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Ballet Talk for Dancers

fouette/ hip flexor pain


Alysserina

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Hello to all :)

 

My question pertains to fouette pirouettes. I'm training to take my advanced two exam (RAD) this coming spring and am working to try and get my fouette pirouettes en pointe. The problem is that the fouette rond de jambe motion seems to irritate my rectus femoris tendon (the specific tendon has been diagnosed by a chiropractor). I've been able to isolate the painful motion to the devlope devant (sorry if this is the wrong term) when I'm coming out of each pirouette. I never had this sort of pain/ problem when I was training for my advanced 1 examination. At the height of my pain, I could not extend the affected leg to second position (en l'aire).

 

I'm wondering how to grip less with the hip flexor of the gesturing leg when coming out of each pirouette. My current teacher has said that she doesn't feel tension/ pain in her hip flexor when doing the fouettes.

 

I am having a chiropractor treat the affected tendon. I however do not know how to prevent this from happening again. I've begun training my other leg to fouette, and I can feel the same sorts of aching and stiff/ tightness starting in the left rectus femoris tendon that I had been feeling in my right.

 

Any help/ advice would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thank you!!!

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  • Administrators

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Alysserina. :)

 

While this is sort of a medical problem, your question is really more about the technique of the fouetté pirouette itself. I would like to transfer the question to Young Dancers 13-16 or 17-22, or the Adult Student Forum, however, since you are new and this is your first post, I don't know where you fit in terms of your age. If you would respond and give us that information, we can move this post and our Teacher Moderators will respond.

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Hi Miss Leigh,

 

I was originally a bit torn as to where I should properly place this post.

 

The best place for this would be the adult forum as I am 27.

 

Thank you very kindly,

 

Alysserina :)

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Alysserina, how high is your leg when you développé front? Are you sure that the pain is from that action and not the rond de jambe of the leg to the side? Where are you opening the leg in front, to croisé or en avant? When you retiré where exactly is your foot arriving ? (There are different versions of fouettés, which is why I am asking these questions.)

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When I devlope to the front I would say that my leg is probably at about 60 degrees (relative to where my 90 degree extension would be). I also try to keep it at a level height throughout the fouette - a 60 degree extension allows this based on where my foot is in my retire. My foot is in retire position during the turn - it is never placed to the back of my knee at any time.

 

I was taught to do fouettes with an extension en avant, however my current teacher is trying to get me to cross that extension a bit. While I understand the purpose of crossing the extension, I quite often don't end up doing it as my muscles remember the way that I was taught. My current teacher is also trying to get me to raise my leg in both my extension en avant and during the fouette action to the side.

 

Now that you ask, the pain could be happening during the fouette action to the side. I'm finding it hard to isolate exactly what the problematic component is. I am however certain that it is fouettes causing the pain.

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I think it is most likely the action of the front to side rotation. However, at 60º, I'm not sure why that would happen. If you are the barre, or center, and do a développé en avant and rond de jambe en l'air to the side, does that cause pain at the same height? What about at 90º? Are your hips particularly tight in terms of your rotation and extensions?

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I don't think that my extensions are particularly tight. I do have tight tendons in my hips, but not in the sense that they limit my flexibility - more in the sense probably from such repetitive use (my chiropractor is continually astounded by how flexible I am). That being said, I do not have 180 degree turnout (I'm probably at about 150-ish degrees) and my second position en l'aire follows this same trajectory (about 150-ish degrees). My current teacher really wants the fouette to hit a perfect second before the turn starts, so opening beyond what my hips naturally allow for could be one explanation. I also find it really hard and uncomfortable to extend my devlope to a crossed position. Whether I'm extending at 60 or at 90 doesn't seem to matter.

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I'm wondering if your hip flexors are being loaded due to a lack of deep core strength as you are working en l'air in quite a demanding movement. If your core is not correctly supporting the extension, it could load up the quads and front of the hip.

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Hi Miss Persistent,

 

Loading through my hip flexors due to lack of usage of my core is something which I have considered. I do not believe that is the case. I'm always pulling up and contracting my abdominal muscles, and contracting them more doesn't ease the pain. I'm going to try experimenting further with the pirouettes again when I'm in class on Friday, to test whether the pain is resulting from fouette-ing past where my second position en l'aire naturally is. I don't have perfect turn out, so it seems reasonable that forcing my extension in second could be causing the pain and problems I'm having. In all my adage extensions or during pirouettes in second position I don't have this problem, but my leg is also being held where my hips naturally allow my second position to be.

