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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Poor Flexibility


ballerinomom

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ballerinomom

My almost 11 year old DS, who started ballet training in Sept. 2010 (3.5 hours per week) continues to have very poor flexibility (as do a number of other boys in his class). He can't touch his toes, arch back or lift his leg very high off the ground. I find it interesting that no one at his school is asking him to work on his flexibility. What experiences do other have in terms of flexbility training for young boys? Should I wait it out and see what happens or be proactive?

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Victoria Leigh

Flexibility, when not natural, can take a long time to develop. His teachers need to help him to learn what to work on and how to work on it. Also when to work on it. Flexibility stretches require the body to be well warmed up first.

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ballerinomom

In his class, there is a 30 minute warm up with some stretching at the end, but I haven't seen much improvement this year. I am going to speak to his teacher so he can get started working on his flexibility outside class. He has 2 months before the SI starts. Maybe he will be able to touch his toes by then!

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You said your son was 11. Is he starting to develop? My ds who has been dancing since he was 4 went through a stretch where he lost flexibility. It was when his legs were growing the fastest about 11 or 12. (couldn't touch his toes for over a year when his arms caught up. SI teacher said he was in his ugly duckling phase) He like most boys is not natural flexible so he has to do stretches after a warm up daily just to maintain his flexibility.

 

 

 

 

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ballerinomom

He has never been flexible. He is at the top of the chart in terms of height but has been growing fairly evenly - no particularly big growth spurt at present or in the past year or so. It looks like he is going to have to work hard to get to an acceptable level. To my eye, it is his back that is particularly stiff, which seems to have an impact in a number of areas, including toe touching. I posed the question because I am concerned that he is going to miss a window of opportunity during these young years to gain flexibility. There are some boys in his class who did not start out particularly flexible but have gained amazing flexibility through a few years of competitive dance training, which of course my DS did not do. I will see what his teacher says this weekend.

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My son started out super flexible when he started dancing at 8 but as he has gotten older (he's 10 now) he has lost a bit of flexibility in his splits (he used to be able to do center splits perfectly, right splits really well after warming up, and left splits fairly well). But he has grown quite a bit in height in the past two years. His teachers have explained to parents of both boys and girls that when kids go through growth spurts they tend to lose some flexibility but will get it back as their body adjusts to their new height.

 

Now my son has gotten an extremely flexible back just from the routine exercises at the barre but he also takes 7 hours of ballet each week. They also have a little bit of time in each class before they work on leaps where they do some stretching on the floor and work on their splits after they have had plenty of time to warm up. My son is a bit frustrated with his splits but he spends so much time at dance that he doesn't have much time to work on flexibility at home. Does your son have any time at home to work in his flexibility? I wasn't the most flexible dancer when I was younger so I used to stretch and work on my splits when I watched TV. I never had a flexible back - I have no idea where my son got his!!

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ballerinomom

I was able to speak to my son's technique teacher for a few minutes after class. She had him lie on his back and she raised each leg and asked him point out when/where it started to hurt. He repeatedly pointed to the area behind his knees. Her suggestion was that in addition to his usual stretching, he do a particular fascial stretch, which she then showed him how to do (it is an edge of a chair stretch with flexed feet and quite a bit of movement - hard to describe really). She didn't say anything about his stiff back. Anyway, we will see if it helps!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone- am new to all this but enjoying the conversation already! My 13 year old has had terrible

flexibility after about 4 years of training. This has improved lately by taking him to a Bowen therapist

who worked on the 'tightness' in his body generally (dont ask me to explain- it is all part of their thing)

and it improved right away. Nothing amazing but it has helped. Also he does some stretching on his

non-dance days, he attends a stretch class at the studio and works on 'proper' stretch technique.

You can reach for your feet all day but if you dont do it properly nothing changes. My other suggestion

is to go to a physio to measure his flexibility and get a program for him- they should teach him how to stretch

for say hamstrings (the worst usually) and then measure him when he comes back. That seems to really

motivate them, to have something tangible to improve on.

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ballerinomom

Thank you for sharing this information with me. I will do some Bowen Therapy research - sounds very interesting!

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  • 1 month later...

You said your son was 11. Is he starting to develop? My ds who has been dancing since he was 4 went through a stretch where he lost flexibility. It was when his legs were growing the fastest about 11 or 12. (couldn't touch his toes for over a year when his arms caught up. SI teacher said he was in his ugly duckling phase) He like most boys is not natural flexible so he has to do stretches after a warm up daily just to maintain his flexibility.

 

Ditto that. Ds started at age 12. Just had a big growth spurt and he lost both flexibility and some of the muscle bulk (well, what little he had) when he grew. He also thinned out a lot even though he was cramming food down his throat all day! LOL! He is just now getting back the flexibility he lost. It takes time and dedication. Meaning, I have to remind him to work on his flexibility at home daily! We have a deal that he can watch t.v. ONLY if he does frog stretch, stands on releve, or leans over in straddle stretch etc. or does stretching routine while watching. All of these have improved since implementing this rule! Imagine that... Not that he has much time for t.v., but mostly he can only watch on days he has no dance, so those are the days he gets the extra stretching in, so it works out perfectly.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello, I am a little late responding to this topic. My son started ballet at 7 years old. He could do his splits on his right side to the floor, but not on his left side. He couldn't do the middle splits either. This past summer he attended his first SI at the age of 10 and he was about the same. Since he came home from the SI he has decided that he needs to get his splits mastered. He has stretched every night and can now do both sides to the floor and his middle are a fraction off the ground. He has worked really hard and I am very proud of him. He is determined to get into the same SI again next summer and then, hopefully, gain a spot in the professional program for grade 6. I believe he is naturally a little more flexible that some of the other boys, as he has a flexible back as well, but he definitely has to work very hard and keep doing the exercises every day.

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I am so relieved this seems to be a problem for many boys. DS, aged 12, cannot touch his toes either. I talked to the instructor in his exercise last night and she commented about how DS isn't naturally flexible and how glad she was he was coming in for her class. He stretches nightly at home even on class days. He does seem to be growing at the moment so I won't get discouraged yet, but it can be hard to watch.

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hi chel- we used to work on flexibility at home religiously but DS grew tired of it as he so no perceptible improvement. He didn't do anything for a couple of years other than go to dance class. Now he is 14yo and out of the blue, it seems to be improving. I don't mean he can do the splits (that will be the day!) but his lower back and hamstrings are much better than before. This is inexplicable to me but a v welcome improvement! His male teacher says that it is all about balance between limbs and muscles length and calm steady persistence. So there is light at the end of that dark tunnel!! :)

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