Dancers - More Power To You!: Video from the 2014 Annual Meeting
Presented by: Jatin P. Ambegaonkar PhD, ATC
Watching a dancer perform can be breathtaking and fun. Being a dancer is hard! This is because dancer’s movements often involve jumping and landing. To safely perform these explosive movements, dancers need good power in their lower body (Lower Body Power - LBP). Understandably, 70% of all dance-related injuries are to the lower body. Dancers are also supposed to have better balance than non-dancers. In athletics, sprinters with better strength and power and balance have better performance. In modern dance, aesthetic performance and jump ability are positively correlated to each other. However, research investigating potential interrelationships between LB power and balance among dancers is lacking.
We examined (a) the relationships between LBP measures and balance in dancers, and (b) the relative contributions of LBP to predict balance in 61 female collegiate dancers (18.3 + 0.7 years, 164.7 + 7.3 cm, 61.7 + 9.5 kg and with 11.3 + 4.8 years of dance experience). The dancers performed three vertical jumps on the Just Jump Mat (Probiotics, Huntsville, Alabama USA) and we calculated Peak and Average Power. Dancers also performed the Single leg hop for distance, which examines horizontal LBP. We measured balance using the Star Excursion Balance Test, a commonly used valid and reliable test of balance, which has been found to predict the risk of injury.
Our primary findings were that all balance and LBP measures were positively correlated to each other. We found that the more powerful dancers also had generally better balance. Our findings thus challenge the often-pervasive myth among that being more powerful equates to being more muscular, which then can worsen dance performance. In fact, our evidence supports the opposite view that for dancers, being more ‘powerful’ also translates as being more ‘balanced’ - a MUCH desirable quality!
We are excited with this finding as, to our knowledge, our results are among the first times in the dance medicine and science that we can say to dance teachers and healthcare professionals that dancers balance and power are positively related to each other. In fact, our data suggest that the three LBP measures collectively combined to predict almost 50% of the change in balance scores. Overall, for dancers being powerful is really a good thing! Furthermore, prior researchers have noted that training can improve power, strength, and dancer performance. Combining these prior reports with our findings, we can recommend that dance medicine and science professionals need to encourage dancers to incorporate strength and power training outside of dance practice in their training regimens to improve balance and overall dance performance.
Ambegaonkar, J. P., Caswell, S. V., & Cortes, N. (2014). Relationships among lower body power measures and balance in female collegiate dancers. Paper presented at the 24th Annual Meeting of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science, Basel, Switzerland.