Hip Instability in Ballet Dancers a Narrative Review

Angelina M. Vera, Shane J. Nho, Richard C. Mather, Thomas H. Wuerz, Joshua D. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Dancers possess a large degree of hip range of motion that results from a combination of innate and acquired osseous morphology and permissive soft tissues. Generalized hypermobil-ity in dancers may predispose them to a spectrum of hip instability. The objective of this narrative review is to discuss the anatomical characteristics, pathogenesis, risk factors, clinical signs and symptoms, management, and outcomes of hip instability treatments in dancers. Methods: A retrospective search was performed beginning November 1, 2017, for English language articles regarding hip stability in the dancer. Key words used included but were not limited to: dance(r), ballet, hip, hypermobility, range of motion, instability, microinstability, and laxity. PubMed, Scopus, and MEDLINE databases were used. Results: Forty-three studies were analyzed. Groin pain was found to be the most common presenting symptom of hip instability. A variety of impingement and instability signs may be elicited during physical examination. Hypermobility is frequently observed and is thought to be a necessity for participation in elite levels of ballet. Radiographs and advanced planar imaging (magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography) should be scrutinized to evaluate for dysplasia, cam, pincer, subspine, and rotational morphologies. Dysplasia (low volume acetabulum), cam morphology, femoral retroversion, and coxa valga are common findings in the ballet dancers’ hip. Labral injuries and ligamentum teres tears are common and may potentiate instability in the hip. Management options include education, oral non-opioid medications, activity modification, exercise prescription, and surgery. Reported outcomes of these treatments in ballet are limited. Conclusion: Hip hypermobility is prevalent in the ballet population and is a clear advantage. However, it may increase the risk of instability. It is important to identify the multifactorial osseous and soft tissue etiology of hip or groin pain in dancers. Practitioners should have a high level of suspicion for hip instability in the dancer presenting with hip pain and treat accordingly. There is a significant need for increased quantity and quality of investigation into the outcomes of treatment for hip instability in the dancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-190
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of dance medicine & science : official publication of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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