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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Knee pain


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I started ballet just about a month ago, I was supposed to start last year but had an accident and injured my leg, it's completely healed now but my right leg is less flexible than my left. Anyway as you can imagine I'm loving every moment of ballet and want to do as much as possible to improve, outside of class as well. My teacher has given me a few core strengthening and stretching exercises that i do six times a week (gotta have that day of rest!), one of which includes lying on my back with my legs up against a wall and spread apart as much as possible.


Now I KNOW that stretching is supposed to hurt, but apart from the normal stretchy pain in my thighs/groin, there is a slightly different pain in the ligaments on the inside of my knees. I didn't have it the first week or so of this exercise, and yesterday I tried spreading my legs a bit further and I think the knee pain wasn't as intense. Am I maybe resting into my knees instead of moving into my stretch? It's also a tad more noticable in my stiffer right leg.


It's not so bad that I can't do the stretch, but it's a few seconds of very intense pain when I am closing my legs and bending them and finishing the stretch. My teacher said that as long as the pain doesn't stay, I should be fine, but I just want ask here too, to make sure that I'm not doing anything to potentially hurt myself.



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We can't give medical advice here, but my main response to your question is, if it hurts that much - DON'T DO IT! Sharp pain is different from stretch discomfort (it's not really pain). Flexibility in adults needs to develop slowly, and the stretch you're describing is a good passive stretch but tough - the anatomy of our legs and pelvic girdle is complex.


As an adult dance student, you need mobility - that is, flexibility you can use. So passive stretching is one thing, but you need to build muscle strength and even more importantly muscle memory (proprioception). If you've only been doing classes for a month, you are still a very very beginner. And this is when you can injure yourself or your body can unconsciously "learn" the wrong habits.


Have a look at this thread:




for some excellent discussion of the complexities of stretching. I found the posts really helpful. The discussion of the balance between strength and stretch, and the way that stretching actually breaks muscle fibre is really important.

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okay I will take a look, thank you! :)

Edited by Redbookish
Edited to remove repetition of preceding post - no need to quote it. Please just use 'Reply to this topic'
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My suggestion is that you find a professional who really understands muscular and soft tissue issues in the legs. This could be a physical therapist, an osteopath, a massage therapist...in my case it is a chiropractor slash physiotherapist who is amazing. The degree/training matters less than the actual person and her/his experience and skill.


What you need is a diagnosis from someone who lays hands on you (that part is vital). If you know exactly what you're dealing with, that will tell you (with the professional's advice) how far you can push it and how to fix it.


Some pain is safe to work with and some means back off immediately. You can't always tell by the type of pain. A diagnosis and description of what's happening in your leg will help you navigate this.


Good luck and I hope things improve soon so you can focus on your ballet!

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Thanks for the replies! I tried some different stretches yesterday, one leg at a time, and noticed that I feel a similar pain (but not sharp at all) when doing that, although only in my right knee exactly where there is a long deep scar from my operation in September, so....... I suppose my injury is definitely what's causing problems here. Will speak to the Physiotherapist at my hospital :)

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