CriticalDance Forum

Flexibility frustration!!
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Author:  Dancer246 [ Wed Oct 05, 2005 2:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Flexibility frustration!!

Hello everybody at CD..long time no speak :D
I'm so frustrated at the moment because my flexibility is so "up & down" all of the time. I've been doing my best to stretch everyday conducting a number of stretches aiming to do the splits..and I've been doing this for quite a while now but it doesn't seem to be improving.

I'm not expecting it to come overnight because that's not realistic but a visible improvement would boost my confidence so much. I'm not the most flexible person and I know I have to work hard to keep it but even missing one day of stretching puts my progress back..and sometimes stretching EVERY day is just not practical !!

Has anyone got any stretches that will improve my flexibility or words of wisdom to bring my mood up a bit??
Anything is appreciated :D
Love dancer 246 xx

Author:  Alex R [ Thu Oct 06, 2005 11:17 am ]
Post subject: 

I second all of the above, HELP!


Author:  ballerina91 [ Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:27 pm ]
Post subject:  I feel your pain.

I empathize with both of you.
I stretched every day for three months straight and got NOWHERE! Very frustrating, so I gave up. I want to start up again, but I could use a good success story right about now to motivate me. Any suggestions would be nice.
Nice to know someone has the same problem! Sorry, but misery does love campany ;)[/i]

Author:  Sushi [ Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

I am not very flexible either and completly understand all of your frustrations.

I tend to be more flexible in my hips than my back and always assumed that flexibility is some magical innate talent that some people have and some don't. Although some people are more natually limber, we are not without hope.

My little discovery started when I was working with my instructor on "winging" my foot for coupes, arabesque, and attitudes. When she tried to shape my foot I would always say, "I am just not that flexible" as I could barely do a wraped coup de pied at the time.

One day she pulled me aside and had me sit with my legs straight in front of me, toes pointed. She had me wing my foot as much as I could. Then she said look at your leg around the outside of the knee. What I saw was my muscles moving back and forth winging my foot. She said although winging the foot may come easier fot someone more flexible, you can strengthen your muscles to achieve the same thing. It maybe a lot more effort in the begining, but as your muscles gets stronger and the muscle-memory increase, you will be able to wing your foot every time.

This little tidbit changed my whole preception of flexibility. Rather thinking of flexibility as being able to be the human rubberband, think of it as strengthening your muscles with repeated movements enagaging those muscles every time.

I started doing a 20-25 minute floor barre before every ballet class. And after about 6 months of 4 to 5 times a week, I can say that I noticed a remarkable difference in my hip alignment, flexibility in particular to my back and can do a split , although not very comfortibly. I don't think I am actually more flexible but rather my lower back, inner thigh muscles, and glutes are just stronger to hold what needs to be held.

I hope that was worth your time reading and was some what helpful.

Good luck and keep trying! :wink:

Author:  Dancer246 [ Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:03 am ]
Post subject: 

Alex R,'s nice to hear someone is feeling the same as me at the moment !! :D

Sushi thank you for your story, I think that is the perception of flexibility isn't it...being a human rubberband...!! So to hear that you worked on your strength within your body to improve your technique etc is a refreshing change, thank-you !!

Author:  ballerina91 [ Sat Oct 08, 2005 6:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Hamstring woes

My major problem has always been my hamstrings. They were so tight that one of my teachers said I couldn't do ballet professionally if I didn't loosen them, and I couldn't even sit in a perfect right angle without wincing.
It's better now that I take class daily, but I want my battements higher, as with fondu, etc. etc.
I used to do about five stretches every night for long periods of time, but I did not getting anywhere. I know it's a long process, but like I said above, I did this for three months straight and NOTHING!!!
Does anyone have a workout plan that WORKS???
Thanks ever so much for listening to me whine about my hamstring woes!

Author:  Joanne [ Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:25 am ]
Post subject: 

Can I just ask you all when you are stretching i.e is it early on or later in a class? When you are stretching on your own what are doing to prepare for the stretching? Are you just stretching on your own or are you having supervision to make sure the stretches are being done for maximum benefit?

Author:  Joanne [ Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:42 am ]
Post subject: 

Ballerina91 you mention battements? Presumably grand battements, battements en cloche?

Have you thought more of lengthening rather than stretching the hamstrings? It is quite easy when performing grand battements to tense the hamstring rather than stretch it thus hindering height. As you lift the leg visualise the muscle lengthening rather than any great effort to lift the leg. Developpe can also assist in this. As you do your unfold part think of that muscle really stretching out and then try and apply this to your battements.

