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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Advice needed: Exercise for back flexibility


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Eun Hee, the only thing we have to offer for back flexibility is cambrés. After all, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you have to practice on a piano! Tuba won't do it! But remember that a proper cambré isn't a backbend as contortionists understand the term. It bends just right under the shoulder blades. Then, as time goes on, the bend proceeds further down the spine, but you never pinch the sacrum against the lumbar part of the back.

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How about yoga exercises for back flexibility, like the wheel and the cobra?

Or are those bad?


I know they don't help with strength, but I do feel they give me a nice stretch so I like doing them.

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Yes, there are Yoga and also Pilates exercises, and things you can do with therabands, exercise ######, etc. However, one needs to be taught how to do these things correctly, or you can get hurt.

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You could ask your teacher how to do them properly because we do cobras and wheels in class with the obervation of my teacher and I think they helped my totally unflexible back a lot :D And yes, make sure that you do them right (therefore guidance of a teacher) because you can hurt yourself and then it might get even worse.

Sometimes we do an exercise I call "leg on the barre" (I guess that there is a proper word for it) It is a stretch at the barre where you put your leg on the barre and do excersise with relevé, plié, cambré and penché. I am sure you teacher knows it. Especially when you do the part where you have your leg in an arabesque on the barre is nice for back flexibility

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Guest Dancing Duranie

CC..........we do the leg on the barre thing too! We go forward and then we lift up through the torso and go back. Some of the girls in my class are literally laying on their leg when they go back! I'm like.....*eyes bugging out of head*........I'm doing good to go back slightly, know what I mean?!

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I also like to do renverse which my previous teacher made us do alot. Also can lie on the floor on your stomach and raise your upper body while keeping your feet on the floor with your hands behind your head. Also cambre back while doing the splits which really hurts.

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When you cambre back, you're not really stretching the back...you're stretching the front.


Most people carry tension in thier back and shoulders. In times of stress, many people get back pain. I don't think there's really too much in terms of extra stretching that's necessary for a good cambre. Certainly nothing that causes any pain (I don't believe in painful or even uncomfortable stretching at all). If your muscles hurt, they're contracting. It's opposite of what you want to accomplish. You need to get those muscles to relax.


I think the best thing it to feel the length in the spine. If you can release the excess tension from the back, a cambre will just sort of fall back on it's own. It's really all about feeling the energy in your body making you longer and taller. You go UP and BACK in a nice cambre. I always think of giving my spine "air". I imagine the spaces between vertebrae getting longer.


I hate the stretch on the barre with the leg in arabesque. I have a very nice arabesque and a flexible body, and that stretch always feels twisted and uncomfortable for me. It's too easy to cheat, and it does nothing, IMHO.

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Totally agree, lampwick. And, I also HATE that stretch with the leg on the barre in the back. Never do it and don't teach it to my kids. Find it useless and counterproductive.

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I hate to contradict, but actually I think anatomically there are some muscles in your back that run length-wise right next to the spine that stretch no matter which way you bend your spine (they are shortest when the spine is upright). The Latin name of those things completely escapes me right now...


Not that this invalidated the advice given in any way. :)

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Guest adancingartistforlife
Yes, there are Yoga and also Pilates exercises, and things you can do with therabands, exercise ######, etc.  However, one needs to be taught how to do these things correctly, or you can get hurt.



I agree with Victoria. Sometimes lack of back flexibility can be an asset, when it comes to holding placement. I would say concentrate more on proper epaulement, and work with the flexibility you have.


When it comes to the back, I opt first for strength and control.

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