Purpose: Few ballet-specific studies in the literature examine kinematics during dance activities. Sports studies have identified injury risk in athletes by observing kinematics during specific activity, but this has not yet been explored for ballet. Evaluating kinematics in dancers has the potential to identify injury risk and influence treatment for prevention and rehabilitation. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the landing kinematics of professional ballet dancers during a series of 16 ballet-specific jumps. Methods: This study was a multi-factor repeated measures design. Participants (3 males, 16 females aged 19-33 years; first or second company members) performed 16 consecutive sautés in first position to a metronome set at 120 beats per minute. Lower extremity kinematic data was captured using the Noraxon myoMOTIONTM system and was analyzed at peak knee flexion of landing on jumps 1, 8, and 15 for hip abduction (HA), hip flexion (HF), and hip external rotation (HER). Analyses included: right versus left side differences (RvL), differences between jumps 1, 8, and 15, and interaction between the specific jump and RvL. Results: Statistically significant differences (SD) were found in: RvL HA (p=0.000, 10.68 degrees; clinically relevant) and in HF between jumps 1 and 8 (p=0.000) and 1 and 15 (p=0.006). There was no interaction effect of HA between jump number and RvL (p=0.470) or of HER between jump number and RvL (p=0.599). There was no SD in: HF between jumps 8 and 15 (p=0.245), HA between jumps (p=0.062), RvL HF (p=0.190), RvL HF between jumps (p=0.972), HER between jumps (p=0.366), or RvL HER (p=0.562). Conclusions: The RvL difference in HA (p=0.000) suggests asymmetrical loading of hip joints. This difference did not change between jumps (p=0.062), suggesting repeated preferential frontal plane loading. The SD in HF between jumps 1 and 8 (p=0.000) and 1 and 15 (p=0.006) suggests that a small series of jumps that are standard in ballet class are not consistent motions for professional dancers. Limitations include small sample size and lack of controlled warm up. Future work should examine single leg jumps or sautés following a fatigue protocol to assess joint motion more accurately.

Author Bio(s)

Jessica Smith, SPT, BA, is a student of physical therapy at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2017. Her future clinical interests include performing artists and athletes.

Dr. Kevin Robinson, PT, DSc, OCS, has over 34 years of clinical experience with the management of orthopedic and sports injuries. Dr. Robinson is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. He has maintained is Certification as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialists from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) since 1995 and is also involved in his clinical practice at the Performance Therapy Institute in Franklin, TN. His clinical practice melds his love of patient care with his formal training in biomechanics and orthopedics. He routinely performs clinical 3D gait and movement analysis to develop rehab and training programs for patients and athletes.

Dr. Pat Sells, DA, MA, ACSM-CEP, received his undergraduate degree at Tennessee Technological University in Physical Education and completed his Master’s degree in adaptive Physical education there as well. After a period of time in the corporate world working for the consulting firm Arthur Anderson, Dr. Sells returned to academia and completed his Doctoral studies at Middle Tennessee State University.

Dr. Sells’ clinical background in exercise physiology includes both Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and exercise testing and prescription in athletes. Dr. Sells is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Clinical Exercise Specialist (CES), as an Advanced Cardiac Life Support provider and is certified as a golf fitness instructor by the Titleist Performance Institute. Dr. Sells has research interest in a variety of lines, including concussion in youth sports, Blood Flow Restriction, muscle oxygen saturation, movement studies in golf, dance, and plyometric landing. Dr. Sells teaches courses in Human Physiology, Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy, Statistics, Critical Inquiry and Health and Wellness. Dr. Sells is a reviewer for the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Prior to joining the Physical Therapy Department, Dr. Sells served as the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His clinical experience includes metabolic testing and rehabilitation with diverse patient populations including; heart transplant recipients, congestive heart failure, COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, obesity, diabetic athletes and children.


The authors would like to acknowledge Susan Underwood Physical Therapy and the Nashville Ballet for their collaboration and participation in this research.




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