Range of joint movement in female dancers and nondancers aged 8 to 16 years: Anatomical and clinical implications

Nili Steinberg, Israel Hershkovitz, Smadar Peleg, Gali Dar, Youssef Masharawi, Michael Heim, Itzhak Siev-Ner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Little data are available on changes that occur with age in joint range of motion in dancers and nondancers. Hypothesis: In dancers, joint range of motion will increase with age, whereas it will decrease in nondancers, independent of the joint studied. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: The study population included 1320 female dancers, aged 8 to 16 years, who participated in different types of dancing classes (classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, etc) and 226 nondancers of similar age. Range of motion was measured for the hip, knee, ankle, foot, and spinal joints. Results: The pattern of differences in range of motion with age varied in different joints and types of movement. (1) For combined ankle and foot plantar flexion (pointe), ankle plantar flexion, and hip external rotation, there was no change in range of motion in dancers, whereas range of motion diminished with age in the nondancers. (2) For ankle dorsiflexion, neither group showed any change with age, and range of motion was significantly greater in the nondancer group. (3) For knee flexion, hip flexion, and hip internal rotation, range of motion decreased with age in both groups. (4) For hip abduction, range of motion decreased with age in dancers and remained constant in the nondancers. (5) For hip extension, range of motion increased in both groups. (6) For lower back and hamstrings, range of motion increased among dancers with age and remained constant among nondancers. Conclusion: Dancers and teachers should realize that passive joint range of motion is unlikely to improve with age. Therefore, the major goal of a dancing program should focus on exercises that retain the natural flexibility of the dancers' joints rather than trying to improve them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-823
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Dancers
  • Joints
  • Range of motion (ROM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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