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Ballet Talk for Dancers

hamstring pain?


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I've noticed a pain in my right hamstring, outer back side. My left is fine. I only feel the pain in a straddle position and in a front attitude type stretch (leg on barre in attitude while bending forward). When my legs are in parallel or first position cambre foward I don't feel this pain at all. I've been trying to loosen it up and stretch a bit every day but it doesn't seem to go away and it seems to be quite localized. Could this be an injury that I am just exasperating? Or just a case of tight hams? I'd like to keep stretching but I don't want to make anything worse.


And on the note of the attitude stretches on the barre, this is hard to describe. When I put either leg on the barre in attitude it almost feels like it needs to "crack." However I don't think it's a joint that's making it feel that way, just some tight muscles. If that makes any sense at all. What muscles need to be targeted for stretching to loosen up that attitude position?

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Elise, sounds like it's just the position you are trying to achieve, and not an injury. I can't be sure, but if there was really a hamstring injury, you would know it on a forward cambré and on any extension to the front or side. Is it possible that the barre is too high for you in terms of the attitude stretch? And with the straddle, that is mainly hips, because it's rotation more than hamstrings on that one. If there is no pain on a regular front split, then I don't think there is a hamstring injury.

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It doesn't sound like a hamstring injury for me either, but it's difficult to say without seeing you. If it keeps on bothering you, maybe see a medical professional with experience of treating athletes and/or dancers?


I would like to add however, that as far as I know, apart from acute cramps in muscles, you should not stretch against actual pain. That will only make the muscles around the pain tighten in protection of the hurting site, and actually be counter-productive.

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Elise, could it be that you have a sore piriformis or other hip muscle? The pain might radiate below the hip joint even though the muscles don't go that far. (Someone more knowledgeable in anatomy will hopefully correct me..)


I had strained something on the outer side of the hamstrings last fall, but it didn't feel painful in hamstring stretches. It did feel painful in something like the attitude stretch (and in a folk dance step I'd be hard put to describe... Finnish pisto, anyway). I can't get even close to a straddle split, so couldn't say how that would have felt :) I think I had slightly strained my piriformis, as it hurt the most in the kind of things that are usually used to stretch that. I can't be sure, though, since it went away before I had time to whine to my PT.


Since mine was a sudden-onset thing, not a gradual one, I just used ice and let it rest for about a week (avoiding anything painful, incl. stretching). On the other hand, if you can locate the muscle, and it just feels tight and sore and not actually painful, massage might be helpful. Massaging the piriformis is a pain in the butt, though :shrug:

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I am wondering if it is part of the rotation also now that you mention it. I don't mean an actual straddle split but sitting straddle stretching forward type position, which would also mean I'd be turned out same as the attitude position. I have been doing the attitude stretch on the lower bar lately because it just feels too stressful all around to do it on the high bar.

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Hello Elise,

Is it possible that you have one leg shorter than the other? :flowers:

Clara :)

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That is quite possible actually. I doubt it's a matter of inches but I do notice when I ride horses I can never get the leathers the same length on both sides and I look lopsided in photos.

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