Comparison of neuromuscular control strategies between collegiate female dancers and athletes

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michele Lynett Pye (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Sandra J. Shultz

Abstract: High risk neuromuscular control strategies during landing and cutting maneuvers are thought to be a major contributing factor to the 6 times greater risk of ACL injury in female athletes compared to male athletes. However, female dancers who have similar fitness capabilities and perform many of the same cutting and landing tasks as female athletes are less likely to display high risk neuromuscular strategies, have similar neuromuscular control strategies as male dancers, and are 3- 5 times less likely to suffer an ACL injury compared to female athletes. While multiple theories have been proposed to explain this protection in female dancers, preliminary research suggests female dancers may adopt a more protective neuromuscular control strategies as a result of their training practices. Therefore, the primary objective of this study was to comprehensively compare neuromuscular control strategies in collegiate female dancers and collegiate female field athletes to determine if female dancers demonstrate more protective neuromuscular control patterns during functional tasks as characterized by 1) decreased vertical ground reaction forces (vGRF), 2) quicker stabilization of the anterior-posterior and medial-lateral ground reaction force, 3) smaller distance between center of mass (COM) and location of center of pressure (COP), 4) decreased knee valgus, 5) increased ankle plantar flexion, 6) decreased knee extensor moment, and 7) quicker muscular activation. Forty collegiate females, 20 dancers (age= 20.4 ± 1.9 yrs, height= 164.8 ± 6.1 cm, weight= 63.5 ± 8.8kg, experience= 14.3 ± 3.9 yrs) and 20 athletes (age= 19.4± .9 yrs, height= 169.3 ± 7.1 cm, weight= 69.8 ± 13.0 kg, experience= 12.2 ± 2.9 yrs) matched on year of experience were measured for postural control during a dynamic forward hop stabilization task; hip, knee and ankle joint neuromechanics during a planned double leg drop landing; and reflex response characteristics during an unplanned lower extremity perturbation. Results revealed no significant differences between female athletes and dancers on muscle reflex time following a functional perturbation or in their time to stabilization during the dynamic balance test. During the drop jump landing, dancers versus athletes landed with lower vGRF [F (3, 33) = 3.44, p = .03, ES = .24], position their COM more anteriorly [F (1,38) = 4.8, p=.03], moved through a greater sagittal plane ROM [F (3, 36) = 4.6, p=.008] primarily driven by greater ankle joint excursion, and move through equal frontal plane motion at the hip and knee [F (2, 37) = 1.6 p=.23, Partial Eta Squared ( )=.08]. The greater sagittal plane excursions values were largely a product of a more extended posture at ground contact and did not result in larger peak values. These findings suggest that dancers and athletes may have similar abilities to respond to postural perturbations, but that female dancers may demonstrate some elements of more protective neuromuscular control strategies during planned movements as a result of their training practices. Investigation of dance training may assist in the development of more protective strategies in dancers and inform our future prevention efforts in female athletics.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
ACL Injury, Athlete, Dancer, Landing Mechanics, Neuromuscular Control Pattern
Anterior cruciate ligament $x Wounds and injuries $x Prevention
Sports injuries $x Prevention
Dancing injuries $x Prevention
Women track and field athletes $x Health and hygiene
Women dancers $x Health and hygiene

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