Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science – Health and Human Performance

School or Department

Health and Human Performance


Health and Human Performance – Exercise Science

Faculty Mentor

Lori Mitchell


hip flexors, lower back pain, dance, iliopsoas, rectus femoris, ballet

Subject Categories

Musculoskeletal System | Physical Therapy


In the world of ballet, flexibility and strength are the keys to success. A leg extended to extraordinary heights is equated with beauty and expertise, whereas a lower height is seen as lesser quality. Dancers are trained from their first ballet lesson to reach their toes to the utmost end of their range of motion, and push themselves beyond the regular restrictions of the human body. Despite the pressure put on dancers to be extremely flexible, tight hip flexor muscles (the rectus femoris and the iliopsoas group) are a common complaint, restricting hip hyperextension (called an arabesque). To compensate for this restriction, dancers tend to rotate the pelvis incorrectly, most commonly leading to lower back pain.

The goal of this research was to measure the correlation between hip flexor extensibility, arabesque height, and lower back pain; specifically, whether a tight iliopsoas group restricts range of motion and correlates with lower back pain in dancers. Through a series of non-invasive measurements, I tested the rectus femoris and iliopsoas group for range of motion and general extensibility. The measurements were as follows: Patrick’s Test, Thomas’s Test, Modified Thomas Test, and prone hip hyperextension. Each subject also completed a pre-screening form to assess degree of lower back pain. I analyzed the outcomes of the measurements to find a possible correlation between hip flexor extensibility, hip hyperextension (arabesque height), and lower back pain.

Honors College Research Project




© Copyright 2016 Tessa Richards