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sugarplumfairy_caroline

Will More Stretching Make my Muscles Slimmer?

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sugarplumfairy_caroline

The muscles on my legs are a bit larger than I would like, so I was wondering if extra stretching would make them a little slimmer? Sometimes I read that there is really no way to slim down muscles that are already there, and sometimes I read that stretching and pilates is great to lengthen them. Which is so?

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Mel Johnson

You cannot LOSE muscles that are already there, except by surgery, and that will hurt for the rest of your life. If muscles have hypertrophied (gotten big), then stretching will make them longer and smoother-looking.

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sugarplumfairy_caroline

Okay, that makes sense! :grinning: What is a good stretch for the quads? That is the main area that needs stretching...

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Mel Johnson

Use the Search feature of the board and search on "quad stretch" (include the quotes). There should be hundreds of posts over many threads about them.

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Mel Johnson
I am not a medical person, just a Mom....

 

And this is a Young Dancers' forum, where moms are not allowed.

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Clara 76

I am wondering why the muscles are "larger" than you'd like?

 

There are a few factors that can cause over-musculature in the thigh muscles:

1. Genetics

2. Hyperextension

3. Gripping

4. Too much sustained work is being given

5. A combination of the above

6. Body dysmorphia

7. Nutrition issues

 

If it's genetic, then working with a qualified teacher in pilates or gyrotonics can be helpful.

If it's hyperextension, then you are falling back into your hyperextension too much in standing positions which certainly can cause the muscles of the upper leg to overwork. Check out my alignment post: Alignment

If it's gripping- stop it! Use the muscles up the backs of your legs to rotate and control extensions. If you're not sure about that ask us.

If it is the work, then it may be time for a look at your school; should supplemental classes be done with another teacher? Should you switch schools?

If it's body dysmorphia, you need a doctor and therapy.

If it's nutritional, ask to meet with a nutritionist. They will be very helpful in teaching you what your body needs as fuel.

 

Hope that helps!

:)

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sugarplumfairy_caroline

1. Hmm, this may have a part in it... I have a naturally more muscular body than most of the other girls in my class, and always have. There are pilates classes at the SI I'm going to this summer, should that help?

 

2. My legs are a bit hyperextended, but I don't feel my thigh muscles working when I stand up. Is that what you're asking?

 

3. I think this may play a part in it. I recently made a post about my problems with rotation, but I still can't locate the muslces underneath, except maybe a little bit on the right to the side...

 

4. The problem is I can't really tell with this one. Most of the other girls in my class also have muscular (but not overly) legs. But we have had girls in the past whose legs stayed very skinny. Perhaps it's because lack of stretching?

 

5. See above...

 

6. I just googled this, and I know I am very critical with my body, but I don't feel it's so extreme it could be classisfied as a disorder...

 

7. I never realised that nutrition could play a part in it. Could you elaborate? Are there certain foods that too much can make muscles bulky?

 

Thanks!

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Cambria

I was wondering how to avoid gripping your quads.....I find when trying to straighten my legs I tighten my quads and I think we doing developpes I am not using the hamstring.....How do you practice using the hamstring and how do you straighten your legs without gripping? Thanks!

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Clara 76

Well, I'm not a nutritionist, nor do I play one on TV!! Any food-related questions need to go through a qualified doc. Sometimes, SIs will offer seminars, so if they do, check it out. You may be just fine, but as a dancer, it's important that we are correctly fueling our bodies, and that sometimes means eating more than we typically do, but more of the right stuff. :)

 

It sounds like you could address some of these questions at your SI. Most SIs will want your feedback on the things you'd like to work on, (don't say fouettés.... :) ), and rotation is right up an SI's alley!! Let someone know right off what your concerns are, and hopefully they can help you decide what needs focusing on!

 

Keep us posted!

 

If you still can't find the backs of your legs when you come back from SI, let us know and we'll see if there's anything else we can try at that time.

 

 

EDITED TO ADD- Just saw your post, Cambria!

Well, most of us tend to picture the front of our bodies when thinking about technique. I want you to think about your body as being 3-dimensional, because it is!

 

First off, it helps to understand where the leg rotates from. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint held in place by the tendons and ligaments. If the joint were not a ball and socket, we couldn't walk or run or balance very well, because our legs would not be able to move.

 

The best way to feel the ball and socket joint in your hip is to lie down on the floor on your back, keep your lower back on the floor but lift your legs up to the ceiling so that your body is a right angle. Now, keeping your leg muscles as relaxed as possible, turn your legs out and in. In that position, you should be able to do this fairly easily keeping the muscles relaxed. It is because of gravity that things will be different when you stand, but more on that in a minute.

 

Can you feel how your legs rotate? That is one of the functions of our hip joints.

 

Now we need to understand why we use rotated legs in ballet! Most of the time, teachers will say something about the King's shoes and jewels, or something like that, but it really goes deeper: We use rotation in ballet for Balance, Extension, and Line.

 

Balance because it is much easier to balance upon a wide base than a narrow one. To test this, place your feet together in 6th position, and measure the width of your base. Now rotate your legs to 1st and measure- it provides a much wider base, which is especially helpful when balancing on one foot!

 

Extension because we cannot lift our legs en l'air very high when our hip joint is not rotated.

 

Line because ballet is also about making shapes in space- angles, curves, lines, geometic shapes. A rotated line is a prettier line.

 

So, now we understand about rotation. How do we control it when gravity and movement are acting as forces upon our bodies? Well, that's where our muscles come into play. It is the job of our muscles to help keep our bones in good alignment, and they are responsible for controlling our turnout. Since we have muscles attached to our femurs in front, back, inside, and outside of our thighs, we need to make use of them! First, we have to locate them.

 

There are exercises specifically designed to help students when they are struggling to find those muscles within the structure of a ballet class, but a good teacher should be able to explain how he or she wants you to perform some of the ballet exercises that specifically target rotation.

 

I have a test question for you:

Which barre exercises do you think are practically made for working on rotation and turnout???

Edited by Clara 76
New posts!!

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Cambria

I'd also like to add that I have searched for gripping quads or thighs and developpes and have tried almost everything it has said.....I am now wondering am I engaging the quads or gripping them? How can you tell? Thanks again!

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Mel Johnson

It's nearly impossible to tell without seeing someone to determine whether there's gripping or only normal engagement going on. One way to tell is to see whether the quads are rock-hard and jamming the knee into a locked condition. Remember, that's actually dangerous. The knee is straightened and pulled up, but forced is always trouble.

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Cambria

Thanks for your posts Mr. Mel and Ms. Clara....I understand both your posts and I will get my teacher to see if I am gripping my quads and using the correct muscles. I would say that at the tendu's and ronde de jambe's are used for working on rotation and turnout and also I don't know if these are traditionally done at the barre but extensions I think focus on turnout and rotation.

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Clara 76

Very well done, Cambria!!

 

Rond de jambes are excellent for working on rotation and turnout!! One must really concentrate on lifting up and out of the supporting leg; keeping the hips level; keeping the supporting leg rotated; and keeping the en dehors rotation in the moving leg all the way round!!!

 

Do check with your teacher, and let us know!!

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Cambria

Thanks for all of the help. I'll let you know what my teacher says when I have class tonight. Thanks again!

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