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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Regaining strength/stretch esp. in extensions but elsewhere too


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I'm just returning to dance after 3.5 months off recovering from my second hip surgery (both have been arthroscopic). For about 5 months prior to the surgery, I was pretty limited in what I was both able and allowed to do--nothing over 45 degrees, no grande plies, no grand allegro, no passe, limited coupe...the list goes on. Both my surgeon and current PT are relatively familiar with dancers (surgeon is the assistant doc for the Boston Ballet and has treated 3 other dancers that I personally know; PT isn't super duper familiar with dancers but deals with them enough) and last week gave me the clearance to return to dance with no restrictions other than no jumping and no pointe shoes until I'm at the 4 month mark. They also, obviously, want me to return slowly and carefully which I'm doing (really, don't want to go through this for a third time--I know they say the third times the charm, but why do it three times if I can get away with only twice? :thumbsup: )--I'm still home on break from college and have been frequenting the lower level classes at my old studio for lots of slow barre work and little bits of centre.


So far, the only big challenge I'm encountering is strength and flexibility in extensions. The "good" side is fine front and side, a bit weak, but the flexibility is definitely there and the strength to get it there is just a bit lacking since, well, I haven't been doing a whole lot since October. Around 70 or so degrees in arabesque with that leg, I feel like I'm hitting a wall, that there's no way I can get any further--I've always had a pretty decent arabesque, easily over 90. We ruled out back flexibility as being the limiter here--the back is just as bendy as ever. Any ideas for stretching it and building up strength? The "fixed" side is all around stiff and weak--I feel like there's no way in heck I can get it over 60 degrees front and side; back I can get just shy of 90. Again, it feels like I'm hitting a wall. PT sees no issue with my flexibility--I fall well into the hypermobile range. This makes me feel like it must be more of a strength issue but the "I can't make my leg go any further" feeling that I get seems to feel more like I need more stretch :green: . No one has any delusions about my strength--we all know I've still got a ways to go and I've been given a set of exercises to target my weakest areas. I do these religiously. The only thing I'm a bit wary of is really pushing for more stretch--I'm not about to start dropping into splits or cranking my leg up with my arms; not for a bit longer at least. Any ideas here or should I just wait it out a bit longer and not worry, it'll come?


I'm dance major in school (don't worry, I've already dealt with the logistics of everything with the dance dept) and I go back next week. Prior to surgery, I was placed in (for both ballet and modern) what they felt my level was with the understanding that I did have certain limitations which were probably resulting in a slightly lower placement. For next semester, I've been placed one level down from that for both ballet and modern technique. I was also encouraged to enroll in the lowest level of ballet tech, which I did--this gives me 5 classes/week "at" my level for ballet (really, one level down from my pre-surgery placement), 3 classes/week "at" my level for modern, and 3 low level ballet classes. Once I'm feeling stronger, I will be venturing off campus for classes with a local company. Does this schedule sound reasonable?


Thank you so much

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La Bailarina, I think we are very hesitant to answer this due to what you have gone through with all of your surgery, etc. In your case, I really think that your physician and your physical therapist need to be your guides here, in terms of what you can do when. Besides that, it is just a matter of time and classes, and of course a LOT of patience. I don't think advising you on extra work is valid in your situation, as you have been through too much trauma. Do what you can do, trust your body to tell you what you can and can't do, and don't push it or you will end up back where you started. You have been out a long time, and it will take a long time to get back to where you were. There are no shortcuts. Sorry. :clapping:

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Thank you Ms. Leigh.


The hard part for me is realizing that, even though I feel better than I have in the past two years, I did just have a pretty involved surgery. I'm so ready to just put this all behind me that I'm probably expecting too much too soon. My doctor has told me the risks if I overdo it now--femoral fractures, further tears, and more psoas trouble included--so I'm definitely being careful and taking my time. Pushing for height in extension was something that he said was alright and relatively risk-free.

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