• The effects of rest and subsequent training on selected physiological parameters in professional female classical dancers.

      Koutedakis, Yiannis; Myszkewycz, Lynn; Soulas, D.; Papapostolou, V.; Sullivan, I.; Sharp, N. C. Craig; School of Health Sciences, Wolverhampton University, UK. y.koutedakis@uth.gr (Georg Thieme, 1999)
      The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a six-week summer break and of dance preparations at the beginning of the new season following the break, on selected physiological parameters. Seventeen professional ballerinas (mean age 27.2 +/- 1.4 years, mean height 160.2 +/- 6.2 cm) volunteered. They were assessed just before and immediately after their normal summer break, during which very little or no physical work was reported. Eight of these dancers were assessed for a third time, 2-3 months after the end of the break, while they were into preparing for the new season. More specifically, compared to pre-break data, the six-weeks of holiday was followed by a 15% overall increase in the three flexibility tests (from 334 to 386 degrees, P < 0.01), a 14% increase in peak anaerobic power (from 350 to 400 watts; P < 0.01), a 16% increase in leg strength (from 143 to 166 Nm; P < 0.01) (i.e. the mean performance of left and right knee extension added to the mean performance of left and right knee flexion), and a 10% increase in VO2max (from 41.2 to 45.2 ml/kg/min; P < 0.05). The third set of data, 2-3 months after the end of the break, revealed further significant increases by 24% in leg-strength (P < 0.005) and 17% in VO2max (P < 0.01) compared to pre-holiday data. Despite the lack of a control group, the present results fit with the hypothesis of a degree of "burnout" at the end of the season, which negatively affected the mechanisms of fitness and conditioning. A six-week summer-break can act as a restorer of these mechanisms. Two to three months into the new season, positive adaptations to exercise appeared to confirm recovery from the "burnout" or overtraining phenomenon. More research is required on the effects of demanding dance schedules on fitness and conditioning, and how such schedules might adversely affect dance performance and dancers' careers.