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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Should my hips feel like this?


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I've always had both front splits but have been waaaayyy far off the ground for middle splits. My straddle is also embarrassing. Lol. 

I have been trying to prove to myself that I can do the middle splits so I have been doing a lot of hip/turn out related stretches. I have been stretching for probably 2 hours today. 

Well, now my hips are very sore, I have never stretched them this much so I don't know if this is normal. I don't know if there are muscles in the hips so I don't know if it's a bone pain, a muscle pain, or I pulled something, or I injured myself. 

It hurts to walk and it hurts when I'm just sitting here (like now). Probably the best words to describe it would be burning, and dull. And it's on the outside-ish area of my hips. 


Thoughts? Good? Normal? Bad? Injury? Let me know your initial thoughts. Thanks:)

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Why do you need so desperately to do a middle split? A split is simply a stretch. 

A middle split and a straddle is reliant on hip type. Deep set hips like mine, and maybe yours have a very hard time getting into this position. My middle split and all positions like this are not great either. Even my lotus position is poor compared to most dancers. Many dancers have shallow hips  

Why not work with what you’ve got?

I ended up getting hip labral tears and recently had to have surgery on both sides because of being born with hips which are not made for a lot of these ballet positions 

Just be careful!


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3 hours ago, breebop said:

I have been stretching for probably 2 hours today. 

Well, now my hips are very sore, I have never stretched them this much so I don't know if this is normal.

This isn't normal, because stretching one area of your body for 2 hours isn't normal! Or safe. You're setting yourself up for potentially serious or chronic injury.

The best way to develop flexibility is through function. Middle splits are pointless unless they are functional (and the same for front splits). That is, unless you can use your flexibility - and that comes from developing flexibility and strength together through slow careful work.

If you want to do more than, say, 3 or 4 good ballet classes a week, yoga can be great for adults to challenge their flexibility. I find that it challenges me to bring strength, flexibility and my breath and balance together.

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Miss Persistent

Thoughts? Not normal, bad, potential injury and muscle damage done I’m sorry to say....

There are lots of myths about flexibility, how to get your splits, the best ways of getting higher legs etc etc but regardless of what approach you take you must ALWAYS listen to your body! Pain is the way your body tells you that you’re hurting it.

There is a difference between a stretching sensation, and pain. Pain is never good when tying to increase flexibility.  It is also important you educate yourself about what you are stretching, why, and how.  The body is a complex structure and if you’re unsure about what it is you’re even trying to stretch you’re opening yourself up for trouble.

I would suggest if you are still in pain in 48 hours you probably need to consult a doctor or expert to find out what damage you have done. There are no shortcuts to flexibility - just patience, small increments over time, and the right method for each body.  There are some threads on good and safe ways to increase flexibility. While you rest and heal have a browse through to find a method that might work for you, and when your muscles have recovered, start slowly, be persistent and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

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Hey guys. 

Just wanted to clarify: I was not stretching for 2 hours straight nor was I doing intense stretches or stretching to the point of pain. 


Thank you for all of your replies! 

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Thank you for your opinion, however, that didn't answer my question. 

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You are very, very sore due to this stretching. Recommend you do Epsom salts baths, some icing, etc. I also have tighter hips now but never stretch that way until I’m thoroughly warmed up either through gym exercise or ballet class. I have had that type of soreness. It very likely WILL go away, but you need to really rest easy for a time. A massage might also help. It’s not just the hips; you could have overstretched the sacrum area (or crunched it, depending on how you stretched). Foam rolling may also help. 

No stretching that way for quite a while, and when you do, make sure you are thoroughly warmed.

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4 hours ago, Miss Persistent said:

just patience, small increments over time, and the right method for each body

Excellent expert advice from Miss Persistent! My teacher (trained in dance science as well as an ex-professional) tells us that stretching needs to be slow over time because of what stretching does to your body. Stretching to develop what physiotherapists call "hyperflexibility"  - into things like splits and so on, requires tiny tiny tears in the muscles. The muscle gets these miniscule tears, but heals longer. Stretching to this level in the middle of class, for example between the barre & centre, is now seen by dance scientists as harmful to the purpose of class - which is to develop strength and flexibility together.

What does your teacher advise, BreeBop? How many ballet classes do you do a week, and what stretches does your teacher give you? That might help us to advise you further. 

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It wasn't clear from your post, but please make sure you are fully warmed up before you start stretching.  Stretching for 2+ total hours, not in a row, makes me think that this likely wasn't the case. At any rate, I agree with Miss Persistent's advice that you should stop whatever it is you are doing, and if the discomfort does not go away within 48-72 hours, you should see a doctor or a physical therapist.

I also want to reinforce Redbookish's point that strength and flexibility have to go hand in hand, and that stretching without developing the necessary strength to use that flexibility is counterproductive and can lead to injury.  For what it is worth, I am currently dealing with a bunch of hip issues that seem to have resulted from a serious strength and flexibility imbalance between the front & back of my hip, and it is actually the strengthening exercises given by my physical therapist that have been making the most difference (and I think the strengthening has - perhaps counterintuitively - been helping my flexibility increase too).  Pushing solely for flexibility is often counterproductive, and it's important not to neglect the strength component.

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14 hours ago, athena_wiles said:

serious strength and flexibility imbalance between the front & back of my hip

Commiserations! I get this too, although more in the glutes & hamstrings. My physiotherapist says that dancers can become very imbalanced in this way, not helped by being hyperflexible (I told him my flexibility was only 'normal' for a dancer, although 'hyper' for a normal person :P).

So before I do any exercise (running, weightlifting or ballet) I have a series of glute activating exercises to do (one legged glute bridges, with a theraband around my knees). They are tough - but I can now do about 3 sets of 12 on each leg, and my supporting leg on each side feels much more stable. I'm also doing a weekly workout (aka torture session) with a personal trainer, who's teaching me to do fairly hard core weight lifting: and my ballet has never been stronger - I'm up on my leg more often than not, can turn more freely, and have noticed an increase in flexibility along with core strength.

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