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My Hips (Ouch!)


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Lately I've noticed soreness in both hips--more on one side than the other, but definitely in both. It is an outer-hip-type thing. It hurts most when closing to fifth from some positions but not others, and when stretching to the side. In non-dance settings, it hurts most when I first get up and when I first start moving after being at my desk for a while.


Besides 5 or so ballet classes a week, my other activities are biking ~40 miles/week and sitting at a desk for many hours each day. Nothing about biking seems to hurt it.


I had a nagging knee pain (both knees) problem last year that eventually went away--I later determined that that was likely initiated by clambering around on ruins in sandals in the rain.


Anyway, has anybody experienced this type of pain, and does anybody have any suggestions?


The obvious "take a few weeks off and see if it goes away" is built in as my studio will be closing for a two week break soon.

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Koshka, if you find the pain severe enough you should go to a doctor and get a diagnosis. In general, whenever you have pain in a joint, it’s good to get a diagnosis at least. Without a diagnosis it is difficult to identify a possible cause or effective treatment. I would just make sure I went to a sports medicine physician or a physician with experience in treating people who exercise.


Another line of thinking, especially if the pain isn’t severe and is just annoying is to accept it as something that goes with being physically active. If you are older, this is doubly so. Most people who train or practice intensely have something that is sore. Your experience with knee pain is an example. You did something, your knee hurt, and it went away.

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Guest karenfixe

Koshka, I'm with Garyecht on this one. The pain you're experiencing sounds very familiar, but I'm not a doctor. ANY type of hip pain should warrant a visit to the doctor. I found out the hard way b/c the pain originated from my lower back and fanned out to my hip. Ugh.


Good luck!!!

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I support the advice to have a doctor check it out.


There are a lot of powerful tendons which cross-cross around the hips. It's fairly common to develop imbalances and tightness in the hips from improper ballet training.


I stopped dancing five years ago because of pain on the outside of both hips. Sometimes I would get a twang so severe while walking up steps, I'd have to sit down. I assumed my hips were done with (at the age of 22)


Everytime I'd try to go back to ballet, I'd get the same pain and quit again. Seven months ago I found a teacher who immediately corrected the pain. If you are holding your leg in retire position with tightness on the top of your hip and over-engagement of the quads, you could be developing some strain. A lot of dancers will pull away from the barre while working, which can also develop strain.


Once I started working differently (especially in retire), I haven't gotten any hip pain at all. The leg should be held up there with the back of the thigh only, with the weight really over the standing leg. Your foot should not press against the standing leg at all to hold it there. If you're doing a retire this way, you're almost doing an isometric exercise exactly opposite of what you need for ballet. If you put your hand where the "bend" is in retire (top of the hip) can you feel the tendons tightening. That "bend" should feel nice and soft and the lift of the retire should feel like it's coming from underneath the thigh. In developee, gripping with the quads and lifting the hip can also tighten the tendons.


I was doing this wrong for so many years, that a tightness developed which prevented me from even working completely on top of the leg, which of course affects everything else. The "look" of the retire can seem perfectly correct, even if it's being held with the wrong muscles, so it takes a very keen teacher to notice the difference.


After rest and a doctors visit, you and your teacher should have a good look at how you're working at the barre. I really believe that subtle changes in technique and some extra stretches if necessary can save you from pain (provided there's nothing really wrong with your hips). Good luck!

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Thanks all. Will check around for a doc. lampwick, your experience was really illuminating, and think some of the teachers at my studio would be willing and able to work with me on this one. Overengagement of the quads is a _very_ likely suspect since mine are probably more developed than most due to the biking.


(Hmmm and now that I think of it, this problem first appeared in the spring, when I was able to return to biking after several months off due to our extremely snowy and icy winter. Hmmmm.)


I am older than 22, but so far have been fortunate to have quite robust health with only the occasional strain or overuse problem.

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I don't want you to think that nice strong quads are the cause of your problem either. The biking is probably really good for you, as is strength in the legs overall.


