The aim of this thesis is to bring together facts about the current state of scientific research in the field of classical ballet, focussing on physical requirements, such as an enlarged range of motion and most common occurring injuries.
In professional classical ballet, dancers are constantly working on their flexibility and range of motion, which, on the long run, leads to being at high risk of developing various kinds of injuries.
„Dancers move various body segments in repetitive rhythmic fashion to demonstrate their artistic expression and athletic prowess while placing significant physical demands on their bodies. This often requires extreme ranges of motion, particularly of the hip, as well as controlled displays of strength to obtain optimal form. Dance medicine has sought to define injury rates in dancers over recent years in hopes of identifying risk factors and devising improved prevention techniques for the unique injury patterns seen.“ (Trentacosta et al. 2017, p.1)
In a 10-year retrospective study, Ramkumar et al. (2016) suggested that „Over the 10-year span, 574 injuries occurred. There were approximately 52 dancers per year for a total of 153 who danced at least one complete season during the study period. The average age was 27, and 53% were female. Given turnover with retirement and replacements, the total number of dancer-years was 520, indicating an injury incidence per annum of 1.10 (574 injuries per 520 dancer-years).” (p.1.)
Classical ballet dance is well known for its high technical requirements, such as an enlarged range of motion of the hip joint, especially external rotation. Therefore, Simmel (2014) stated that an excessive turnout is said to be the main reason for problems and pain in dance.
Various authors suggest the ideal external rotation in classical ballet to be 180°, with some sources distinguishing between anatomical turnout, technically correct turnout, functional turnout, compensated turnout and additionally active and passive turnout (Champion & Chatfield, 2008; Pata et al., 2014; Simmel, 2014). Summarizing the currently screened literature the reported majority of injuries in classical ballet are injuries of the lower extremity, with overuse injuries making up 76% (Ramkumar et al., 2016; Smith et al., 2015). Simmel (2014) states common overuse injuries of the hip and knee joint to be iliopsoas syndrome, piriformis syndrome, impingement, arthrosis, chondropathia patellae, bursitis, morbus osgood schlatter, patellar tendinopathy and meniscal degeneration.
Professional classical ballet dancers are, from the very beginning of their careers on, starting mostly in their early childhood, at a very high risk for developing various kinds of injuries (Smith et al., 2016). Their bodies have to endure intense training and practice, often without finding the needed time to rest properly in between.
Since the classical ballet technique requires flexibility, strength and an enlarged range of motion, it presents a broad field of work for physiotherapists.
In this thesis a literature research will be conducted, targeting the central research question „Which kind of relation is there between an enlarged range of motion of the hip joint and common injuries in professional classical ballet dancers?“.