Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

standing on hyperextended knees


Recommended Posts

I know this question has been asked a gazillion times, and I've read the answers, but I still feel like I need some clarification (and I know you can't see me...I'll do my best to describe the problem)


My knees are hyperextended. Not a huge amount...about what one would want for ballet. I like the way my legs look, but after watching myself doing quick releves on a videotape, I can clearly see that my knee is bent, though I can't feel the difference between perfectly straight and bent. This goes for static positions as well--especially attitude derriere. I know this is a common problem with this type of leg.


I don't know what "locking" back into the hyperextension means. Nothing feels "locked" when I hyperextend the knee. It just feels straight. Does locking back just mean that the kneecap isn't pulled up? If I stand on a leg that's hyperextended, pulling up my kneecap, I can feel the difference between bent and straight. Trying to bend it slightly to keep my leg perfectly straight, I just can't feel the difference between straight and a little bent, no matter how long I stare at it, trying to aquire the right feeling.


Lately, three different teachers have tried to get me to staighten my knees. Two say "straighten your knee...it is bent" One advises to use the hyperextension.


I've been looking at pictures and watching professionals who have hyperextended knees. I have to say, most of them stand on a hyperextended knee. I can see the backwards curve, and I think it looks good.


Have I been too scared about standing on a hyperextended knee? As long as I pull up the kneecap and my placement over the supporting hip is good, is it safe to allow for some degree of hyperextension? To my eye, it looks like that's what a lot of dancers do. I was watching myself today, and I think it looks a lot better when I do hyperextend a bit.


*added note--the past few days I've been experimenting with standing on my leg and allowing it to "straighten" ALL the way (slightly hyperextended) and I noticed that my hips, which are normally a bit stiff and sore following class, feel GREAT.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Lampwick, if the legs are not seriously hyperextended, like waaaaay back, and you are keeing your weight properly placed and the hips aligned, go for it. The legs have to be straight when they are not in plié, and if they are not looking straight then you are overcompensating for the hyperextension. Use it, just don't push back to the extent that the pelvis is out of alignment and the weight is in the heels! :)

Link to comment

Victoria Leigh, Thanks for your opinion. I'm glad this is OK to do, because it feels (and looks) much better. I think that putting more energy into feeling my knees and legs nice and tight has actually loosened up my hips more. I have a feeling I've been really "gripping" in order to hold my legs in a way that's not quite right for my body.


My teacher's been trying to get me more on my supporting hip for well over a year now. Maybe concentrating on my legs and knees is the way I need to be thinking about it. It feels a lot easier to get onto my hip with my knees hyperextended..I could shift right over without any strange tightness.


I bet my leg is bent in releve because I'm off my hip too.


Funny I can hear the same correction for a year and not fix it very much. Watch myself on videotape (horrors)...and want to fix it NOW.

Link to comment

Hi lampwick,


I am sorry to disapoint you, but I have a different view from Victoria. Me, myself, also HAVE hyperextened knees, and I DO know how locking the knees makes it easier to keep out legs straight.(or even balanced, when spinning) But this is very bad, and I just found out about how bad it is to your knees recently.


My personal trainer from the gym has always tell me NOT to lock the knees. She said by locking the knees, you are placing all your body weight in your knee joints instead of your quads. If you do this for a long time, it will most likely cause knee injury in the future. I didn't really think this is a problem at the time she told me, until recently, I heard something from my latin dance teacher. (not ballet though).


He, my dance teacher, also has hyperextended knees. In latin dancing, you are always supposed to keep your legs extremely straight. (yeah, unfortunately, this is the "rule") He started dancing at 9 yrs old, and has been locking his knees since then to "acheive" the "right look." He did it. He was European champion, etc. But he had a knee surgery in his teens! Yes! Teens! even before he is old.(he is only in his 20's now!) Knowig this makes me worried a lot, so I talked to my dad (who is a doctor). He called his friend (a specialist in knees and bones stuff), and he said that most people with hyperextended knees are fine, or at least when young, for their life as long as you are not OVERUSING (meaning putting more pressure on your knees) your knees. He said that I should stop dancing with my knees.... :ermm: I know, this doesn't sound good. I mean, I still dance, but I try really hard not to lock my knee, and just keep them with the "straight" look w/o actually locking them. To make up for the pressure on the knees from dancing, I also try really hard to walk and excersice without "using" or hyperextending mu knees, and try to build more muscls on my quads.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

It depends a lot on the degree of hyperextension. Someone with a LOT of hyperextension will have to work differently than someone with just a bit. It sounds to me like lampwick does not have extreme hyperextension.

Link to comment

Right. My hyperextension is fairly slight. I think I just need to focus on lengthening behind my knees more consciously while I dance, and now I feel comfortable that it's OK to do so even though my knees are hyperextended.


qqpp, you're right in that locking back the knees is bad. I am careful to support the structure with strong quads and careful use of turnout.


And I'm sure my teacher would point out anything that looks dangerous or wrong to her.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...