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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Stretch for back of knee


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I don't want to limit this to the dancers under 13 discussion, but I was unable to find anything related to this under a search. Can anyone offer any insight into young DD who needs to work on stretching behind the knee? Essentially DD has issues with her leg looking elongated in arabesque, leaps, etc. even though it is straight. DD has a lot more growing to do, but I would like to hear others who have or have dealt with similar issues. She does some stretching with her knee extended, foot flexed and visualizing her knee touching the ground. Thanks

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My DD has seen a great ballet focused PT for a hamstring tendon pull. One exercise she does involves sitting with one leg bent under her, other leg outstretched in front. It is a nice "soft" behind knee hamstring muscle base stretch without being an "overstretch" if that makes sense. I hope I'm explaining this decently. My DD has the benefit of receiving photo exercises after PT. If you haven't done so already, someone who is familiar with ballet dancers and also a PT might be helpful?

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Thanks so much, Spencedance. I'm thinking that may be a familiar stretch she does. I guess I'm just wondering if this is something she can actually change with stretching, or if this is just how her leg is and unable to change? Surely this isn't uncommon?

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My DD has tight hamstrings, and used to really look as if she wasn't straightening her legs/knees when she swore she was. I have noticed a real difference since she's been working some specific back of knee/hamstring/core exercises with this PT. I am not educated in the area enough to know why, but the things she's been doing over the past 5 weeks to rehab the injury and now strengthen the area have seemed to have the side benefit of straightening the look of her legs.

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Wow that is a wonderful plus for your daughter after the negatives of injury and pain! Thanks for sharing, Spencedance. This is good to hear.

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DD got the correction to stretch her legs/straighten her knees for quite a long time when she was younger. I can remember asking her main teacher if she thought she'd ever be able to do it. She said yes, but that it was going to take time. Sure enough, DD no longer gets that correction. No special exercises, just working on it day after day as part of ballet.

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Thanks for sharing, dancingjet. That's almost the exact wording, so it's good to know that this may be a simple developmental issue that while she works on it may simply take time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is very reassuring to hear your stories. My DD gets the same correction - her teacher also said it would take time, but it does get discouraging, especially with teachers who don't know her well.

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My Dd has improved in this area a lot this year. Things that have helped:


1. Using an Achilles stretcher (similar to this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B003QTHO1K/ref=mp_s_a_1_10_a_it?qid=1459115985&sr=8-10&keywords=achilles+stretcher).Surprisingly, using this to stretch her calves has loosened tight muscles all the way up into her back.


2. Downward dog yoga pose, trying to press her heels to the floor


3. An exercise where she flexes her feet and lifts the ball (I'm not allowed to pluralize this word, apparently!) of her feet off the floor while standing, then taps her feet on the floor


4. In middle splits, trying to straighten her legs so much that her heels lift off the floor

Edited by classicmom
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  • 10 months later...

Thank you for these suggestions, classicmom. My DD is trying them and I think they are helping her bent knee problem. She is 10 next month and also has prominent knees since her legs are still very slender. Her teacher wants her to work on stretching her legs daily so they will straighten while dancing and also so her knees will not stick out as much. She really feels the stretch in the back of the knee when doing these exercises. I am assuming it is because the muscle behind her knee is very tight? She hasn't been very diligent in stretching it out until now.

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  • 8 months later...

Ok dd is still struggling with this. She has seen a PT for Achilles issues so she’s been doing a ton of calf stretches. But one exercise they did in class last week was really discouraging to her ... legs in front or apart a little while sitting on the ground and lifting heels up off the ground. She said she’s the only one who cannot. Someone said they think it’s becsuse her legs are so skinny still - I don’t understand they seem so strong to me but they are very very lean. She blames the back of her knees and their inability to touch the ground completely. I’m hoping when she asks the strength and conditioning coach this week he can give her some insight. Curious if anyone knows what I’m talking about and if there are any particular exercises to do?

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I don’t think skinny legs would be the cause of the backs of the knees not being able to touch the ground.  Strong legs don’t necessarily touch the ground either.  Hyperextended knees would easily touch the ground, but they aren’t necessarily strong.

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