Is There a Relationship Between Female Ballet Injuries and Maturation? A Review
Ballet dancers are not a well-represented cohort in the area of sports medicine. Although an influx of research has been conducted on the dancing population in more recent years, the literature available still has many gaps and as a whole is of low quality. To date, connections have yet to be drawn between the issues of delayed maturation and injury prevalence being seen in young ballet dancers. Young elite female dancers are reporting high injury rates, although more well-constructed studies are required to better understand the injury epidemiology in this group. What is apparent, is that the lower extremities and back are amongst common injury locations, while stress fractures and overuse injuries are consistently reported. Delays in menarche and menstrual irregularities are often present in female dancers, which may impact skeletal development during the critical time of bone accrual, and subsequently increase the risk of dancers acquiring injuries such as stress fractures. Such maturational delays are likely due to multivariate causes, but regardless pose as an issue when the high training load on the body of pre-professional dance training during the pre-adolescent and adolescent years are considered. However, the contributions of these various factors to dance injuries has not yet been comprehensively evaluated, and require further investigation. Determining appropriate screening measures for female ballet dancers around the time of maturation, and developing effective intervention and treatment strategies, should be considered an important direction of future research to address the injuries being acquired by young female dancers.