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Muscular Strength: Applications for Dancers [review]

Yiannis Koutedakis, Frances Clarke, Matt Wyon, Danielle Aways, Emmanuel O. Owolabi
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 24 Number 4: Page 157 (December 2009)

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Abstract: Muscle fibers can generally be divided into slow and fast twitch according to their contraction speed. Even though an individual normally has the same ratio of slow/fast muscle fibers throughout his or her body, the lower-limb muscles are predominantly designed to provide the maximum dynamic output in rapid movements (e.g., jumping). The limited data on dancers' muscle profiles have shown that (ballet) dancers have predominately slow fibers. Muscular strength, together with aerobic and anaerobic capacity, joint mobility and muscle flexibility, and body composition form the continuum of physical fitness. Strength is defined as the maximum force that a muscle group can generate at a specified velocity; its levels can be affected by several factors, which include age, gender, type of muscle fiber, nutrition, and body temperature. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that different strength training regimens should be employed for the different styles of dance. However, reduced muscular strength has been associated with greater severity of injury in dancers. Poor aerobic capabilities, high ectomorphy ratings with low percent body fat values, and the biomechanics of different dance techniques have also been identified as underlying sources of injury in dancers. The most common location for injury in ballet dancers is the foot and the ankle, while in contemporary dancers it is the low back and knee. Little information is available with respect to other dance styles.

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