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Tap dancing and the Osgood-Schlatter syndrome

Following on from a recent Improbable note which highlit research into Lower Extremity Kinetics in Tap Dancers, we can suggest to readers that just about any* kind of occupation or professional activity has the potential to cause discomfort and/or injury of some kind – and tap dancing is no exception. Despite its long history, however, it wasn’t until 2002 that the very first scientific appraisal of injuries amongst tap dancers was performed. A US-based research group surveyed advanced and master-class participants at the New York City Tap Festival. They found that tap dancers can suffer from various sprains (back, hip, thigh, knee &etc) as well as fractures (ankle & wrist) and even Osgood-Schlatter syndrome (a.k.a. apophysitis of the tibial tubercle, or knobby knees). The overall picture was quite reassuring though :

“We have found an apparent lower injury occurrence rate in tap dancers compared to other dance and athletic activity.”

But the team went on to caution that for a fuller picture, additional basic research might be needed.

“Limitations of our study include those implicit in a retrospective survey, difficulties of comparison with other studies, and the necessity for averaging the estimates of dance exposures for our cohort. In addition, we do not know the magnitude of selection bias introduced by the 47% response rate that we experienced. We believe that additional basic research using kinetic and kinematic data is required to explain our findings, and perhaps, to provide insight into injury prevention in other dance and sport activities.”

The research was published as : ‘The Prevalence of Injury Among Tap Dancers’ by Lester Mayers, M.D., Daniel Judelson, B.S., and Shaw Bronner, P.T., Ed.M, in the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, Volume 7, Number 4, 2003, and can be read in full here:

* Note: If you can think of one that doesn’t, please let us know by commenting below.

Further reading : Studies of dance-related injuries in other genres ;

• Flamenco (1998)

• Ballroom (2001)

• Highland (2002)

• Irish (2006)

• Ballet (dancer-lifting by males) (2009)


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