Circus Artists' Injuries Comparable To Elite Athletes
A five-year study of injuries among Cirque Du Soleil performers showed the same patterns of injuries often found among elite athletes in competitive sports. The study, released today at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), is the first step in developing an injury prevention program to document the frequency and types of injuries that occur among artists in performance companies like Cirque du Soleil.
Cirque du Soleil shows, well-known for their stylish blending of circus and theater, feature artists who perform activities similar to highly competitive sports and activities like gymnastics, diving, and dance. This study monitored the artists' frequency of injuries according to anatomical location and type.
Researchers accessed the Cirque du Soleil injury database, noting a total of 18,000 injuries from 2002 to 2006. Lower extremity injuries of the knee and ankle were most common. The shoulder represented half of all injuries to the upper extremity. Most injuries were to muscles and tendons (approximately 45 percent). Fractures and head injuries, including concussions, were very rare (less than 5 percent together). Overall, there was no difference in the anatomical location or types of injuries suffered by males and females, and the pattern of injuries has remained consistent from year to year.
"The common types of injuries you see in trained elite athletes are not unlike what the Cirque du Soleil artists are experiencing when they get injured. There are acute injuries such as sprains and strains, and overuse injuries such as tendonopathies," said Ian Shrier M.D., Ph.D., FACSM. "After they rehab, just like other athletes, they have the opportunity to return-to-performance. It takes high caliber conditioning and discipline to be a Cirque performer, just as it does be an elite athlete in any sport."
According to Cirque du Soleil, they plan to use the injury surveillance data to establish potential injury trends, develop and implement strategies in order to minimize injury rates and ultimately further protect the artist's physical integrity and optimize their performance longevity.