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Dancers' Perceptions of Pain and Injury: Positive and Negative Effects

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Two hundred and four dance students, professionals, and former dancers in the UK completed questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and a body scanning and mapping process aimed at gaining an increased understanding of how dancers interpret pain and its relationship to injury in the context of their careers. The research was targeted at modern and contemporary dancers, as they are an underrepresented group in the dance-injury literature. Results from the questionnaires were compared with other studies of dance injury, drawing on qualitative data where relevant. Findings indicated that 90% of the sample had experienced an injury (now or in the past), and that the lower back and knee were among the most common sites of current pain and injury. Qualitative descriptions of pain and injury indicated that dancers tend to define injury as something that stops them from dancing or from moving normally. Dance injury rates do not appear to be decreasing significantly, despite greater awareness and the promotion of the "healthier dancer" in dance training schools, universities and among professionals in the UK. There is evidence to show that as dancers age they are likely to be more aware of the warning signs of injury and to take steps to prevent it. Data indicated that dancers may underreport injuries on surveys, suggesting that such self-reported survey data should be treated with caution. Further qualitative research on dance injuries may provide more useful understanding of dancers' interpretations and treatment of pain and injury.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Director of Research, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, 20 John Princes Street, London W1G OBJ, UK. [email protected] 2: Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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