(Golden Oldie) Calf Endurance and Achilles Tendon Structure in Classical Ballet Dancers

Review written by Matthew Wirdnam info

Key Points

  1. Dancers demonstrated significantly greater maximum heel-rise height when compared to non-dancers in the study.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Plantar flexor function is important for classical ballet dancers and sportspeople alike as it provides a base for propulsion and has the ability to attenuate 60% of the landing force applied to the lower limb (1). The role of the Achilles tendon in everyday life is to act like a spring, storing and releasing load e.g., hopping and running.

In classical ballet, the role of the Achilles is two-fold, the tendon must be able to act like a spring, while also being robust enough to tolerate repeated dorsi-flexion e.g., plié; a compressive and a friction load for the tendon. This combination of load presents a challenge to the tendon and may pre-dispose classical ballet dancer’s to developing Achilles tendinopathy – which presents as pain and dysfunction of the Achilles tendon (2).

The aim of this study was to describe the Achilles tendon structure and plantar flexor function of classical ballet dancers compared to non-dancers using established, clinical Achilles tendon examination methods.

The role of the Achilles tendon in everyday life is to act like a spring, storing and releasing load e.g., hopping and running.
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It’s important to consider who the patient sitting in front of you is and what the demands of their performance, sport or life might be.

METHODS

10 dancers (pre-professional level or above) attending ballet classes more than 3 days per week and 10 non-dancers (16 - 35 years) without current Achilles tendon (AT) problems were included in this study.

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