Effects of aerobic endurance, muscle strength, and motor control exercise on physical fitness and musculoskeletal injury rate in preprofessional dancers: an uncontrolled trial

Wilhelm Mistiaen, Nathalie A Roussel, Dirk Vissers, Liesbeth Daenen, Steven Truijen, Jo Nijs
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2012, 35 (5): 381-9

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate musculoskeletal injury rate and physical fitness before and 6 months after an endurance, strength, and motor control exercise program in preprofessional dancers.

METHODS: This uncontrolled trial was completed at a college offering a professional bachelor degree in dance. Forty preprofessional dancers underwent a test battery before and after a 6-month lasting exercise program in addition to their regular dance lessons. Physical fitness was evaluated by means of a submaximal exercise test with continuous physiological monitoring and by a field test for explosive strength. Anthropometric measurements were taken to analyze the influence of fitness training on body composition. Musculoskeletal injury incidence and quality of life were recorded during the 6-month lasting intervention. An intention-to-treat analysis ("last observation carried forward" method) was used with a Student t test for normally distributed variables. The Wilcoxon signed rank and Mann-Whitney U tests were used as nonparametric tests.

RESULTS: Physical fitness improved after the 6 months of additional training program (P<.05). The waist:hip ratio (P=.036) and the sum of the measured subcutaneous skin thickness (P=.001) significantly decreased. Twelve dancers developed musculoskeletal complaints, requiring temporary interruption of dancing.

CONCLUSIONS: The combination of regular dance lessons with an additional exercise program resulted in improved physical fitness in preprofessional dancers, without affecting the aesthetical appearance. A relatively high injury rate was observed during the intervention period. These results suggest that a randomized, controlled trial should be performed to examine the effectiveness of additional exercise in dancers on physical fitness and musculoskeletal injury rate.

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