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The objective of this study was to review the evidence for selected risk factors of lower extremity overuse injuries in young elite female ballet dancers. An electronic search of key databases from 1969 to July 2013 was conducted using the keywords dancers, ballet dancers, athletes, adolescent, adolescence, young, injury, injuries, risk, overuse, lower limb, lower extremity, lower extremities, growth, maturation, menarche, alignment, and biomechanics. Thirteen published studies were retained for review. Results indicated that there is a high incidence of lower extremity overuse injuries in the target population. Primary risk factors identified included maturation, growth, and poor lower extremity alignment. Strong evidence from well-designed studies indicates that young elite female ballet dancers suffer from delayed onset of growth, maturation, menarche, and menstrual irregularities. However, there is little evidence that this deficit increases the risk of overuse injury, with the exception of stress fractures. Similarly, there is minimal evidence linking poor lower extremity alignment to increased risk of overuse injury. It is concluded that further prospective, longitudinal studies are required to clarify the relationship between growth, maturation, menarche, and lower extremity alignment, and the risk of lower extremity overuse injury in young elite female ballet dancers.


School of Exercise Science

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Journal Article

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