Injury and Disordered Eating Behaviors: What is the Connection for Female Professional Dancers?

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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Dancers, like athletes, frequently endure injuries and disordered eating as a result of performance-specific demands. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between severe injuries and disordered eating from the perspectives of female professional dancers. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 female professional dancers ages 18–38 (M = 23; SD = 6.2) whose dance participation was suspended for 4–36 weeks (M = 12.69; SD = 10.09) due to a dance-related injury. We adopted a social constructivist stance to view the experiences of dancers through the lens of a phenomenon highly influenced by environmental and cultural factors. A thematic analysis yielded five themes including negative emotions associated with injury, anxiety and uncertainty around future involvement, modifications in nutritional intake (e.g., reduction of calories), coping with injury, and the need for an effective and holistic injury rehabilitation program.

Reel is with the College of Health & Human Services, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC. Podlog and Greviskes are with the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. Hamilton is with the IMG Academy, Bradenton, FL. Voelker is with the West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Gray are with the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC.

Address author correspondence to Justine J. Reel at reelj@uncw.edu.
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