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What's my problem?


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I have two questions to ask about some stretches I find quite difficult to do which involves muscle tightness, but I have no idea how to remedy it.

The first stretch is where you are sitting with the soles of your feet pressed together in front of you, butterfly style, and then I try to lean forward to touch my head on the floor in front of me..or try to. No matter what why I go about it, I end up feeling like a little old lady with my shoulders all hunched and nowhere near the floor. So what's keeping me from reaching my goal? Which muscles do I need to be strengthening and/or stretching. What am I doing wrong?


Secondly, I seem to have incredibly tight quads (top of thigh). I do that stretch where you hold your ankle and bend your leg up behind you, but to be honest I worry with my knees with that one. I do try to stretch quite gently with regards to those muscles as I worry about straining my knee, but if I miss a few days, they become tight again..what am I doing wrong?


Thanks for any insights, I know how impossible these questions are to answer, but any tips would be much appreciated. :wacko::angry:



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This is the quad stretch that I teach (I have the same concerns as you regarding potential knee strain...);


Note: this is a deep stretch and should not be considered a warm-up, but rather done when the dancer is warm or as a cool-down stretch.


Lying on your back, bend both knees and bring them up as high to your chest as possible (tailbone may come off the floor). Keeping your knees together, gently swing them over to one side, until the 'bottom' knee is on the floor. Extend the 'top' knee which becomes your 'anchor' leg and take hold with the opposite hand (ideally this should be at your foot, but less flexible people may be holding anywhere from the outside of the knee to the ankle, etc.). While maintaining this 'anchor' postion, with the other hand, reach down and take ahold of the 'bottom' foot and gently pull the leg away, ideally until it is extending in a straight (6:00) position under the head. Both shoulders should be on the floor. Hold for 10-30 sec and release gently and do the other side.

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I have the same problem with the "butterfly-type" stretch as you do. Even as a child I couldn't get my head to the floor. Unfortunately, I don't have any suggestions. I don't think it's related to the quad stretch, because I don't have any problems with that one. I do a similar stretch as Cabriole, but don't bring my knees up quite as far.

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Maybe IT band tightness and/or tightness in the glutes? If the muscles in the backside are tight andshort, they're going to inhibit the hips from tipping forward, so the back makes up the difference and "rounds" over.


Maybe some stretching for the glutes would help/

Just guessing.

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Thanks you guys for the info, I will try and stretch my butt muscles! :blushing: they do feel tight when I do other stretches. That quad stretch is much more effective and feels a lot less damaging when done the way you suggested. Thanks again :P

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Ooh, I can feel the pain as I read your post! I'm lucky to have pretty flexible hamstrings, but I have a pretty stiff lower back, and of course flexibility (or stiffness) is also related to frequency of stretching and too much working at a desk or computer. In doing the frog/butterfly stretch at the start of a Graham technique class, my Graham/contemporary teacher used to get us to make quite a long diamond shape with our legs - that is, she dissuaded us from having our heels too close to our pelvises. This helps with drawing the head and the back forward by really stretching out the lumbar spine and you get more of the 'flat back' sensation that the hunched feeling you describe. You get more of a sense of going forward from your hips rather than your waist. So maybe that might help - lengthening out your sitting position?



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Xena, your use of the word “goal” triggered something in me that may or may not be off base.


I mean what do you mean by a goal? Reaching a certain position that makes you look flexible?


I would say that unless you are trying to do some stretch that requires enormous flexibility (e.g., standing and doing a back bend until you can hold on to your ankles (an extremely difficult yoga posture)) it is almost impossible to have difficulty with a stretch. Stretching is all about what you are feeling and not what you look like. It is about thinking what your muscles are doing—some stretching, others contracting, still others relaxing—and mentally creating the stretch you are doing.


In the stretch you reference, which is a common stretch in modern or contemporary dance, putting your head on the floor is absolutely irrelevant to the stretch. In that stretch, you want to feel grounded in the pelvis, glued to the floor so to speak, relaxed in the entire upper body, with a stretch in all the muscles around the pelvis. If you are in the position and don’t feel a stretch in the lower back, think of extending the very most lower part of the back to create more stretch.


Though I don’t really recommend yoga for dancers all that much, if you have a chance to take any Iyengar style yoga classes, generally they obsess on these aspects of stretching, and I guarantee you that you will learn how to benefit from any yoga or non-yoga stretch you might do.

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Hi and yes I agree with 'goal' statement..I guess it's not a goal as such..I just don't like not being as flexible as I should be, or rather that is as healthy to be.

The first stretch I mentioned is one that has always been done or I've seen beeing done in every ballet class I have ever been too since I first started. Problem was, I was fine as a kid, easy peesy. So that exercise to me is I guess, a personal goal to acheive what used to be possible and I enjoy doing it. I feel like I should be progressing, but am not. To see most of the people in your ballet/yoga/stretch/pilates class do that stretch and just flop over easily without being hindered, kind of bugs me more than anything. I want to work at that, but obvioulsy something is holding me back in more ways than one.

As a quick background..my PT told me (3 years ago) I have stiff hips and that I need to loosen them, but the exercise she gave me was the one where you lie on your back bring one leg up and then cross the other leg ontop, grabbing the thigh and holding your leg, which I do as well.

Thanks Kate for your idea, I will give that a go.


P.S. my yoga teacher is like butter, he just melts into any pose with the litheness of a umm lithe thing, and he knows I am more than capable of doing most of the poses as he comes and pushes and pulls anddoes other weird things with my arms or legs or head, I can get down when he pushes me, he has a way of pushing down my spine in a way that loosens it up and lengthens it, but as soon as he lets go, up I pop :) .He laughs and ..I cry :D .I swear he'll sit on me next time...for the whole class!



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