Dance Science and Medicine

Dance studentsThe University of Wolverhampton is one of the world’s leading dance science and medicine research establishments.  Our research has been in collaboration with dance companies and researchers from across the world including Canada, the Netherlands, USA, Greece, Australia and Portugal. The focus of the group has been on improving dance performance and decreasing injury rates.

Under the direction of Prof Matthew Wyon and Prof Yiannis Koutedakis, research at Wolverhampton has been at the forefront of dance science and medicine since 2000.  It has a strong culture of post-graduate provision offering an MSc Dance Science and research degrees in dance science and medicine.  The University of Wolverhampton has strong working and research relationships with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Royal National Orthopedic Hospital, HAN University and Trinity Laban as well as other institutions in Europe and the Americas.  The University is one of the founding partners of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science.

Current projects

Bone Mineral Density and dance

The project is looking at site and gender specific variations in bone mineral density within a variety of dance genres including ballet, contemporary and DanceSport (ballroom). It also incorporates other indices such as age, amenorrheic years, injury status and muscle mass. Selected publications relating to this project:

Injury Rates and mechanical properties of dance floors

The project focuses on the mechanical properties of the floor surface used for elite dance performance that has often been suggested to be associated with injury. Surfaces were quantified in accordance with the protocols for force reduction specified in European Sports Surface Standards BSEN 14808. Injuries and associated variables occurring within the ballet company during activity on the surfaces were recorded by the company medical staff. Selected publications relating to this project:

Vitamin D, muscle function and injury incidence in professional dancers

Dancers who train indoors during the winter months exhibit low vitamin D levels in their blood serum due to a lack of sunlight exposure. This has been linked to impaired exercise performance in active individuals. The purpose of this project is to assess the effect of oral Vitamin D3 supplementation on selected physical fitness and injury parameters in elite ballet dancers. Selected publications relating to this project: 

Ranges of movement in dance

The majority of stretching interventional research has focused on the development of a muscle’s passive range of movement (PROM). Active range of movement (AROM) refers to the functional ROM available to the participant and provides a better insight into the relationship between muscular antagonistic pairings. The purpose of this project is to assess the effect of different strengthening or stretching interventions on hip and lower limb active (AROM) and passive (PROM) ranges of movement (paper). Selected pubications relating to this project:

Functionality of dance shoe design

There have been a number of studies reporting the effect of shoe midsole thickness on lower limb kinematics during running. These have suggested that increased midsole thickness reduces the afferent sensory outputs from the foot’s epithelium resulting in reduced plantar flexion at foot strike. The purpose of this project is to examine the influence of varying midsole thicknesses on single leg landing stability within different dance shoes.

Cardiac Screening for dancers

Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) is a type of Cardiac arrhythmias. Sometimes there are no warning signs, but in other cases people can experience dizziness or fainting spells. Sudden loss of consciousness or death often occurs during physical exercise or emotional upset. The frequency of the condition isn't fully known as many sudden deaths are put down to accidents; research has indicated that about 500 deaths a year in the UK are because of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. It is becoming more prevalent in sport and dance due to recent media coverage.

Physiological demands of dance

Dance studentsProfessional classical ballet dancers typically face long working days, and many complain of fatigue, particularly as a possible cause of injury. However, little information exists regarding the true physiological demands on dancers. The aim of the present project is to ascertain the daily workload of professional ballet dancers in terms of work intensity rest periods and sleep quality. Selected publications relating to this project:

Training tomorrow's dancers

In collaboration with ArtEZ, Netherlands we are developing a new training methodology that will reduce injury, promote health and well-being and enhance creativity/artistry within vocational dance training institutions. Selected publications relating to this project:

Postgraduate (research) Study

Many members of the Dance Science and Medicine team actively support students engaging in Postgraduate study – both the MSc Dance Science and through Research degrees. If you are interested in research collaboration or study in dance medicine and science please contact Prof Matthew Wyon (m.wyon@wlv.ac.uk) or 01902 32 3144.  Current postgraduate students are:

