It’s been a while since I first picked apart that terribly sensationalized article that made b-boying (break-dancing) look dangerous. Didn’t read it yet? Check it out: Break-Dancing Will NOT Kill You.
The bottom line: b-boying is no more dangerous than any other sport – in fact, it has lower injury rates than many popular mainstream sports.
Never-the-less, b-boys and b-girls get injured. It happens.
One of the good things to come out of the previously mentioned news article is that it brought the research to our attention. That’s actually good news! There really has been a research study done on injuries in breaking. Now we have some data. Sweet.
Let’s go over one part of the research study: common b-boy injuries. What are they? How common? Knowing this stuff might help us prevent them (and I’ll know which injuries I should write about first)!
The Research Study:
In this study (1), five doctors from Germany went to Battle of the Year World Finals. The study was published in 2009 so I am guessing it was the 2008 battle. There, they surveyed 40 ‘professional’ (those in the competition) and 104 ‘amateur’ (those attending the event) B-Boys and B-Girls. They asked them a bunch of questions about practice habits, injuries and what kind, how much time they took off for recovery, etc. They collected lot’s of detail and I’ll write more articles about it soon.
This time, let’s look at what types of injuries are common in B-Boys and B-Girls.
Common B-Boy / B-Girl Injuries:
Organized by injured body part (not specific type of injury). Listed in order of highest to lowest percentage of injuries for both (i.e. out of all the professional b-boy injuries tallied from the survey, 18.8% involved the knee).
|Spine (17.4%)||Knee (18.8%)|
|Knee (15.8%)||Spine (16.1%)|
|Shoulder (14.7%)||Skin (14.0%)|
|Skin (13.6%)||Wrist/Hand (12.4%)|
|‘Ankle/Foot (10.3%)||Shoulder (11.6%)|
|Wrist/Hand (9.6%)||Ankle/Foot (10.6%)|
|Hip/Thigh (9.0%)||Hip/Thigh (10.1%)|
|Elbow (6.0%)||Elbow (5.0%)|
|Thorax (2.9%)||Head (0.9%)|
|Head (0.7%)||Thorax (0.5%)|
The researchers weren’t clear, but I’m guessing ‘spine’ probably includes the neck, upper and lower back, and ‘thorax’ probably means chest, ribs, and stomach.
Note: the biggest differences between the amateurs (those attending the event) and professionals (those in the competition) were that professionals typically practiced more hours a week (averaging 11.2 vs 7.4) and had been practicing longer (averaging 7.2 years vs. 5.8). Once again, practice is the key factor making you better! See: Practice 102.
If ‘spine’ includes neck injury/pain, then that’s not really a surprise. Let’s face it guys, what we are doing isn’t natural! I’ll write about neck injury prevention and treatment very soon.
The high rate of knee injury isn’t that much of a surprise either. Articles coming up soon!
‘Skin’ injuries must be scrapes, cuts, burns and bruises. Apparently common. No surprises there either! In fact, I bet this was under-reported by the B-Boys surveyed, because people usually don’t make a big deal out of these injuries.
What kind of surprised me is how low wrists were on both lists. Personally, I hear way more complaints and questions about the wrists than any other body part. However, it’s probably because B-Boy’s just get way more frustrated with wrist injuries than any others. You can still toprock (which is still great), but having to stay off your hands knocks out footwork, freezes, powermoves, tricks… a lot of things B-Boys love to do.
It’s all good!
However you look at this list, don’t forget that – overall – this study demonstrated that B-Boys / B-Girls get about the same amount of injuries as other mainstream sports, and even less than some of the most popular. See: Injury Rates of Sports / Activities.
I seriously think the ‘pros’ of dancing far outweigh the ‘cons’. I’ve had a few injuries myself, and the hours of exercise I have gotten, not to mention the mental and social benefits, have been more than worth it. All activities have injuries. Joie de vivre.
Important note on this kind of research:
Research doesn’t always involve labs and test-tubes. This was an ‘epidemiological’ study.
Epidemiology wha? involves observing a specific population (this time dancers), usually through surveys, and looking at what things might be related to health. For example – a common one you might see in the news is – “some nutrient is related to lower risk of heart disease“.
Now, it’s important to note that while we can see some relationships with this kind of research, we usually cannot make a conclusion of cause = effect. Remember: correlation does not mean causation.
Using the same nutrition example, perhaps people who eat that specific nutrient have lower risk of heart disease because they eat better overall, or they exercise more, or they have better jobs, more money for health care, etc. etc. etc. and not because of that specific nutrient at all.
Therefore, this research doesn’t mean that if you keep dancing you are guaranteed to get a neck or knee injury. It’s all a matter of bad luck, usually.
Still, this research is a good start to answering very important questions related to health.
But be careful what you read in news articles!!!
Now we know what kind of injuries B-Boy’s usually get.
Check out the injuries section of the site. If it’s not there already, it’s coming soon.
For now, read all the injury prevention articles.
1. Kauther MD, Wedemeyer C, Wegner A, Kauther KM, von Knoch M. Breakdance injuries and overuse syndromes in amateurs and professionals. Am J Sports Med. 2009 Apr;37(4):797-802. Epub 2009 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 19204362.