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Self-Described Differences Between Legs in Ballet Dancers: Do They Relate to Postural Stability and Ground Reaction Force Measures?

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Ballet technique classes are designed to train dancers symmetrically, but they may actually create a lateral bias. It is unknown whether dancers in general are functionally asymmetrical, or how an individual dancer's perceived imbalance between legs might manifest itself. The purpose of this study was to examine ballet dancers' lateral preference by analyzing their postural stability and ground reaction forces in fifth position when landing from dance-specific jumps. Thirty university ballet majors volunteered to participate in this study. The subjects wore their own ballet technique shoes and performed fundamental ballet jumps out of fifth position on a force plate. The force plate recorded center of pressure (COP) and ground reaction force (GRF) data. Each subject completed a laterality questionnaire that determined his or her preferred landing leg for ballet jumps, self-identified stronger leg, and self-identified leg with better balance. All statistical comparisons were made between the leg indicated on the laterality questionnaire and the other leg (i.e., if the dancer's response to a question was “left,” the comparison was made with the left leg as the “preferred” leg and the right leg as the “non-preferred leg”). No significant differences were identified between the limbs in any of the analyses conducted (all statistical comparisons produced p values > 0.05). The results of this study indicate that a dancer's preferential use of one limb over the other has no bearing on GRFs or balance ability after landing jumps in ballet. Similarly, dancers' opinions of their leg characteristics (such as one leg being stronger than the other) seem not to correlate with the dancers' actual ability to absorb GRFs or to balance when landing from ballet jumps.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA 2: Indiana University, Bloomington, Smith Research Center, 2805 East 10th Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47408, USA. cdochert@indiana.edu

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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