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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Knees


Guest Mollieochie

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Guest Mollieochie

I have extrememly hyperextended knees! When I sit on on the ground with my legs extended in front of me my heels come off the floor a lot. When I stand in first position with my knees fully straightened they are 5.5 inches apart, if I stand with my heels together my knees overlap. So usually I stand with them only about 2 inces apart. I feel like my knees are bending, but it is better than using my full hyper extention. But my problem is in fifth. I have pretty good turnout, almost 180 degrees. So, I'm pretty sure that is not my problem. When I try to close in fifth it ends up looking like a small fourth. If I can get my feet together, I my front knee bends very noticably, and it feels like I am in a plie. I especially can not get to fifth with tondues or degajes (sp?) to the back. I extend the leg, and then bring it back into fifth by bending my front knee. I asked my teacher about this and she said to "bend" my knees all the time, and that it would feel funny at first but I would get used to it. That it would look straight to someone else and feel bent to me. I am a bit confused. Should I bend my knees only during degajes and tondues to the back? Or also during everything else? She also said that if trained correctly hyperextended legs look beautiful... So am I supposed to "train my self out" of my hyperextention of only use it part of the time? I don't know how to fix my knee problems and any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Alex

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Alex, hyperextension is both a gift and a problem. The problem is the standing leg, not the working leg. The working leg must be fully straight, and the trick to the standing leg is lifting up high enough out of the hip and keeping the weight forward enought to use the quad muscle to keep the knee straight without pushing it back into the hyperextension. The knees should not be bent.....but, they cannot lock backwards either.

 

Keep the space between the heels in first as small as possible, so that you don't increase the hyperextension. Make the rotator muscles at the top of the thigh work to keep you up and out of your legs and not pushing back. A small space in the 5th position is okay too, as that is necessary to keep the knees straight and the pelvis in line. Closing into 5th, both front and back, needs a lot of work on the standing leg so as not to bend the knees.

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Guest Mollieochie

Thanks for your answer. I tried lifting my foot of the ground at about 45 degrees, without locking backwards on the standing leg. I had a hard time balancing, because although my knees looked straight, they felt very bent to me. When I locked back, or used my full hyperextension, I felt more balanced. Also, when I dont lock back on the standing leg, I feel like my knee was tense, not pulled up, sort of a pain. It is kind of hard to explain. Will I grow out of these things? Or do you think I am doing something wrong?

 

I can't seem to lift out of my hip when I dont lock back. It hurts around my working leg seat area, when I use my hyperextension, I feel all round better. Is this a matter of habit? I just can't seem to feel well balanced and like I'm standing correctly when I don't lock my knees back .

 

Also, while standing in fifth position, with my legs fully straightened. It is not a small amount of space in between my heels. Will I have to go with a wider space than "very small"? My teacher stesses very much about closing completely to fifth. I dont know what to do. Thanks again for your answer, Ms. Leigh.

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Mollie, it sounds like you need to be seen by someone who has a really good understanding of hyperextension and how to work with it. The way you describe that feels best for you is definitely not correct. But this is just something that I don't feel I can help much more without seeing you and showing you. It has to do with correct alignment and weight placement. If your teacher does not understand this, then you need to seek the advice of another teacher who can work with you on this. It's very important that it be corrected.

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Mollie, do you have trouble with hyperextending your back as well? I have the same problem with my knees and for a while, when I'd try not to hyperextend my standing leg, I'd hyperextend my back, or shift my weight onto the wrong part of my foot. I have 2 different ballet teachers and both worked with me a lot on fixing this

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Yes, it's arching it, and throwing the ribs forward and the derrière backward. NOT a good thing. :wub:

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yah, the ribs go out and the pelvis tips forward. Its not attractive. I was just wondering if maybe you were tilting your pelvis forwards when you were trying not to hyperextending and that's why it didn't feel right? Its good if you don't though! Its a bad habit!

 

None of us can see you though to fix it. I have the same problem with my knees and I worked with my teachers during and after class. When I eventually hit that position while working and nothing was hyperextended and I was pulled up, it just felt RIGHT and my teacher and I were very happy.

 

and I refused to move for about 5 minutes after the combination for fear of losing it!

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Mollieochie, I have the same problem, though my legs aren't quite as hyperextended as yours. When you lift out of your hip and it hurts in the working leg seat area, is it like a muscle soreness or a pain like something's not right? Because if it's soreness, I think that's okay and is just because you're using muscles you're not used to using (correct me if I'm wrong, Ms. Leigh or Mr. Johnson). Being correctly aligned when you sink into your hyperextension (including keeping your ribs and derriere straight) is a really hard thing to conquer (I've been working on it for about three years and still have to concentrate very hard on it in each class, each exercise), but don't give up! :wallbash:

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