology shifting the focus of dance medicine from treatment to prevention. However, to successfully introduce and evaluate best practice prevention activities, the dance injury problem must be described and risk factors must be identified on an ongoing basis.
Safe Dance IV
The 4th Safe Dance project, Safe Dance IV—Investigating injuries in Australia’s professional dancers, is a collaboration between The University of Sydney and Ausdance National. This national survey of all professional dancers in Australia was conducted by Amy Vassallo, a PhD candidate, and her supervisors Dr Claire Hiller, A/Prof Evangelos Pappas and A/Prof Emmanuel Stamatakis. It was based on previous national and international dance injury studies, a comprehensive review of relevant literature in the field of sports medicine and epidemiological research and expert advice from the local dance community.
Read Safe Dance Report IV.
Through the Safe Dance IV project, we now better understand:
- the current prevalence of injuries in Australia’s professional dance population
- risk and protective factors for common dance injuries
- rehabilitation practices and health service access by dancers
- the impact of different injuries on dancers’ overall quality of life
- the effect of previous initiatives on dance injury prevention.
Developing this better understanding of the changing injury profile in Australia’s dancers will assist in evaluating and tailoring future evidence-based injury prevention initiatives, with the long-term goal of safely sustaining dancers in their chosen career for as long as possible.
Earlier Safe Dance® research reports
- The Safe Dance I report presented the results of a survey of Australian professional dancers. Of the 172 people who answered the survey, 86% of them were under 30 years of age and 52% suffered a chronic injury by the age of 18. The report was supported by statistics and extensive consultation with dance and health professionals.
- The Safe Dance II report, researched by Tony Geeves as part of his PhD studies six years after the publication of the Safe Dance Project Report, makes recommendations for extended dance teacher education and reassessment of the physical and psychological environment for teenagers who are training intensively.
- The Safe Dance III report (1999) research findings indicated a picture of improved dancers' health. As in any athletic activity, there will be injuries, but this study showed that improvements in injury prevention and management can be, and are being, made.