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Where's my extension?!

Jaana Heino

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Today in class I noticed that I've mysteriously lost my extension. I've been close to 90 degrees (maybe 85) both back and front, but now my développé front was maybe 70, and back no higher than about 45-50 degrees! :)


What on Earth can have caused this? I didn't feel any different from what I usually do, just the leg wouldn't lift. I was a little tired in my muscles after a rapier class yesterday, but not that tired. I've been stretching well recently, but not over-stretching (I think - I've tried to be careful as I've done that mistake once already...).


For about three weeks before this week, I could only take 2 classes a week instead of my normal 4. Can it make this big a difference? Or could I be stretching something wrong? I've added the frog stretch to my regime only recently. Any other possible reasons? I don't think I can have suddenly gotten that old.


Help... it's only a week until the ballet camp...:P

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Jaana, the difference between 2 classes a week and 4 classes a week is huge. It can make all sorts of changes in your work, even with all the work you do on your own. Nothing is quite the same as class.

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Guest bellepoele5

Well this is just something I've learned from my own experience. Some days you just have off days and you are either tired or just out of it and your muscles don't wanna hold an extension or your legs just feel heavier then usual. It happens to everyone even professionals.

The other thing I learned is you have to be careful not to stretch or force things either because I pulled the ligaments in my hips so bad from forcing a bit and just being very flexible to the point where sometimes i have to drop an extension to a tondue because I can't hold it up becaues of the pain. So I'm just saying if something hurts or doesn't feel right just be careful and don't force. No person should get hurt if it can be avoided especially as an adult dancing. You aren't trying to make it professionally at this point. I was trying to when I got hurt.

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Ok, if Ms Leigh thinks my off-time can explain it, I won't panic. :D Thank you!


Belle, I've too over-stretched myself once, and learned that you can do harm to yourself by too extensive stretching even when you don't actually pull something badly. I try to be very careful, only take the stretch as far is necessary to feel it and not further, and this has worked much better in gaining flexibility than my over-enthusiastic approach did.

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Janna I don’t think there is anything to panic about.


First, you have to consider your perception. Though you felt like your extension decreased, there is no real evidence that was the case. After all you aren’t really measuring it. So one possibility is that it just “felt” that way. As has been said by others, that just happens.


Another possibility is that your rapier class (????) is the culprit. You may not have sore muscles from that class, but nevertheless your muscles might have decided they didn’t want to work so hard during ballet class.


Or perhaps there was something else, like an insufficient warm-up. I know that unless I warm up for a certain amount of time before class, my flexibility and extension is much less in class. Further, that amount of time has increased. Also, and again strangely, my flexibility when class begins is better than when class ends. Makes no sense to me, but I know from years of experience this is true.


Incidentally, if I dance fewer than my usual number of classes for a while, my flexibility and extension seem to improve, though that is also just my perception.


In the end, I don’t think you should get too worried about little physical things. If you just ignore them and go on, usually things work out. Only exception is joint pain, for which you need a diagnosis. At the same time, it’s good to learn how your body reacts to different stimuli. Ideally you will know your body better than any doctor or so called expert and can make appropriate adjustments to your regimen as you see fit.

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gary, the funny thing is that the extension felt exactly the same as always - only looking at the mirror I noticed it was not where I was used to see it. I think I was better somewhat today, though - not back but closer to normal. So I suppose it's just something that will pass (there's been a heat wave, too, which might explain a lot of things).


Your advice about not worrying is good - I know I shouldn't, and I try just to continue taking classes. It's just that I'm dancing on a level I feel is a bit too high for me at the Finnish dance camp in a week, and I am terribly afraid of disappointing the teacher there... she's so nice and honest with us adult students, and my balance and control leave so much to hope for. :wub: (Actually, now that I think of it, the stress of that might be one thing causing extra tension!)


A rapier is a sword. B) I take classes in European swordsmanship about once a week at Helsinki School of European Swordsmanship and rapier is my current main weapon (due to schedule conflicts and prioritizing ballet more than due to a preference for that particular sword, actually, though I've grown to love the style I learn).

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My vague recollection is that you also either took or take martial arts classes too. If I ever run into you, I will be sure to keep my distance. Just kidding.


In any event, I would urge you not to carry any expectations to your dance camp, such as trying to please a teacher or anyone else for that matter other than yourself. I mean the purpose should be to learn some things, have some fun, experience a lot of dance, and enjoy the company of others who share your interests.

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gary, I used to do aikido, but I've given it up in favor of ballet and swordsmanship. Thanks for remembering! :devil:


As a funny aside, an aikido teacher used to tell about a former professional dancer he had taught on a beginners course, who had learned all the difficult stuff after one showing. "She just lifted her leg or moved her arms and put them exactly where needed exactly with the timing needed, and when I say exactly I mean exactly, and then she'd look and me and say, uncertainly, 'like this?'"


Thanks for the words about the camp; they were exactly what I needed. I had started to take unnecessary stress about it. :lol: I'll stop now. It's not as if I have to impress someone there. I do this myself, after all. :rolleyes:

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