 

Thank you for the suggestion though - it's definitely something that I'm mindful of.

 

:)

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Are you a pelvic-tucker? Usually this type of pain is related to something that is being overloaded somewhere else, causing a relative weakness and imbalance. Sometimes the pain will not manifest during less-strenuous work, but rears its ugly head when being placed in a situation where the imbalance has no choice but to be felt.

 

I think it may be time to see a PT instead of a chiro.

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Hi Miss Persistent,

 

Loading through my hip flexors due to lack of usage of my core is something which I have considered. I do not believe that is the case. I'm always pulling up and contracting my abdominal muscles, and contracting them more doesn't ease the pain.

 

I would second Clara's suggestion of a PT either instead of or in conjunction with a Chiro.

 

My thoughts were no with your abdominals as such, more with your psoas and adductors (and maybe glutes) supporting the pelvic girdle - I also second Clara's thoughts that it does sound like a weakness/imbalance issue. If it was just an over extension I would expect the pain to manifest more locally in the adductors. If the pelvis is not deeply supported properly the hip flexors and superficial abdominals can engage to pick up the slack.

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Thank you for the suggestion, but I've already been to see a PT. She was stumped and actually, everything that she did served to only make the pain worse. She couldn't seem to get at the root of the problem (the why) or be able to help the injured/ irritated area heal. I then went to see a chiro, as I've always had alot of success with them. She figured out that it is my rectus femoris tendon that has become super tight, and there's actually been ALOT of scar tissue laid down in that tendon. She is doing a technique (Graston) to remove the scar tissue. All of this originally happened in my right leg. Since starting to re-train my left leg to fouette, my left leg has been getting sore in exactly the same way the right did.

 

She was able to isolate that it is only the rec. fem. tendon affected because it was only my extensions a la seconde which were super painful, and the pain is exactly where that tendon is. I just don't understand why fouettes have become such a problem (in terms of pain) for me when they have never been that way historically. (Before I switched to trying to perfect the technique my current teacher wants, I was pain free when doing them - I had been doing them last winter and spring without pain.) It's possible that the new technique has thrown off my old mechanics, and maybe other muscles aren't engaging the way they should. I tend to have a hyperactive psoas, but adductors or glutes could be part of the problem.

 

Thanks for the input. It definitely gives me something more to think about. Actually based on all of this, can someone describe the proper way to do fouettes to me - like when each muscle is supposed to engage?

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Hi All,

 

An update: my chiropractor has continued to strip scar tissue out of my rectus femoris tendon so I can now lift my leg without pain (knock on wood that it stays that way).

 

I also went back to the physio to get her to assess my fouette pirouettes (she grew up dancing ballet). What she told me is that I'm not getting my leg to the side during my fouette motion and told me to use my glutes more. Somehow I was able to access the right gluteal muscles within that appointment, and the pirouettes felt SO different - way more controlled and there was no pain through my hip flexors. (Good on you guys for picking up the imbalance issue :) ) Since that time though I can't figure out how to get those gluteal muscles to activate, try as I might, and all I seem to be doing is aggravating my hip flexors. Does anyone have any advice on how to think about activating the glutes during the fouette?

 

Thanks in advance :)

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I'm not getting my leg to the side during my fouette motion and told me to use my glutes more. Somehow I was able to access the right gluteal muscles within that appointment, and the pirouettes felt SO different - way more controlled and there was no pain through my hip flexors. (Good on you guys for picking up the imbalance issue :) ) Since that time though I can't figure out how to get those gluteal muscles to activate, try as I might, and all I seem to be doing is aggravating my hip flexors. Does anyone have any advice on how to think about activating the glutes during the fouette?

 

We're you not getting your leg to the side because your pelvis was tipped forward or you just weren't opening the leg physically far enough?

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As far as I know, I just wasn't getting my leg far enough to the side. I'm having a really hard time trying to use my glute muscles to get my leg to go to the side (which is the verbal cuing the physio was using that eventually got me to do it properly with her) rather than using my hip flexors. And I know exactly when I use my hip flexors because they get super tight and hurt like mad afterward. :(

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