WHAT TO DO WITH KNEE HYPER-EXTENSION?
Good leg line is one of the ultimate goals in many forms of dance and road to achieve it can be as varied as the individuals who dance. There is no doubt that we are all as varied and as individual as snowflakes. The answer for one will not necessarily be the answer for all. Hyper-extension is not that tricky really and we need to ensure that we learn to work with body we have to help it achieve its ultimate true potential.
The knee is amazing joint and really quite vulnerable. The femur sits quite freely on top of the Tibia and Fibula and relies on the ligaments, muscles and tendons to keep it all in place and working in good order. The ideal alignment for a knee is with the optimum space between the bones of the joint. This can translate to optimum height for the dancer. Once the dancer starts to shrink, the knee has gone past its optimum range and will impact on correct muscle recruitment throughout the body. A knee that is allowed to sit in hyper-extension will cause the effect of pushing the head of the femur forward in the hip socket. This in turn will increase the Lordotic curve of the lumbar spine.
So the debate is what to do with the hyper-extension? Whilst I was a young student, it was considered good practice to allow a dancer with hyper-extension to stand in 1st position with their feet further apart so that they could fully stretch their knee. Unfortunately, this can lead to many young dancers further increasing the laxity of their ligaments as the knees strain towards each other. Dancers can learn to straighten their legs without locking back into hyper-extension and standing in 1st position without locking back is a great starting place to learn this.
But hyper-extension to a degree is not such a bad thing. A little hyper-extension does create a much nicer leg line and is necessary to be able to get up on pointe successfully. There is a little muscle at the back of the knee called the Popliteal which can be released and stretched which can improve range if it is tight. All knee stretches must be executed with care and never to extreme and definitely should not cause any pain. A ligament once over-stretched will NEVER tighten!
If you have knee issues or would like some help with your technique book an appointment today in our Pilates studio at our school holidays special rate of only $40 for your Initial Consult.