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Ballet Talk for Dancers

tight calf muscles


Guest monte

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Are there other stretches I can do for really tight calf muscles. I do the ones where you lay on your back and lift your leg up and use a towel to bring your leg forward and I cant get much beyond 90 degrees. And the one where you stand on a step and press your heel down over the edge. My muscles in my calves have been really tight lately and sore and cramping up. But its really weird i have hypermobile joints, swayback knees and very flexible feet with super high arches but really tight muscles. Most of the time when I do the deep calf stretch when you sit on the floor with your legs out in front with one bent up at the knee and lean forward, then hold that foot and straighten the leg i just can't feel any stretch. I just don't understand how i can be flexible and not flexible at the same time.

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Different parts of the same body can display different degrees of flexibility. Happens all the time. The first stretch you mention does about zero for the calves, although it's pretty good for hamstrings. The second one is better if treated like the "runner's stretch" where you stand on a flat floor and without turnout place the foot on the floor in back of you, and gradually take baby-steps backward until you're supporting yourself between your feet and your hands with the hands resting on a barre or against a wall. Keep the entire body straight between the floor and the hand support. I suspect that what you're doing there is leaning forward from the step. This can reduce the calf stretch to near zero. I wonder whether you know the difference between calves and hamstrings from the description of the third stretch you do. That's for hamstrings. Given that you have hyperextended legs ("swayback knees"), you're going to have to learn how to work with those legs straight, but not locked back!

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Sorry I wasn't really clear about the stretches I do. I have tight hamstrings as well but the calf muscles have been really tight lately. The 3rd stretch I mention the one with the head by the knee is said to be a deep calf stretch in "Dancers Complete guide to Healthcare. p 180 I usually feel it in the calf but lately it hasn't been helping. I have been working really hard on keeping my knees straight over the past few years and is almost like second nature now and my teacher is really pleased with that.

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Good! B) I'm glad you have the hyperextension under control!

 

In another thread, Caro was asking about resistance exercises to work the foot and arch. Resistabands, Therabands, or just plain old generic resistance therapy bands may be used with advantage to stretch calves, too! If you can't find them at the dance supplies store or a chemist's, then try a surgical supply house that carries physical rehabilitation equipments. That last-named is probably the cheapest place for them, and you can get as much as you need, as they sell them by length, and you can knot or cut them to please yourself. Just snap them a little to find out which gives the amount of resistance you want, or buy as many different weights as your budget or fancy suits.

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I'm not sure if parents are allowed to post here, but I read the topic thread and thouight I might have something to add as my daughter has a tendency to this problem. The first time it happened, she tightened up so much and the cramping was so severe she could not put weight on her legs.. and they did not completely recover for over a week. We took her to a PT immediately. Several things helped... one was a certain type of massage... from what I understand, sometimes just stretching alone cannot loosen enough of the fascia - the muscle covering - and although you are stretching the muscle, it can be pulled back tight again if this covering is tight. You can massage this yourself by putting several fingers on one spot on your calf and moving the skin in circular motion keeping the fingers on the same spot. Then after a minute or so in one spot, move to another spot. This is hard to describe, but basically its as if you are loosening the skin from what is underneath. You can assess what areas are tight by just seeing where they skin seems "stuck" when trying to loosen the fascia. Another way to do this is to use your thumbs and move down your calf by pressing very hard and slowly dragging your thumb along the skin. It will be uncomfortable and feel a bit stingy. Some PTs and massage therapists do this kind of massage.

 

The other thing she did was stretching with the use of a belt - which is less stretchy than a theraband. By using the belt under her foot and pulling back she got more stretch. I can't remember how long she held it, but it was much longer than a typical stretch...atleast 30 seconds but maybe a minute.

 

Also, we learned that dehydration can play a role in tight muscles. Daughter had been sick with a bad cold/respiratory thing right at Nutcracker. Against my usual routine, we had given her antihistmines to dry her up enough to get through the show. She had also been drinking gingerale - soda dehydrates too. These things apparently contributed to the problem.

 

I highly recommend the use of a good PT who knows dancers needs. Especially with your hyperextension, this might be very good. Best of luck.

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Thanks Mr Johnson I check those threads and go back to the good ol thereband. Thank you as well tendumom. I did get my mum to massage my legs before I even asked this question and she said she could feel how tight I was. I get her to look at what you said and will try that type of massage. :rolleyes:

Ohh and it has been really hot here for early spring with temperatures near 30 degrees Celsius so dehydration might be something as well.

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Oh, my goodness, floss, is it that hot already? Yes, indeed, look into dehydration as a possible cause for leg and foot tightness. And don't ignore a slight and transient potassium deficiency. One banana or a good glass of orange juice can supply sufficient K to loosen you up and prevent cramp.

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Really big oops :( I am soooo sorry. I forgot to log in under my own name. Now you will probably figure out that floss is my mum. But that's not so bad is it. :rolleyes: Sorry again (slap on wrist) :P

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Sorry it will have to be a dry, dusty wombat (still smelly!), no rain, our dam for the city's water supply is about 60 percent and we have water restrictions and bushfires further out in the state.

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Ouch! We had the same thing out west in the US (except for the wombats). Gotta love that El Niño/La Niña thing! :rolleyes:

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