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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Legs and feet of different strengths?


smileywoman

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I'm relative new to pointe and notice that I favor one leg over the other. What exercises do you recommend to balance out this problem?

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The only way to balance out an imbalance is to work more on the weaker side. Do all of your exercises, when you practice, twice as many times on the weak leg.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest dancer'sheart

smileywoman,

 

I have the same problem as yours. My left is more streamlined than my right. Is it true that the wobble board will help equalize both sides and enhance your balance?

 

dancer'sheart

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I'm not familar with the wobble board, but I"ve read that it is good practice for balance and assists with learning to do turns. I have been told to do twice as many eleves on the weaker side to help increase strength. A lot of us tend to be stronger and/or more flexible on one side, so I know it's important to practice both sides. Also, I was told to always start with the weaker side [especially with weight training].

smileywoman,

 

I have the same problem as yours.  My left is more streamlined than my right.  Is it true that the wobble board will help equalize both sides and enhance your balance?

 

dancer'sheart

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Guest dancer'sheart

I'm using the resistance/elastic bands to strengthen my legs. I noticed that one leg is stronger than the other so I do more repetitions on my weaker leg. Hope this helps

 

dancer'sheart

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Because of the severe sprain I had in high school (it swelled as big as my thigh), my left ankle is sort of loose from side-to-side which makes me sickle on that side. It often happens without me realizing it. So, I usually have to start a combination and look at that foot to check that it is right and continue on.

 

Frustrating...

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I'm guilty of favoring my good side when I'm practicing balancing on one foot at home. Or if I'm just dancing around to rock music. Or just looking at myself in a pose.

 

Be aware of how you use your body at all times. I need to remind myself to try favoring the "bad" side.

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Be aware of how you use your body at all times. I need to remind myself to try favoring the "bad" side.

 

And it is possible to change the 'bad' side...! My right side has always been the strongest, especially after a substantial injury in my youth - so I prefer to turn on my right leg (so, pirouettes en dehor - I prefer turning to my left...) But, a few years ago for a production all the pirouettes I had to do were to the right, so that is all we focused on and all we did in pdd - now, en dehor to the left is an issue!

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  • 4 months later...

Hey Smiley...........it's your favorite FunkyBuddhistGrl here! =)

 

My left leg has been stronger since I had a knee injury at 19 and went through two years of rehabbing it. When I went back to dancing at 21 there was a noticable difference in strength and balance on that leg........carrying over the five years I've had off and up until the last month.

 

As you already know, I'm recovering from toe surgery on my left big toe. I have been very guilty of favoring my left foot and trying not to put much weight on it to allow the toe to heal better. Guess what? In class........now my right leg is the stronger and better balancing leg. I used to have a lot of problems turning on my right leg, now I can't "get up" on my left leg!

 

So it is possible to build up your strength, but mind you.......I was doing this in all aspects of daily life with my right leg compensating for an injury to my left foot, not just for/in ballet classes. Now I've got to work on getting the strength in my left leg back and I'll be a turning MACHINE on both legs! =)

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Here is an interesting bit of trivia related to symmetrical strength. Do you know that if you exercise one arm through something like weight training and not the other arm, BOTH arms will nevertheless increase in strength?

 

Though we appear symmetric at first glace, with closer measurement we are not. We tend to favor one side over the other, for a variety of reasons. And we may not be consistent. Baseball players are a good example. Some bat right handed and throw left handed for example. Most right handed people jump better from their left leg than their right leg.

 

One reason for the imbalance between right and left is the imbalance in the motor pathways. For whatever reason, they seem to develop faster on one side or direction than the other. But they are influenced by practice too. When I first started pirouettes, turning en dedans was much much easier that turning en dehors. Many years later, and after doing about 20-25 en dehors pirouettes for every en dedans pirouette, the opposite is true. Essentially my en dehors turning motor pathways developed a lot more than did my en dedans turning motor pathways.

 

Another thing I’ve learned is that we tend to get better at whatever exercises we do first. That’s one reason why I think many of us are so clueless when it comes to doing something to the left. Tradition has it that exercises begin on the right. If I were a ballet teacher, I’d buck tradition and start my first exercise on the right, second on the left, third on the right and so on until the end.

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My right leg is so much stronger than my left leg in all aspects. When I do barre at home I always start with the left...thinking this might help. The jury is still out.

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One thing that I need to do is mark combinations at the barre (as the combinations is being taught/given) on my bad side :( ; I usually mark on the side facing the teacher, which is my good side. My teachers always stand by the stereo equipment, so we're always facing the same way to learn combinations, but they do walk around the studio as we are dancing the combinations. :) So, sometimes I just mark with my hands, instead of my legs. It would be hard to mark on my bad side because that is the side close to the barre, if that makes any sense!

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Guest ArmedFiddler

Hey smileywoman, it's your buddy RavenMad. :D

 

Another thing I've done to help even strengths out is to do my theraband reps slower on my "bad" side, thus forcing myself to really push against the resistance and exercise muscular control. I found that just doing more reps increased the stamina, but not necessarily the raw strength the way going slower does. And if I need to build up flexibility on my "bad" side, I do the reps faster than I do them on my other side. For me, my left side has always been my stronger side, and my right always my more flexible side, but this has changed recently.

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