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Ballet Talk for Dancers

My knees are hurting


dancingmeghan

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Whenever I turn out, go into splits or just cross my legs they hurt! I don't know what this is but last year (during the spring performance time) I had to skip 3 classes because of this. It's really annoying & I don't know what it is.

any ideas?

-Meghan

p.s. I'm 13 this is my 2 year in dance & 6 year in basketball

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  • Administrators

Hello Dancingmeghan, welcome to the Young Dancers' forum on Ballet Alert Online!

 

Knees are very complicated, and many injuries can happen from both ballet and basketball. There is no way that we will try and diagnose that here, as we are not doctors. Excessive turnout, incorrect placement, working without proper warm up, doing things you are not ready to do, etc., etc. All of those things can cause knee problems, but what the problem is needs to be diagnosed by an orthopedic physician. Since you also play basketball, that could complicate it. Also, if you are a good jumper, and going through a growth spurt, this can aggrivate a couple of knee conditions that young teens often go through. Again, only a doctor will know. So, get thyself to a physician post haste, as Major Johnson would surely say! :)

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I had a similar problem, and I finally went to a Sports Medicine Doctor last week. Definitely do this....like Ms. Leigh said, only a doctor can diagnose you. I was sort of scared to go to the doctor because my knees only hurt once in a while, and I was afraid he'd tell me to stop dancing or something horrible like that! :eek: But it really wasn't bad at all...nothing to worry about, and I was really glad to find out that my problem is not hard to correct (I pronate, or roll in on my ankles, a bit when I walk. This puts extra pressure on my knees.), and that I'm not doing long-term damage by dancing with my problem. While this could be your problem as well (it is very common) it also could be something totally different, so see a doctor. (I did RTP, Ms. Leigh, just thought your advice was so good I ought to add my personal experience to it!) ;)

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Meghan, "rolling your ankles" refers to placing the weight too much to either the inside or the outside of the foot. Rolling in, toward the arch, is a lot more common in ballet than rolling out. It's a function of insufficient rotation of the leg from the hip.

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Well, just think about it. Your hip joint is built to rotate, sometimes out to a perfect 90º each leg. It's a ball joint. The knee joint is more like a hinge. It bends forward and backward, but has not much play from side to side. If you place your weight unevenly on the feet, there is stress placed on the knee because in order to do that you have to force the knee to bend in a direction it was never intended to travel!

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O, so that brings me to a second question. How do you really know how it feels between using you knees to turn out & you hips? (I never really thought of this kind've stuff before)

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Meghan, it is your teacher's job to teach you those things right from the very beginning. If you are not turning out from your hips, your knees will be rolling inward and so will your ankles. This causes injury, as well as very unattractive line in ballet, since the leg will not be rotated from the hip. If you are in an "advanced" class and have not learned these things, then I think it might be time to search for a different school. :)

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Meghan, this sort of body awareness is called "kinesthesia", and it literally means "feeling movement". The movement can be ever so slight, like the change of weight from a "control zone" along the centerline of the foot and between the ball and the front of the heel. When the ankles roll, there is a slight movement that gives a twist to the knee which you can actually feel on the front inside of the joint. There will be a little pull there if you're stressing the joint from side to side. Now, achieving rotation from the hip is a real major production taking in the gluteals (backside), the hip flexors, the lower abdominals and a host of other things. You can tell if you're working the hip joint by a feeling of stretch at the upper inside of the leg, near the inguinum (front of the hip joint).

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I just came to this school and they were

correcting me on my "weak spots".

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She said I don't have a natural turnout and that might be the reason why my knees might hurt. And that's why I posted the topic to see what a natural turnout really is. Because I thought I had one. So I'm just confused.

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Oh dear, I see. So, this training is new to you and you are just learning about these things. Okay, that's fine. When one does not have a lot of natural rotation, then it is even more important to learn to work with what you have correctly. If your knees are hurting, your teacher may be right in blaming it on your lack of rotation because you may well be turning out from the knees and feet, and not from the hips. Or, you could be trying to turn out too far, which would also cause knee problems. Sounds like you have a teacher who knows, so the best thing would be to ask her/him to explain it to you so that you really understand what you are doing, what you are supposed to do, and why.

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Chances are very good that you're rolling in toward your arch. Sometimes pain can be our friend. It's a signal from your body that something's wrong. :) Try reducing the amount you turn out your feet and try to feel the rotation all the way up to the hip joint. Try this one: Stand with your feet together with absolutely no turnout whatever. Then lift up one leg to the front, turn it out in the air, just off the ground and put it back where it was, but now turned out from the hip. Shift weight and do the same with the other foot. (No fair sticking out in back! ;) ) Now you should be able to see what your natural amount of turnout is. But please keep the weight right along the centerline of the feet! When you do a demi-plié, you should notice your knees go outward on a line directly over your toes! :)

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