  • Frances Clarke is studying static and dynamic balance within dance populations: Despite the fundamental importance of balance in this art form, there is little published research on balance testing and training in the dance population. The PhD will examine the relevance of established static and dynamic balance tests to dance, and examine the effectiveness of balance training on dance performance.
  • Teri Riding is studying the prevalence and mechanisms of neck injuries within DanceSport (ballroom dance). During competitions some female dancers are unable to maintain this position, and the head falls into a paralysis-like condition. The cause of this loss of neck control is unknown at this time. When female dancers lose control of their necks their head flops back into extension and they cannot return her head to an upright position or sustain static posture of the neck.The PhD aims investigate the possible etiology of this loss of control neck injury and help provide dance medical professions know what this injury is before they can come up with a way to treat it.
  • Janine Bryant focuses on spinal range of motion in aging dancers. The extreme aesthetic standard set by the professional dance world has required performers to understand and be familiar with multiple techniques and acrobatic moves. These requirements have personal costs for performers, who are taxing their bodies to the limit, as a result, the aging dancer suffers ‘battle wounds’ unique to the profession that affects them during later life. The project will look at how possible therapeutic interventions can alleviate these limitations and symptoms.
  • Donna Krasnow's PhD is focused on the grande battement and how the movement varies depending on where it occurs - at the barre, in centre or travelling. The goal of the research project is to compare the motor control strategies of dancers executing a specific dance movement under the three conditions common to traditional dance classes. The project will combined EMG and kinematic analysis to identify how moving through space (locomotion) requires alternate strategies to stationary balance requirements, and to identify differences in motor control strategies between novice and elite dancers.
  • Nick Allen is studying the epidemiology of dance injuries within a professional ballet company. The initial stage of the project was to determin the extent of the injury proble”, which is achieved through epidemiological study. This was followed by an intervention study based on van Mechelen's injury prevention model with the purpose to reduce the incidence of injury to a cohort of professional, elite level ballet dancers. 
  • Christine Bergeron is studying the effectiveness of Pilates and abdominal endurance and their overall impact on dance training. Pilates and dance share similar principles such as alignment, control, concentration, flow of movement, precision and breathing. Due to these similarities, it is a common training program used by dancers and can be found in many academic programs and dance studios throughout the world. Many dance educators see the effects of Pilates training and its significant impact on a dancer’s alignment, flexibility, muscular strength and balance. Although some research has been done to substantiate this observation still more research is needed in regards to the many different aspects and equipment Pilates has to offer.

Recent Gradautes

Donna Krasnow

Donna's PhD was focused on the grande battement and how the movement varies depending on where it occurs - at the barre, in centre or travelling. The research project compared the motor control strategies of dancers executing a specific dance movement under the three conditions common to traditional dance classes. The project combined EMG and kinematic analysis identifying how moving through space (locomotion) requires alternate strategies to stationary balance requirements, and to identify differences in motor control strategies between novice and elite dancers. Selected publications:

  • Krasnow, D., Ambegaonkar, J. P., Stecyk, S., Wilmerding, M. V., Wyon, M., & Koutedakis, Y. (2011). Development of a portable anchored dynamometer for collection of maximal voluntary isometric contractions in biomechanics research on dancers. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 26(4), pp. 185-194
  • Krasnow, D., Wilmerding, M. V., Stecyk, S., Wyon, M., & Koutedakis, Y. (2011). Biomechanical research in dance: A literature review. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 26(1), pp. 3-23
  • Krasnow, D., Wilmerding, M. V., Stecyk, S., Wyon, M., & Koutedakis Y. (2012). Examination of weight transfer strategies during the execution of grand battement devant at the barre, in the centre, and traveling. Medical Problems of Performing Artists 27(2) p74-84
  • Krasnow, D., Ambegaonkar, J. P., Wilmerding, M. V., Stecyk, S., Koutedakis, Y., Wyon, M. (2012). Electromyographic Comparison of Grand Battement Devant at the Barre, in the Centre, and Traveling. Medical Problems of Performing Artists 27(3) p 143-155

