Forum: General / General

Needing help with "pulling up"
By kinsidhe Comments: 253, member since Fri May 14, 2010
On Sun Jul 16, 2017 09:47 AM


I am looking for help with understanding how to 'pull up' or 'lift my hips' or 'not sink or sit into my hips'. I am a highland dancer and have very little training in anything like ballet or pilates etc etc.

My teacher is telling me I am not pulling up or that I am sitting in my hips, sticking out my bum or sinking etc. She has said that when she tells me to pull up I do-but my trouble is I dont know what I am doing! I can't feel a difference. When I think I am straight I am not. When she says it is better I feel like I am falling backwards. I think it is worse when I have to bend my supporting leg while keeping my heel off the floor, while keeping everything turned out.

I am not sure how to correct this, work on it, etc because I am not sure what is right, how it should feel, or look. I think I need a visual or mental cue, a way of thinking about it or a way to focus my attention where it needs to be.

I suspect my tight hip flexors have something to do with the issue. I believe my upper back, shoulders are alright but something is going wonky from the ribs on down. I do have a lot of low back pain and tightness and also just below my ribs in my back. I have noticed my left hip does tend to sink when I am extending my right leg, it doesn't seem to hold true the other way around, my right hip stays straight if I am extending my left leg. My left leg has a harder time turning out, it is also the one that currently has pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalagia). Any help is welcome.


5 Replies to Needing help with "pulling up"

re: Needing help with "pulling up" (karma: 1)
By marginalia Comments: 16, member since Tue Apr 11, 2017
On Sun Jul 16, 2017 08:29 PM
Hi there! I'm a beginner ballet and Highland dancer, so take my advice with a grain of salt-- I can only offer what has helped me.

I can't help much with the hip flexibility, but I too have been known to sit into my supporting leg. A trick/visualization that helps me that I hope helps you: imagine the space between your ribs and hip bones is growing by two inches! It won't, of course (though you might get half an inch!), but I find the simple act of imagining this extension seems to help align my hips properly, elongate my back, straighten the supporting leg, and push down through supporting leg all the way into the floor, rather than sinking into it. It's a whole-body extension, just by imagining that space growing by a few inches upward! (Credit where it's due: I saw this in a YouTube video but I can't remember which one; all I can say is that it's amazing.)

Re: sticking your butt out, I hope the previous trick helps somewhat because it is asking your body to move up. Another trick that helps me: imagine your tailbone, while you're still pulling your torso up, is pointing straight down into the ground. It's a subtle shift rather than thinking about "rotating your hips", which I find I overcorrect on.

Recommendation: if you can and are not currently doing so, do exercises to strengthen your core (which also includes your back). Your dance teacher or a physical therapist should have healthy recommendations that should avoid aggravating your pain, so you can build up those muscles to support the hips, and may actually help with reducing your pain in the future. (Though tight hips can be a huge problem in a lot of places down the line, messing with your lower back and various leg muscles. Perhaps a PT or dance flexibility class could help! A PT may find out the root cause is something else entirely, what with the hip bone being connected to the leg bone and all that.)

Hope this helps!
re: Needing help with "pulling up"
By kinsidhe Comments: 253, member since Fri May 14, 2010
On Mon Jul 17, 2017 07:53 AM
Thank you Marginalia!

This is helpful. I work better with a mental picture or a way to focus my intention. These suggestions sound good to me. I've never thought about pushing down with my legs, just 'pulling up' which leaves me feeling wobbly. I was just practicing the feeling of it and realised I dont really engage my inner thigh/leg much at all.

Thank you for taking the time to reply I really appreciate it!
re: Needing help with "pulling up"
By marginalia Comments: 16, member since Tue Apr 11, 2017
On Mon Jul 17, 2017 08:02 AM
Oh of course! I am mostly a lurker here on but sometimes I feel like I have something productive to add : )

"Pushing down into the floor" and its cousin, "press through all your toes" are pretty common mantras in ballet studios, from what I gather, having been a beginner in four studios in two states! I'm glad this helps!
re: Needing help with "pulling up" (karma: 1)
By ShadowLunaCatPremium member Comments: 8822, member since Sun Sep 12, 2004
On Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:24 AM
Hi, found the following links that might help with "pulling up the hips": . . .

"Practice in front of the mirror, 2nd, 3rd rear aer, 2nd, 3rd aer, using alternate feet and with arms in 1st. The arms should recognise the movement of the hips and, with lots of practise, you may be able to correct the hip alignment. It may be a case of holding/pushing down the arm in 1st pos while the leg is raised until you get the hang of it and then adjusting the pressure of the arms until the leg is right. "

" In regard to your hip raising up. One of the major stabilizers of the hip, but certainly not the only one, is called the gluteus medius. It sounds to me as though you are pulling too hard with this muscle whenever you are shedding, or whatever. This muscle is found on the outside edge of your hip. To figure out what this muscle does, stand in front of a dance bar or chair and hold on for balance with equal weight on both feet. Keeping your knees together, lift your right foot off of the ground and don't let your hips tilt. Now let your right hip drop down. By doing this, you are relaxing the LEFT gluteus medius. Now try to hike your RIGHT hip up. By doing this you are now contracting your LEFT gluteus medius. I would suggest you stand on one foot and practice lowering and raising the opposite hip to get a feel for how to control this muscle. Basically, you need to maintain some contraction of this muscle, but only enough to keep your hips parallel. In my experience, I have found that, almost without exception, dancers tend to under use this muscle. This results in the working hip dropping, usually on each landing from a hop or spring. In your case, it sound as though you are the exception to the rule and are over using the muscle. This may not help with your body as there are many factors involved with "wiggly" bodies. "

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re: Needing help with "pulling up"
By kinsidhe Comments: 253, member since Fri May 14, 2010
On Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:33 AM

Gosh! This was really lovely of you to find for me. It gives me another way to look at it and some great exercises to try!

Thank you for taking the time, I really appreciate it.

I've been doing a lot of psoas releasing and that has seemed to help a bit. Reading through these I do think I under-utilise most of my glutes! (lazy bum syndrome?-haha!)