Land Like A Ballet Dancer To Prevent ACL Injuries
Athletes have a great incidence of ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries.
Women have an increased incidence when compared to men, even when accounting for time of play etc.
This may be due to differences in:
- Physical conditioning
- Muscular strength
- Neuromuscular control
- Pelvis and leg alignment
- Increased “looseness” in ligaments
- The effects of oestrogen (a female-specific hormone) on the properties of ligaments.
What you may not know is that professional dancers (men and women) have lower ACL injury level rates when compared to athletes.
What is the ACL?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee.
ACL injury mainly occur with landing, and are non contact. Professional dancers land from magnificent jumps daily, however have a lower ACL injury rate, which poses an interesting question…
Why do professional dancers have lower ACL rates?
NYU Langone’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries (HCDI) performed a study on the biomechanics of jump landing, comparing athletes and dancers to learn more about the incidence of ACL injuries in both groups.
From this study, HCDI has been able to identify that dancers and athletes land very differently.
A professional dancer generally lands with better alignment and keeps the trunk erect, as well as decelerating their landing over a longer amount of time as their toes are pointed.
Professional dancers land through the ball of their feet and decelerate through their landing. Athletes are often taught how to jump high, however not to land. Posture is of vital importance and is the foundation of dance. A dancer must appear graceful in the air and whilst landing and thus the deceleration and control is a large part of this and a key element separating athletes and dancers.
Of course the tasks of athletes and dancers are not directly comparable. Professional dance involves choreographed routines, with less unpredictable interaction or hard cutting movements. Elite team sport athletes have to take contact, change direction in relatively unpredictable and variable environments. However, there is definitely something for athletes to learn from dancers.
What can athletes learn from dancers?
Dance training methods implemented early on generally involves lots of standing on one leg and landing with an emphasis on stability and control, this is payed less attention to in team sport athletes.
An athlete should (as well as young dancers continue to) practice landings, single leg stability and particular control of knee alignment.
Developing a better base for single leg stability and stability during landing would certainly be beneficial for athletes in preventing not only ACL injury, but any foot, ankle, knee, hip or back injury.
Remember that being a dancer does not mean you have lifetime immunity from ACL injuries! If you’re an athlete, or dancer, you must learn how to land correctly to prevent injury.
If you want to learn how to land efficiently and prevent injury, then Book Online with a Physiotherapist at Leading Edge who will take you through the process of learning how to land safely.