While some people might not consider it a classic sport like football, baseball or basketball, ballet places a great deal of stress on the bodies of the dancers. It should be no surprise that musculoskeletal ballet injuries can, and do, occur.

Knowing what types of injuries ballet dancers suffer most commonly, and who is most at risk for them is key for orthopedic surgeons and physicians to better care for these athletes.

A new study published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine sheds some light on ballet injuries. Preston J Smith, M.D. and others at Houston Methodist Hospital performed a systematic review of scientific studies to determine the prevalence of injuries and injury patterns among dancers – male and female, amateur to professional.

Ballet injuries are unfortunately common.

Types of ballet injuries

  • 75% to 91% of all ballet injuries affect the lower extremity.
  • 39% to 53% of injuries occur in the foot and ankle, specifically.
  • Lumbosacral pain, or pain of the lower back, affects 62% of dancers, according to one study.
  • 29% of dancers have patellofemoral pain syndrome, according to another study.
  • 91% of dancers report a snapping hip, according to one study. 58% of those dancers have pain from it.

Injury rates in ballet dancers

  • Amateur dancers have 0.97 injuries per 1000 dance hours. Professional dancers have a higher incidence of injuries – 1.24 injuries per 1000 dance hours. Combined, amateur and professional dancers suffer 1.09 injuries for 1000 dance hours.
  • Male dancers have a higher injury rate than the females – 1.29 injuries per 1000 dance hours compared to 1.03.

Also read:
Flexor Hallucis Longus (FHL) Tendinitis
Female athlete triad

Overuse ballet injuries

  • Overuse injuries comprise 75% of all injuries to amateur dancers.
  • 57% of injuries in professional ballet dancers are overuse injuries.

Ballet is a popular sport, and the participants have unbelievable physical abilities. With a better understanding the demands on their bodies and injuries they can suffer, orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine physicians can design strategies to decrease injuries in the sport.

The foot is a common location of ballet injuries

Smith PJ, Gerrie BJ, Varner KE, McCulloch PC, Lintner DM, Harris JD. Incidence and Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Injury in Ballet: A Systematic Review. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 2015;3(7).