Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Front extensions


Ginniathezinnia

Recommended Posts

I think I've seen a post about this on here before, but after mulling over several pages in the search I didn't see anything about it.

So- here's the issue.

 

I have full 180 extension to the back and to the side.

 

However, to the front- the highest I can hold it at is 90, during developes, and even that is very painful.

 

It is not as strong or flexible, when dealing with the hamstring.

This has been a problem for me, even in my better years of ballet.

 

I asked a friend who is a massage therapist, (and recently just saved my mother's back!) and she told me that tight hamstrings can be a result of slouching the upper back and shoulders.

 

Any words of wisdom?

Link to comment
  • Replies 35
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Ginniathezinnia

    6

  • Victoria Leigh

    5

  • Serendipity

    5

  • Merry

    4

I don't have any words of wisdom and am trying not to be jealous of your other 180° extensions! I just wanted to ask if the pain is whenever you lift to the front, or only if you have to hold the extension? Oh, and which part of the hamstring is it that hurts?

Link to comment
I asked a friend who is a massage therapist, (and recently just saved my mother's back!) and she told me that tight hamstrings can be a result of slouching the upper back and shoulders.

 

Sorry, I know that this doesnt in the least help you, but I was really intrigued by this comment. Did she by any remote chance suggest why tight hamstrings may be a reult of slouching the upper back and shoulders? Please know that I am not in anyway questioning what she said, I am just really interested.

Link to comment

If you look at most dancers, you'll find that they are very flexible EITHER to the front or to the back, but rarely to both. I think it has to do with the way their anatomy is set up. Side extensions don't seem to figure into this observation - again, I think it's an anatomical thing. I remember reading about this in a dance anatomy book.

 

I've observed several teachers that I have who are still able to do extensions. In all cases, they were either great to the front OR to the back but not to both. It may have to do with the way the hips are set up.

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Guess I must be weird, then, since I have equal extensions in any position. Or, had. Because I have a bad back now, the arabesque is gone, but it was there until a few years ago. The front and side extensions are still there. In fact, I really can't think of any professional level dancers I know who have any noticeable difference in their extension in any direction. :shrug:

 

Ginnia, let's rethink the idea of 180º degree extensions. The only way that happens to the back would be in a penché, and to the front I don't think there is any way to get a rotated leg to that degree. Even side it's only done in acrobatics, where they do not have to worry about placement and rotation. :wink: I am one of those with natural flexibility and rotation, and my extensions were considered somewhat exceptional. (I was born with it, so not taking credit for that.) However, they were not 180º, nor did I want them to be! :o

Link to comment

 

Here is a link to a Lisa Howell video on Youtube. It shows how tightness in the neck and upper back can affect the hamstrings. Well worth a look.

Link to comment

Good heavens, Doubleturn!!! I've not seen anything like that before. My cynical mind asks if it's real, but I guess it is!!

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Excess tension prevents movement. I have not watched the video, but it just makes sense that excess tightness anywhere is going to somehow affect just about everything.

Link to comment

Interesting that she mentioned the nerves and feeling things in the calf region, not something I've heard talked about before. I have noticed stretches for hamstrings will often be limited to me by that tingling unpleasant feeling in the lower legs before I'm stopped by the hamstring. I was actually thinking about asking what the deal was with that phenomenon last night! I've dealt with it by not flexing the ankle when stretching laying down and when bending over while standing, to take a small step open if it's bothering. Granted when cold I can put my palms on the floor, but the hamstrings are one place I'm tight by my standards compared to the rest of me and I do want to stretch them some to keep loosened.

 

Whew enough off-topic ramble. Anecdotally, I find front extension very difficult compared to side and it feels like a lot more things can go awry making it stick around 90-100, but usually it's a weakness issue for me but can manifest feeling like things are tight, guessing stuff starts to grip and lock up to compensate for the weakness.

Link to comment

Balletlove,

She said that the muscles surrounding your spine are connected to the hamstrings at some point and basically, if those muscles are tense, then it can echo, if you will, down to the hamstrings.

 

I've also heard this from Lisa Howell, I don't know if any of you are fans of her or not, but she explains what the massage therapist was talking about pretty well in this video:

Link to comment

I wasn't sure if I had my math right, with the degrees there.... which is embarrassing, for me but anyway- I mean a full split, so to speak.

