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Open Access The Injuries of Competitive Irish Dancers

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Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the rate and types of injury in competitive dancers of Irish Dance, establish the injury prevention measures used by dancers, and investigate any relationships between prevention measures and incidence of injury. There are no in depth published studies on injury rates or injury prevention strategies for Irish dance.

Methods: One hundred and fifty nine Irish dancers who were participants at the North American Irish Dance Championships (July 2-7, 2004) took part in this descriptive epidemiology study. Each participant completed a self administered questionnaire. The subjects were aged from 15 to 24 years (mean: 17.8; SD: 2.9). The number of years dancing ranged from 1 to 20 years (mean: 10.8; SD: 3.8).

Results: The results showed 79% (n = 125) of dancers had one or more injuries. The ankle (31%, n = 60) and foot (25%, n = 48) were the most frequently injured. Sixty-three percent (n = 121) of the dancers took over 21 days to recover from their injuries. Use of shock absorbent dance shoes significantly reduced the incidence of ankle injury (p < 0.0001). In addition warm up and cool down were associated with a decreased incidence of ankle injury (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001 respectively).

Conclusions: A variety of lower limb and in particular ankle injuries was reported by the competitive Irish dancers in this study. Injury prevention methods for ankle injury such as warm up, cool down, and use of shock absorbing dance shoes were associated with a decreased incidence of injury and warrant further investigation.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Physiotherapy and Performance Science at University College Dublin, Ireland 2: School of Physiotherapy and Performance Science, Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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