Perhaps your teacher or the PT can show you some nice stretches for your hips that could help counteract all the tightening. I'm sitting here imagining pedaling on a bicycle and can see how that may affect some of those tendons on the top of the hips.


Be sure your teacher checks retire position as well. This one felt quite different for me once I figured out how to do it correctly.

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Don't worry--I don't intend to give up my delightful bike commute, but I think that nice strong quads can increase the temptation to use them for lift when other muscles should be used...


I will do the retire check tonight. :-)

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Guest nadapatz

As an older dancer with experience with hip pain, I am going to suggest something very old school, a few sessions of Rolfing. My hips were saved by it. Less drastic and much less invasive, a good Piliates instructor with experience with dancers. I began dancing again recently after decades off. I am relatively injury free and injuries sidelined me in the first place, I attribute my rehabilitation to Rolfing and my rejuvenation to NY Style Pilates with a strict instructor. Insight into your alignment might take the stress off the joints.

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But, as a first step, I'd head for the doctor. Pain is sometimes our friend. It definitely lets us know when something's wrong.

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The immediate step is to ask Dr Dad. He's not an orthopedist, but, as he likes to say, he knows my family history better than anyone and hasn't been wrong yet. Also, he has nice long hours.


nadapatz, what's Rolfing? I know about Pilates, and in fact I was already signed up to start it in the fall.


Oh, and now I remember _exactly_ when all this started--this winter, when I was shoveling lots of very heavy snow, mostly using my dominant (right) arm. No classes then--it was definitely the snow.

It should've healed by now, but not (ahem) if it wasn't properly rested the first time around...

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Rolfing is a sort of deep and heavy massage of central masses of nerves called plexuses. The heel of the hand and the point of the elbow of the Rolfer come into play frequently upon the person of the Rolfee.

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Guest kristinene

Lampwick, another question for you. When in retiré you say that the tendons should feel squishy. Mine feel pretty tight. Everyone says (and, I think, knows!) that you need to feel it underneath the leg, but I can't figure out how to do that. Any suggestions? From anyone? Is it a matter of turning out, and having those muscles which wrap around lift the leg? Also, is the "bend" the one on top? The crease? Thanks!

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Yep. I'm refering to the crease on top (where the hip and upper leg attach). If the weight is not over the standing leg, and you're pulling out towards the leg in retire, the tendons will tighten up. Really make sure that you are shifted onto the standing leg before beginning the retire, and maintain your placement throughout. Your retire side hip should not raise AT ALL. Really shift onto the supporting leg.


Also, if you are trying to hold the retire position by allowing the retire foot to press into the supporting leg, this will cause the wrong muscles to work, and tightness will ensue. Your foot should not be what's holding the leg up there. Even though it's possible for this position to look correct, it's not. If you press your foot against the working leg to turn out the retire, this is also incorrect. Once you develop some strength in the hamstrings, the turnout should feel like a natural "opening up" which comes from the inner thighs. It's hard to describe the sensation, but it really is a different feeling. Although it may seem difficult to hold at first, and your retire will definitely not look as lifted and rotated for a while, you will feel a difference in not so long a time.


Balletowoman described this in the "extension strength" thread as well. It's an essential concept--and one which is easily overlooked. I know that I had done retire wrong throughout my entire childhood/teen training.



Hope that's somewhat clear. Have your teacher take a look as well. It's easier to explain in person . I think I may not be describing what you need to do so clearly. I think what helped me the most is not using the retire foot on the supporting leg to hold the position at all, and to let that crease relax. The only way to do that is to really shift onto the supporting side. And I didn't feel strong enough to hold the retire this way for about a month. It was very difficult at first. Being able to feel a nice "opening" and turnout took even longer. It was very turned in for quite a while and didn't look nearly as good as I could make it look by using the foot to open and hold it up. But it really is the correct way to build strength and lift.


Maybe one of the teachers on the board can suggest specific exercises and stretches to help as well. I know a few that I have to do to loosen the "crease", but am reluctant to try and explain them with words as they could be potentially damaging if not done correctly.

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