Context

Professional dance is a demanding physical activity with high injury rates. Currently, no epidemiologic data exist regarding the incidence of injury and illness together with training load (TL) over a long period of time.

Objective

To provide a detailed description of injury, illness, and TL occurring in professional contemporary dancers.

Design

Descriptive epidemiology study.

Setting

A single professional contemporary dance company during a 1-year period.

Patients or Other Participants

A total of 16 male and female professional contemporary dancers.

Main Outcome Measures

Injury data consisted of medical-attention injury (Med-Inj) and time-loss injury (Time-Inj). Illness was measured using the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Survey. Training load was collected for each dance session using the session rating of perceived exertion and classified into 3 groups based on individual and group percentiles: low, medium, or high.

Results

Reported injuries totaled 79 (86.1% new, 6.3% reinjury, and 7.6% exacerbation). The Med-Inj incidence rate was 4.6 per 1000 hours (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.8, 5.8), and the Time-Inj rate was 1.4 per 1000 hours (95% CI = 0.8, 2.1). The median time until injury for Med-Inj and Time-Inj was 3 months. The number of days dancers experienced illness symptoms was 39.9 ± 26.9 (range = 1–96), with an incidence rate of 9.1 per 1000 hours (95% CI = 7.7, 10.7). Mean weekly TL was 6685 ± 1605 (4641–10 391; arbitrary units). Inconsistent results were found for the incidence of injury and illness based on individual and group categorizations of TL.

Conclusions

Professional dancing is associated with high injury and illness rates. This is worrying from a health perspective and underlines the need for further studies to understand how to decrease the risk. The TL is higher than in other sport disciplines, but whether the high incidence of injuries and illnesses is related to high training demands needs additional investigation, possibly conducted as international, multicenter collaborative studies.

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