 

And you are right, it does require a penche for me to get it that way to the back and my placement does move around but I guess what I meant was the flexibility in my legs is so much better to the front and back, that I can get a full split with them.

 

When I develope to the front, the main thing that hurts first is not my hamstring but my quadricep. I somehow feel like there is a lot more gravitational pull when the leg is en devant.

 

Then, when I'm doing a barre stretch, it feels almost unbearable to keep my leg on the barre to the front, because of my hamstring, even though I've done it for many years.

 

During develope, is it acceptable to hold it at a comfortable 45 degrees for the front, and then higher to the side and the back? I have heard from some critics that you shouldn't do this if you can't keep it up on all sides, but I don't see why not utilize what extension I do have while working on the other.

Link to comment
Guess I must be weird, then, since I have equal extensions in any position. Or, had. Because I have a bad back now, the arabesque is gone, but it was there until a few years ago. The front and side extensions are still there. In fact, I really can't think of any professional level dancers I know who have any noticeable difference in their extension in any direction. :shrug:

 

Ginnia, let's rethink the idea of 180º degree extensions. The only way that happens to the back would be in a penché, and to the front I don't think there is any way to get a rotated leg to that degree. Even side it's only done in acrobatics, where they do not have to worry about placement and rotation. :wink: I am one of those with natural flexibility and rotation, and my extensions were considered somewhat exceptional. (I was born with it, so not taking credit for that.) However, they were not 180º, nor did I want them to be! :o

 

That's something that does happen - especially if you were born with those sort of hips (I'm jealous!). But apparently, according to my anatomy books, it's not the norm. Also, in the 180 degree penche, one leg will always be turned in, in the normal folk, at least. Again, my anatomy books, backed up by the dance physiotherapist from SKD, said it's anatomically impossible to do the 180 degree penche with two turned out legs.

 

I've had tight everything for the past few weeks so in a short while I'm off to the massage therapist (neuromuscular) to get help to loosen it up. I'm going to watch that video - thanks for posting it! :-)

 

Had to add: Holy cow! I'm going to talk to my massage therapist about this. I do recall feeling more flexible after his last massage (I told him I wanted to lengthen the muscles - adding flexibility - he did it and I know it worked for more than just a few days). Wow! I may just order those DVDs after all...

Link to comment
  • Administrators

Afraid that I will have to also dispute the idea that one leg will be turned in for a 180 penché. I will say that the standing leg, if you are not holding the barre or a partner, might not be AS turned out as the extended leg, but that does not mean it is turned in. However, if you are balanced, like on pointe supported by a partner, there is no reason for the supporting leg to not be turned out.

 

I'm sure there a gazillion professional photos on youtube that would illustrate my point, however, just look at pages 48 and 50 in Classical Ballet Technique. On p.48 she is unsupported, on flat, and not all the way to 180 but in a more classical penché. On p. 50 she is in full 180, on pointe supported by partner. The supporting legs are rotated, although perhaps not as much as the extended leg. Definitely not turned in!

 

While I am certainly a proponent of teachers having knowledge of the body, and especially in how it moves, and I have studied Kinesiology, I still do not think that you can learn the rights and wrongs of ballet from an anatomy book.

Link to comment

I just looked. Yes, I see what you mean. To me, that looks "turned in" - as in not fully turned out. I witnessed a youngster with nice hips but not fully flexible ones trying to do a penche with about a 170-175 degree turnout (or rather, the supporting leg on around 85 degrees angled). She couldn't do it. She was actually twisting at the knee trying. I told her not to try to be so turned out because anatomically, it wasn't possible. She could easily do 180 degree penche (yes, I'm jealous of her, too! LOL!) with the leg about a third of that. The raised leg was at the 90 degree mark, though. :-)

 

And I'm still jealous of your hips....

 

The massage released the tension. He started with the neck, just like Lisa Howell demonstrated in the video (no, he has not seen it, nor did I describe it). I felt the legs relax immediately. He said that right there at the base of the neck starts the "neural pathways" (I think he meant the reachable ones!) so massaging there WOULD release tension below, assuming there's nothing incredibly tense below it.

 

My calves feel SO much better! :-)

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...