Nick Allen

Nick studied the epidemiology of dance injuries within a professional ballet company. The initial stage of the project was to determine the extent of the injury problem achieved through epidemiological study. This was followed by an intervention study based on van Mechelen's injury prevention model with the purpose to reduce the incidence of injury to a cohort of professional, elite level ballet dancers.  Selected publications:

  • Allen, N; Nevill, A; Brooks, J; Koutedakis, Y; Wyon, M (2012) Ballet Injuries: Injury incidence and severity over one year. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, vol 42(9): p. 781-790 doi:10.2519/jospt.2012.3893
  • Allen, N; Nevill, A; Brooks, J; Koutedakis, Y; Wyon, M (2013) The effect of a comprehensive injury audit program on injury incidence in ballet: a 3-year prospective study Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 04/2013; doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e3182887f32
  • Allen, N. and M. Wyon (2008). "Dance Medicine: Athlete or Artist." SportEx Medicine 35: 6-9.

Jeff Russell

Jeff studied the anatomy and motion of the ankle in female ballet dancers through X-ray and moving MRI. He looked at the changes in range of movement due to prolonged pointe work and the potential anatomical and injury implications. He also assessed the different methods of measuring ROM from a clinical perspective.  Selected publications:

  • Russell, JA; McEwan, IM; Koutedakis, Y; Wyon, MA (2008) Clinical anatomy and biomechanics of the ankle in dance. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science Vol 12 (3) p75-82
  • Russell JA, Nevill AM, McEwan IM, Koutedakis Y, Wyon MA (2009) Goniometry of the ankle for the extreme motions required in ballet. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Vol 39 (10) a17
  • Russell, J., Kruse, D., Nevill, A., Koutedakis, Y., Wyon, M. (2010) Measurement of the extreme ankle range of motion required by female ballet dancers Foot and Ankle Specialist Vol 3(6): p. 324-330
  • Russell, J., Shave, R., Yoshioka, H., Kruse, D., Koutedakis, Y., Wyon, M. (2010). Magnetic resonance imaging of the ankle in female ballet dancers en pointe. Acta Radiologica 51(6): 655-661
  • Russell, JA., Kruse, D., Koutedakis, Y., McEwan, I., Wyon, M (2010). Pathoanatomy of posterior ankle impingement in ballet dancers. Clinical Anatomy 23(6): 613-21
  • Russell, J., Shave, R., Kruse, D., Nevill, A., Koutedakis, Y., Wyon, M. (2011). Is goniometry suitable for measuring ankle range of motion in female ballet dancers? An initial comparison with radiographic measurement. Foot and Ankle Specialist 4(3): 151-6
  • Russell, J., Shave, R., Kruse, D., Koutedakis, Y., Wyon, M. (2011). "Ankle and foot contributions to extreme plantar- and dorsiflexion in female ballet dancers." Foot and Ankle International 32(2): 183-8
  • Russell, J., Kruse, D; Koutedakis, Y., Wyon, M. (2012). "Pathoanatomy of anterior ankle impingement in dancers." Journal of Dance Medicine and Science. Vol 12(3) 101-108

Contact

For further information on the work of this group, or to discuss opportunities for collaboration and/or consultancy relating to our areas of expertise, please contact Prof Matthew Wyon.

Recent Publications

Group Members

Professor Matthew Wyon
Professor in Dance Science
Course Leader for MSc Dance Science
Email: M.Wyon@wlv.ac.uk

Professor Yiannis Koutedakis
Professor in Applied Physiology
Email: Y.Koutedakis@wlv.ac.uk

Professor Alan Nevill
Professor in Research
Email: A.M.Nevill@wlv.ac.uk

Frances Clarke
Course Leader BA (Hons) Dance; Course Leader BA(Hons) Dance and Drama
Email: Frances.Clarke@wlv.ac.uk