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Identifying and strengthening your rotator muscles


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#1 Redbookish

Redbookish

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 02:47 AM

As this topic comes up in a number of threads in this forum, I thought I'd extract it from a recent thread and post it as a Sticky for us all. I've closed the topic, so if you have further questions, please feel free to start a new thread, and you can link back to this one by clicking on the post number at the top right hand corner of the post.

And thank you to Clara for her clear and patient virtual tutoring. One day I hope we can have BT4D Adult students ballet class -- in the physical rather than the virtual world all our BT4D Teacher Mods!

Here's Clara's post. It is originally in this thread (the whole thread is also really useful!)

http://dancers.invis...ndpost&p=483430
"Pelvic alignment and its effects"

Post #14

Ok so now it's time for rotator strengthening!!! Now that you've learned lift-off your lower body has the freedom to work correctly. Your hamstrings, glutes, and inner thighs need to be reminded of their jobs in all of this.

To identify inner thighs:
1. Major Chords- This one needs a partner.
Dancer sits on the floor facing partner. Partner stands in front of her with legs apart, roughly in a wide seconde. Partner does not need to be turned out. Partner offers dancer her hands.
Dancer places the inside of the lowest part of her calves on the outside of partner's lower legs, with her legs as rotated as she can manage, ankles and feet flexed. Dancer holds partners hands, and stretches the upper part of her body straight and engages abs. dancer is in a V on it's side shape.

Now, dancer squeezes in on partners legs with the insides of her thighs thinking of her goal being to close partner's legs. Partner fights this remaining in seconde. Dancer must focus on only using inner thighs. Quads will engage to the degree they must, but inner thighs should do the work. Hold position until inner thighs begin to shake. Release, and try again.

Now, dancer stands up and using no muscles, rotates one leg to first, then the other leg to first. Engage inner thighs. Hold position concentrating on inner thighs. Quads will engage to the degree that they must, but focus is on inner thighs. Try in all 5 foot/leg positions.

This one is called major chords because the inner thighs are kind of like strings and they are majorly responsible for turnout! Also, once dancers find them, it hurts so they "sing" ouch in a major chord....

2. Inner thigh boot camp-
Dancer lies down on right side, body in straight line, head resting on outstretched right arm, left hand opposite chest, plam on the floor for balance.
Dancer takes left leg and places left foot flat on the floor in front of right thigh avoiding right knee. Foot should be touching right thigh.

Dancer turns out right leg, flexes right foot, keeps leg straight with energy going out heel, and lifts right leg a tiny bit off floor. Dancer should be thinking of directing her heel towards the ceiling, and only the pinky toe with touch the floor with each lift. I usually do "Lift up 2,3,4, touch down, 6,7,8" something like that about 32 times per leg. I walk around and make sure that the inner thigh is being used and that the leg doing the lifting is both rotated and straight. I make sure that their heels are directed towards the ceiling.

Again, stand up and try different positions utilizing the newfound shaky muscles.

3. Tiny little circles-
Dancer lies down on her stomach chin resting on backs of hands which are on top of each other, palms down.
Dancer turns legs out to 1st position, flexes feet, and keeps hip bones touching the floor. Lift right leg up a few inches off ground and hold, energy going out heel, leg straight. Hold for 10 counts. Release. Do other leg. Alternate until legs are shaky. For this one, we are looking at the upper back part of the thigh to engage- right under the buttocks. You can see it well when a dancer is in tights. There is a crease in the upper hamstring.

Once a dancer has found that muscle, she can further challenge herself by doing the same exercise, but this time, adding a pointed foot, and doing 32 tiny circles with the entire leg, thinking about tracing the edge of a quarter with her big toe. Alternate legs maintaining hipbones to floor, straight legs.

Now she stands up and tries arabesque a terre and en l'air utilizing that upper thigh muscle. Every time she works her pliés/tendus/rond de jambe's/etc. from this point forward, she is thinking about these other muscles that she has just identified. The quads will then do their job without being asked!

4. Bridge-
This one's for the glutes!
Lie on your back with your knees bent, placing your heels in line with your sitz bones, feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your sides with palms down. Squeeze your glutes and raise your hips off the floor to get into the bridge position – you’ll form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Count to 100 and then slowly lower your hips back down. You may not feel anything while you are up in bridge, but you'll likely find your butt muscles as soon as you release!!! :firedevil:

For the ankles/feet-
I would try the relevé exercise in 6th position, facing the barre, and simply try to keep your ankle bones together. Maybe use a piece of paper or something small to hold. If that doesn't work, try the tennis ball one.

Also, when doing class, think of shaping your feet when you pointe and as you pointe, so that they are pointed in the same way as when you are in sur le cou-de-pied wrapped position, ankles fully articulated, heels forward, toes back etc.