Breakdancing is a high-risk activity: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Breakdancers suffer a relatively high rate of injury and many fail to give themselves time to heal, a new study suggests.

A model performs during DSquared2 Spring/Summer 2009 men's collection during Milan Fashion Week June 24, 2008. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

In interviews with 144 professional and amateur breakdancers, German researchers found that injuries to the spine, knee, wrist, shoulder and ankle were common, especially among professionals.

Not one of the professional breakers had an injury-free history, while only 4 percent of the amateurs did, the researchers report in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Wrist and hand fractures, thighbone fractures, slipped spinal discs and concussions were among the acute injuries study participants reported.

In addition, 70 percent said they’d suffered an overuse injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon.

But while injuries were common, many breakers did not give themselves the needed healing time for they returned to dancing. In general, they took a “surprisingly short” break from training, the researchers found -- less than six days, on average.

It may not be surprising that a sport that includes head spins and one-arm handstands carries a high injury risk. However, until now there had been no comprehensive studies of breakdance injuries.

The bottom line for breakers is that they should be aware of the potential dangers, lead researcher Dr. Max Daniel Kauther, of the University of Duisburg-Essen, told Reuters Health.

With greater awareness, he noted, safer training methods may be developed, and more breakers may take to wearing protective gear like helmets, wrist guards and wraps for the knees and elbows.

In their study, Kauther and his colleagues found no evidence that breakers who wore protective gear had a lower injury risk. However, Kauther said they think that breakdancers do not usually wear the gear, with most only doing so after they have had an injury.

“We take the view that a preventive wearing of the existing protective gear can reduce many injuries,” he said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Sports Medicine, April 2009.