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Break-Dancing Will NOT Kill You

Dude (me) is definitely gonna break his wrist...

Checkout this article (prepare yourself, its journalism at its best, might blow your mind): http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/archive/Break-Dancing-Will-Kill-You.html

(Note: It -might- be satire… but even if it is, it’s not good media coverage for b-boys, so I will still pick it apart ‘scientifically’ here)

Okay, now wait a minute.  As sensationally written as this article may be, she did reference an ACTUAL study (in a horribly indirect way, making it hard to check her source).  It was hard to find, and Sara Smith probably didn’t read the article herself. But I did. Here is the summary from the publishers site: http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/37/4/797.abstract

In the articles defense, they did do a survey of bboys, and found some interesting results.  I’ll discuss this article in the future, because it does have value.  For example, what kind of injuries can you expect in your dance career?  What can we do to prevent them? That’s exactly my mission.  And really, none of these results are surprising.  – wrists… the Achilles Heel of B-Boys and B-Girls…
Read: “What should B-Boys do about wrist pain?”

However… let me ask you this, Sara Smith… if that’s even your real name…  can you name any sports that do not have injuries?  Well… I can’t!

Injuries are REALITY

In one study 1, researchers surveyed 15,000 university students, roughly half of them varsity athletes, the other not, then asked about chronic injuries down the road.  50% of former athletes had injuries, but only 10% of the non-athletes, and 52% of the athletes had chronic injuries, but only 11% of the non-athletes did.  21% of former athletes also reported some sort of limitation in daily life, but only 4% of the non-athletes.  Clearly there is a high price to pay in being an elite athlete.

See: How Injuries Happen.

That’s the reality of it.  Injuries happen in every sport, why should breaking be any different?

Incidence of injury

Okay Okay… maybe that’s not the point… maybe break-dancing has MORE injuries than other sports.

Well… lets look at the numbers, shall we?

A researcher named Brian Hamill did a review on sports injuries in 1994 2, and here are his numbers:

Sports Injuries (per 100 hours)
Soccer 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
UK Basketball 1.03
South African Rugby 0.70
USA Track-and-Field 0.57
UK Cross-country 0.37
UK Track-and-Field 0.26
Physical Education 0.18
USA Football 0.10
Squash 0.10
UK Tennis 0.07
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Basketball 0.03
Weight Training 0.0012 [1 injury per 85,733 hours]
USA Powerlifting 0.0008 [1 injury per 121,208 hours]
Weightlifting [=Olympic style] 0.0006 [1 injury per 165,551 hours]
USA Volleyball 0.0004
USA Tennis 0.0003
USA Cross-country 0.00

Source: Brian P. Hamill, “Relative Safety of Weightlifting and Weight Training,” Journal of Strength Conditioning Research, Vol. 8, No. 1(1994): 53-57

So, according to the new Break-Dance injury study, how many injuries do bboys and bgirls get per 100 hours?  Let’s do some math.  I like math.

They say “there were 1665 injuries and 206 overuse syndromes found in 380588 hours of training”.

So lets add the injuries and overuse syndromes together: 1665 + 206 = 1871
Now, divide that by the hours of training: 1871 / 380588 = 0.0049
And, times 100 to get our per 100 hours rate: 0.0049 * 100 = 0.49

So, breaking has an injury rate of 0.49 per 100 hours of training.

That puts us somewhere between track and field, and cross country running.

That’s right… you can get almost as many injuries going for a long run as you can practicing spinning on your head.  Yup.

Lets also keep in mind that breaking is very young, and we have not even begun to learn about how it affects our body, and in turn, how we can prevent injuries, or make protective gear to help us.  We already have spin caps and bboys wearing padding and braces at practice. These injury numbers may go down.

Thanks German researchers!!! You assured us that we will actually NOT break our necks by breaking!  You showed us our sport is relatively safe (at least no worse than anything else)! Guten Tag!

That’s my conclusion, Sara Smith…  because I actually read the study, and then did more research for comparison.  Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s how doing research really works.  I don’t really care if that sounded pretentious.  It’s more an expression of my frustration at journalists like her.

So, breaking isn’t so bad after all

But when you look at it, it appears so dynamic and dangerous!


My opinion (and my opinion is a damn good one, so listen up)…

First of all, a lot of moves have the illusion of looking dangerous.  There are tricks to them.  That’s why they are called tricks.

Next, bboys practice A LOT, in a way so they make little mistakes, because the worse thing in the world in a battle is crashing.  B-boys value control.  Finesse.  It has to look good.  Not sloppy.  In fact, the opposite of sloppy is the preferred method.

But I’ve seen sports where people throw themselves at the ground uncontrollably going for a ball… and football tackles and hockey body cheks??? O   M  G… don’t even get me started.  See the soccer injury incidence above?  How about this video.  And all they do is run around and kick balls!!!  And you think breaking is dangerous?!  You want dangerous? Look at the USA obesity statistics.  That’s dangerous.

B-Boys take care of themselves.  They don’t get their hands held through school and college, or million dollar contracts when they ‘make it’.  They have to keep themselves healthy and injury free to survive as dancers.

Hopefully dancers will be better off financially some day, and we will have some guidelines and safety information… but for now, we gotta keep on pushing like Bun B.


Hope you enjoyed this article dancers…



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    8 Responses to Break-Dancing Will NOT Kill You

    1. Bertrand Lirette says:

      Thanks for that great article! It’s nice to finally have a proper answer to such a badly written article. Can we just forget about that poor girl now? Leave her in her misery.

      Keep em coming, thanks!

      BBoy Twister

      • Tony Ingram says:

        Haha thanks for the comment! Yes let’s forget about her.

        But this article will always exist as an example for a defense to all negative press about breaking!


    2. Yu says:

      extrordinary !

    3. Jules says:

      I keep coming back to read your articles because they’re informative, intelligent, and put forward in a classy way.

      and that’s the way bboys should be perceived because we aren’t “brain dead” as she said but rather we are powerful and intelligent, many of doing this because we love it. So professional writer or waltzer she may be, many of us are professionals in our own fields and also bboys among many other talents.

      kudos to u Tony for being the well informed, intelligent brother that you are, who uses your statistical knowledge and education to disprove a rude and degrading article. i have alot of respect for your contributions to everyone by having this blog and always trying to teach and educate, you are an inspiration to all bboys everywhere.

    4. […] a 1994 sports injuries study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Ingram calculated on his blog that break dancing had an injury rate of   0.49 per 100 hours of training placing its injury rate […]

    5. nikki says:

      wow im 12 and i brake dance and good

    6. […] a 1994 sports injuries study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Ingram calculated on his blog that break dancing had an injury rate of   0.49 per 100 hours of training placing its injury rate […]

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