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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I live in a small town where I am both the high school basketball coach and the sponsor for the modern dance club. I notice the girls on the basketball team seem far more prone to knee injuries (especially ACL tears). The dancers rarely have ACL injuries and their movements are far more complex than the players. What's the take home message here?

Studies show that athletes involved in noncontact jumping sports have the highest rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. The main mechanism of injury is called plant-and-cut maneuvers. There is too much load on the knee with the foot planted on the ground while the player changes direction quickly. Dancers do have far fewer ACL injuries compared to athletes involved in jumping activities. The difference may be because dancers perform many more jumps in a daily 90-minute technique class compared to a 90-work-out on the basketball court. The rigorous dance training may be enough to prevent ACL injuries. This is true even though load on the knee during jump landings in dance can put up to 12 times the dancer's body weight in force on the knee joint. Dance training focuses on balance, alignment, footwork, and control. All of these skills may improve balance to a precise level needed to land single-leg jumps without injury. Unlike athletes who don't know what will happen next on the court, dancers practice the same steps in a routine. There are no surprise or unexpected movements to respond to. Basketball players collide with each other often. Contact with another dancer is rarely the cause of an ACL injury. Practice, timing, alignment, balance, and posture may be the key factors. A focus on these variables during basketball practice may help reduce injuries in athletes involved in jumping activities.


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