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Comparisons in Physical Characteristics of Professional Ballet and Collegiate Dancers

Williams, Valerie (2016) Comparisons in Physical Characteristics of Professional Ballet and Collegiate Dancers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Dancers are a group of athletes with unique physical and performance characteristics. Dance medicine and science is a growing field, as researchers and clinicians see the need for information specific to this population due to high injury rates. Comprehensive information on separate types of dancers, especially collegiate dancers, is unavailable. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare characteristics of professional ballet and collegiate dancers, as well as investigate the relationships among these characteristics. The first portion of the study investigates differences in body composition, lower extremity and trunk muscular strength, dynamic postural stability, and landing kinematics of professional ballet dancers and collegiate dance majors. The second portion of the study determines the ability of strength to predict dynamic postural stability and kinematic variables that are potential risk factors for injury including, knee valgus, ankle inversion, and foot pronation.
Fifty nine dancers participated in the study (30 professional ballet and 29 collegiate). Equal proportions of males and females were in each group. Dancers completed an injury history questionnaire, followed by assessments of body composition, dynamic postural stability, kinematics during a dance jump task, and isokinetic and isometric muscular strength.
Results demonstrate that professional dancers are significantly stronger than collegiate dancers for most muscle groups tested. The study found no significant differences in dynamic postural stability, and minimal differences in kinematics. No differences were found in self-reported injury histories, except that a greater proportion of professional dancers reported injuries to the ankle, and foot and toe regions. Regression analyses revealed that gender and trunk rotation strength predicted dynamic postural stability. Gender and knee flexion strength predicted maximum knee valgus angle. Gender and knee extension strength predicted ankle inversion angle at initial contact and, gender and knee flexion strength predicted maximum inversion angle. No significant predictors of foot pronation angle were found. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of professional ballet and collegiate dancers and provides insight into the relationships among their characteristics and abilities. Further research should investigate relationships in each gender separately, as well as study additional variables that explain the relationship between strength and biomechanics.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Williams, Valerievjw5@pitt.eduVJW5
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLovalekar, Mitamtl13@pitt.eduMTL13
Committee MemberConnaboy, Christopherconnaboy@pitt.eduCONNABOY
Committee MemberNagai, Takashitnagai@pitt.eduTNAGAI
Committee MemberNindl, Bradley bnindl@pitt.eduBNINDL
Committee MemberSell, Timothy
Date: 2 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2016
Approval Date: 2 June 2016
Submission Date: 21 March 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 302
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Sports Medicine and Nutrition
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: dancers, physical characteristics, muscular strength, dynamic postural stability, kinematics, injury
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2016 13:00
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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