The epidemiology of low back pain and injury in dance: A systematic review

Christopher T.V. Swain, Elizabeth J. Bradshaw, Christina L. Ekegren, Douglas G. Whyte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Dance is a physical pursuit that involves loading the spine through repetitive dynamic movements and lifting tasks. As such, low back pain (LBP) and low back injury (LBI) have been identified as common health problems in contemporary and classical ballet dancers. However, clarity regarding the experience of LBP and LBI in dance is lacking. OBJECTIVES: To systematically review and synthesize the epidemiology of LBP and LBI in dance populations. U METHODS: A comprehensive search of 6 electronic databases, back catalogs of dance science-specific journals, and reference lists of relevant articles and a forward citation search were performed. RESULTS: Fifty full-text articles were included in the final systematic review. There was considerable methodological heterogeneity among the included studies. The median (range) point, yearly, and lifetime prevalence of LBP was 27% (17%-39%), 73% (41%-82%), and 50% (17%-88%), respectively. The lower back contributed to 11% (4%-22%) of time loss and 11% (5%-23%) of medical-attention injuries. CONCLUSION: Dancers are vulnerable to LBP and LBI. The use of definitions that are sensitive to the complexity of LBP and LBI would facilitate improved understanding of the problem within dance, inform health care strategies, and allow for monitoring LBP-specific intervention outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-252
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Ballet
  • Contemporary dance
  • Incidence prevalence riskfactors

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