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Ballet Talk for Dancers

hyper-extended knees


Guest Leap4stars77

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Guest Leap4stars77

I was wondering, since I have hyper-extended knees, I find it sometimes difficult to do certain stretches. I make accomodations that my dance teachers suggest to make the stretch not hurt, but I was just curious if there are any dance steps that are not possible or harder to learn with hyper extended knees and a way of which to help. My teachers tell me to bend my knees slightly, because when I do this, my legs are staright. Is this good advice?

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Mandi, I don't think there are any steps or movements that are not possible, but there are, as you have learned, several which do require a bit of adjustment. As to bending the knees, if they are really severely hyperextended, it might be necessary in certain things, but I would probably use the term 'slight relaxation' of the knees, rather than actually bend them. Just a question of degree, but in certain things, like échappés on pointe, or beat steps, where you might need to slightly relax them. You will also have to be careful of the standing leg in penché. It sounds like your teachers are on top of this, however, and I think you will be fine!

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I have had the HARDEST time with my hyperextended legs. They have, I think, messed up my hips, turnout, and lower back. I am just starting to learn how to use my lower body correctly. I still have the problem with stretches. In cambre forward, when my hands are on the floor, I DO NOT feel any stretch in my hamstrings. Just behind my knees. I relax my legs, and I still dont' feel anything. I have to bend them so much to start to feel anything in my hamstrings. And, as some of my teachers have said, I am so flexible, my hamstrings aren't strong, and so they always hurt. What is the proper way to stretch hamstrings for those who have hyperextension in their knees?

I also am confused about when I should be relaxing and when I shouldn't. One teacher told me that I should do barre work and other steps on flat with more relaxed knees, but when I go on pointe or releve, I will have to fully straighten them. But at the barre, when we balance, if I fully straighten my knees, my pelvis tilts forward, and my back sways, and my turnout suffers. And so then another teacher told me to somewhat relax them when I am on releve. (exceptions, I guess, are when I am doing piques turns and relevel arabesques and quick pointe work) So what do I do?

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Allegro, this is a constant problem for those of us with very hyperextended legs. We have to strengthen the quad muscles and learn to use them fully while still not allowing the knees to push back to the point where the pelvis gets displaced. It may feel like the knees are slightly relaxed. This could happen both on flat and on pointe. You may need to do some therapy on strengthening the hamstrings as well, since you are so flexible. Keeping the pelvis properly aligned is primary. Making the legs straight without hyperextending so far that it weakens everything is the key. This takes working with the quads more than the knees. I would suggest some work with a physical therapist who really understands this problem, possibly a certified Pilates Instructor, but preferably one who is also a dancer. They do exist, as many former dancers have studied Pilates and become certified now.

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Hello,

I don't want to seem stupid, but what exactly is hyperextended knees? How can you tell if you have it?

Heather :eek:

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Heather, any joint can be hyperextended; in some cultures, the Thai for example, hyperextended fingers are considered a mark of great beauty and gentility. All the term means is that the joint reaches full travel "in back" of straight. Seen from the side, with no turnout, hyperextended knees seem to bow backwards. In first position, this configuration may not permit you to put your heels together with your knees "locked back". It's not an unbeatable condition, and in most people, it's absolutely unnoticeable, because they're not dancers! :o

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