'Force strength' could indicate bone health in ballet dancers

January 20, 2014 by Vicky Manley, Science Network WA
‘Force strength’ could indicate bone health in ballet dancers
“Dance instructors and choreographers welcome research illuminating any correlation between bone density and force generation that has the potential to increase long-term health in dancers"—Mr Weidemann. Credit: Judith Garcia

Ballet dancers' bone health is under investigation in an attempt to understand the long associated risk of bone stress injury—responsible for shattering the careers of many talented performers.

The study, by ex-professional ballet dancer Penelope Blanco of Edith Cowan University's School of Exercise and Health Sciences, assessed bone health in local ballet across age and performance levels.

"Previous studies have been done on the relationship between bone health and injury occurrence, however little research has investigated the effect of bone health in ballet dancers across age and performance level," Ms Blanco, who is also a Masters candidate, says.

Ms Blanco says young can eat very little to stay thin, overtrain, suffer decreased hormone levels, amenorrhea and risk low , stress fractures and osteoporosis.

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) classical dance lecturer Andries Weidemann shares similar concerns.

He says the skills required of dancers demands that they train intensely from a very young age, across the growth spectrum into adulthood.

"Many dancers' careers are curtailed by injuries that involve bones and since bone density [or lack thereof] seems to be a contributing factor, the scientific exploration and possible preventative action is of immense interest to dance teachers and practitioners," Mr Weidemann says.

The cross-sectional study involved a comparison between fulltime ballet students (~16 years-old), university students (~20.4 years-old) and professional dancers (~23.8 years-old) assessing their (BMC) and (BMD) values.

Physiological characteristics such as body composition, isometric strength (muscle strength), anaerobic and aerobic capacity were measured.

Isometric peak force (IPF) was assessed as this is known to influence dancers jump ability. This was quantified by rate of force development (RFD).

"We know that to achieve greater force a dancer must have greater muscular strength," says Ms Blanco.

Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans measured the BMC and BMD of the three groups.

Results found a positive correlation between a ballet dancer's strength values (IPF) and their BMC and BMD scores and rate of force development.

The most significant difference was noted between the adolescent full time students and the young adult university group.

Ms Blanco says the practical application of the research would involve measuring a dancer's isometric strength as a predictor of .

"Dance instructors and choreographers welcome research illuminating any correlation between bone density and force generation that has the potential to increase long-term health in dancers," Mr Weidemann says.

Explore further: Going through the motions improves dance performance

Related Stories

Going through the motions improves dance performance

July 23, 2013
Expert ballet dancers seem to glide effortlessly across the stage, but learning the steps is both physically and mentally demanding. New research suggests that dance marking—loosely practicing a routine by "going through ...

Ballet dancers' brains adapt to stop them getting in a spin

September 26, 2013
Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes.

Study provides guidance on drug holidays from popular osteoporosis treatments

January 15, 2014
Doctors commonly recommend drug holidays, or breaks, from certain osteoporosis drugs due to the risks associated with these treatments. Yet little has been known about the ideal duration of the holidays and how best to manage ...

Overweight linked with reduced lung function in children with a history of early childhood wheezing

January 2, 2014
Overweight and obesity are significant risk factors for reduced lung function in school-aged children with a history of early childhood wheezing, according to a study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland. The ...

Increase in physical activity in men optimizes peak bone mass

May 21, 2012
(HealthDay) -- For young men, increasing physical activity over a five-year period is associated with improvements in bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD), according to a study published in the May issue ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.