Also think of your abdominal muscles. Are you using those efficiently so that they are not hindering the progress of the working leg?

We can sometimes get so hung up on flexibiltiy that all we think of to improve is stretching. Sometimes it can also be other factors.

Author:  ballerina91 [ Mon Oct 10, 2005 7:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

Lengthening not stretching, huh? I have a very proper sense of what that means, I think, but let me make sure.
You think of the muscle getting longer, reaching out, and staying out, so to speak. Is that correct?
I am also not sure what you mean by abdominal muscles. Do you mean keeping alignment, such as back flat, tummy in, shoulders square, hips tucked, etc.?
I also have another question. I thought for the longest time that if you could do a split, your extension would be higher. However, I have seen girls who can do splits and straddles, and my leg is as high as theirs is. Do you know why that is so?
All help much appreciated.

Author:  Joanne [ Tue Oct 11, 2005 2:22 am ]
Post subject: 

I think lengthening is always a good image to apply and the staement you gave is quite correct. When doing stretches anyway we should be thinking of lengthening into stretches as damage can be done if we don't first lengthen into stretches, this applies more with any stretches involving the back and areas around it, which is going off topic, but the thought behind it is the same. If muscles are compressed and not lengthened enough when stretching then tightness can occur and you will build bulk and not flexibility. I don't think I've explained that very well but it is reasonably early here and I have a cold!

When doing your grand battements instead of concentrating on height next time think about the shape your leg is making as it sweeps through the air. Is it fully extended? Or are you concentrating so much on height that perhaps the extension is not as good as you could make it? Although this will not solve the problem of flexibility it will make the grand battement of a better quality and will assist in gaining height and also in looking of greater height. If the leg is not fully extended then even with good flexibility it won't look as high and as good as a leg with a better extension.

As far as abdominals are concerned - again what you say is correct maintaining good prosture will certainly help. In "The Classic Ballet" by Lincoln Kirstein (a great book by the way) it says that when performing Grand Battement you should "draw abdomen in and lift diaphragm". Again this is relating to good posture but think about this next time you try Grand battement - it is easy to get bogged down with what the leg is doing that there may be thinks going on higher up that are restricting the height.

You should also continue with your stretches but hopefully a combination of all of the above will help. Have you spoken to your teacher - he/she can see you in class and may have some more suggestions.

As far as splits are concerned well gravity certainly assists here where as it doesn't on grand battement. Also when doing the splits you have the floor as support with grand battement you are supported by one leg and are also having to think about posture, turnout, placement etc. That is why some people who can do the splits don't always have great extensions. Great extensions are not just about flexibility.

I hope that in some ways helps. It perhaps give you a couple of other things to think about. but do speak to your teacher as well.

Author:  ballerina91 [ Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Why thank you Joanne. I had not thought of all the above. I have class in a couple of hours, so I will definately remember all you have said. I understand what you meant when you said bulk and not flexibility.
Good point about the gravity, and I will certainly think of my abdominals (I noticed I do have the tendancy for rounding into my leg) for Grand Battement, as well as a straighter not higher leg. I am sure the advice will help.
I have already spoken to my teacher, and she added to her syllabis two hamstring stretches to the middle of each class to help.
Thank you, Joanne. I am sure this will help.

Author:  Alex R [ Wed Oct 12, 2005 7:41 am ]
Post subject: 

does anyone know any books/websites etc. that show helpful stretches as i don't take ballet classes and i stretch on my own, so for all I know I could be doing the wrong stretches!

Author:  Joanne [ Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

Alex R - I think what you need to do first is speak to your teacher. You should not be stretching alone if you are not entirely sure that what you are doing is right. Stretching incorrectly can do a lot of damage to the muscles and as we have dicsussed above can create bulk rather than strength and flexibility.

Sorry I don't want to sound heavy but I don't want you to injure yourself and effect your flexibility negatively.

There is one book on stretching which I have heard is very good - Stretching Without Pain by Paul Blakeley. But please consult with your teacher asap as we have said many times before although books can help to reinforce learning they are no substitute for a teacher.

I hope this helps.

Author:  Alex R [ Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

unfortunately i don't have a teacher (yet) though i do want to find one. I am taking breakdance classes though which my uni run and the teacher is pretty flexible so i'll ask her.
thanks for the book title, i'll be sure to look into that.

Author:  ballerina91 [ Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:54 pm ]
Post subject: 

Alex R, just out of curiosity, what style of dance are you looking for a teacher in? Oh, and another question, what is breakdancing?

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