Lower-limb proprioceptive awareness in professional ballet dancers

Adam W. Kiefer, Michael A. Riley, Kevin Shockley, Candace A. Sitton, Timothy E. Hewett, Sarah Cummins-Sebree, Jacqui G. Haas

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Abstract

Enhanced proprioceptive feedback strengthens synergistic muscle groups and stabilizes the coordination of limbs, thus contributing to the movement efficiency of ballet dancers. The present study compared lower-limb proprioceptive awareness in professional ballet dancers to matched controls who had no dance training. Two assessment methods were used to test the hypothesis that ballet dancers would demonstrate increased proprioceptive awareness in the ankle, knee, and hip: 1. a joint-position matching task to assess static proprioceptive joint awareness, and 2. an eyes-closed, quiet standing task to assess both static and dynamic proprioceptive awareness through measures of center of pressure (COP) variability. Results of the matching task indicated that the dancers exhibited greater proprioceptive awareness than controls for all three joints (p < 0.001). Also, dancers were equally aware of the positioning of their ankle, knee, and hip joints (p > 0.05), whereas controls were less aware of their ankle position compared to their knee and hip joints (p < 0.001). Measures indexing COP variability during quiet standing did not differ between groups and thus failed to reflect increased proprioceptive awareness in dancers (all p > 0.05). This indicates that quiet stance may have limited value as a means for evaluating proprioception. These findings provide preliminary evidence that enhanced proprioceptive awareness of lower limb joints should be considered as an evaluative criterion for dancers' ability to learn complex ballet skills. They also indicate that quiet standing tasks may not provide sufficient challenge for dancers' enhanced proprioceptive awareness to manifest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dance medicine & science : official publication of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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