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J Dance Med Sci. 2012 Mar;16(1):3-7.

Upper-body muscular endurance in female university-level modern dancers: a pilot study.

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Sports Medicine Assessment Research and Testing Laboratory, and the Performing Arts Medicine Program, George Mason University, 223 Bull Run Hall, Manassas, Virgina 20110, USA.


Physical demands vary among dance styles, and injury patterns differ accordingly. Modern dance tends to be high in upper-body demands, and university-level female modern dancers are suggested to be at high risk for upper-body injury. Low muscular endurance is a known injury risk factor. Whether modern dancers have different upper-body muscular endurance than non-dancers is unclear. Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare upper-body endurance in female university-level modern dancers (n = 17) and physically active non-dancers (n = 15), using the modified push-up test. Pearson-correlations examined relationships between anthropometrics and push-ups. Multiple regression analyses were used to determine whether anthropometrics and physical activity could predict push-up scores. One-way ANOVAs compared upper-body endurance (number of push-ups) and physical activity between groups (p < 0.05). Except for height (r = -.37), no variables were related to push-ups. Neither anthropometrics nor physical activity were able to predict push-up scores (p = 0.25). Despite dancers being more active/day (3.6 ± 1.9 vs. 0.9 ± 0.4 hrs/day, p < 0.001), more times per week (5.4 ± 1.2 vs. 4.0 ± 1.8, p = 0.02), and having greater overall physical activity volumes (20.4 ± 11.4 vs. 3.3 ± 2.5 hrs/week, p < 0.001) than non-dancers, both groups had similar upper-body endurance (22.2 ± 8.6 vs. 19.9 ± 8.2, p = 0.44). A probable explanation for this similarity exists in the lack of physical activity beyond dance itself performed by the dancers; our preliminary work suggests that modern dance alone may not produce upper-body muscle endurance gains. Hence, it is suggested that modern dancers should engage in strength and conditioning training programs to enhance upper-body endurance.

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