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Am J Sports Med. 2011 Mar;39(3):557-66. doi: 10.1177/0363546510386002. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

Assessment of congruence and impingement of the hip joint in professional ballet dancers: a motion capture study.

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MIRALab, University of Geneva, 7 Route de Drize, Carouge, Switzerland.



Early hip osteoarthritis in dancers could be explained by femoroacetabular impingements. However, there is a lack of validated noninvasive methods and dynamic studies to ascertain impingement during motion. Moreover, it is unknown whether the femoral head and acetabulum are congruent in typical dancing positions.


The practice of some dancing movements could cause a loss of hip joint congruence and recurrent impingements, which could lead to early osteoarthritis.


Descriptive laboratory study.


Eleven pairs of female dancer's hips were motion captured with an optical tracking system while performing 6 different dancing movements. The resulting computed motions were applied to patient-specific hip joint 3-dimensional models based on magnetic resonance images. While visualizing the dancer's hip in motion, the authors detected impingements using computer-assisted techniques. The range of motion and congruence of the hip joint were also quantified in those 6 recorded dancing movements.


The frequency of impingement and subluxation varied with the type of movement. Four dancing movements (développé à la seconde, grand écart facial, grand écart latéral, and grand plié) seem to induce significant stress in the hip joint, according to the observed high frequency of impingement and amount of subluxation. The femoroacetabular translations were high (range, 0.93 to 6.35 mm). For almost all movements, the computed zones of impingement were mainly located in the superior or posterosuperior quadrant of the acetabulum, which was relevant with respect to radiologically diagnosed damaged zones in the labrum. All dancers' hips were morphologically normal.


Impingements and subluxations are frequently observed in typical ballet movements, causing cartilage hypercompression. These movements should be limited in frequency.


The present study indicates that some dancing movements could damage the hip joint, which could lead to early osteoarthritis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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