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Ballet - Adult Dancers
Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Sat May 30, 2009 11:04 PM

Hi all!

My developpe to the side is terrible and needs work. To the front and back I can get about 90 degrees, but to the side I am lucky if I can get a 45. Really lucky!

Do any of you have a specific exercise that you like to use to strengthen the muscles involved?

Thanks! :)

16 Replies to Side extension help

re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By eloisefigmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1015, member since Sat Feb 14, 2004
On Sun May 31, 2009 12:55 PM
see the arabian help post above. i just gave similar info in it.
alot to type again
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Sun May 31, 2009 03:14 PM
Hi

Thanks! I didn't even know there was a strengthening board :O)

I take it you mean this exercise? www.dance.net . . . The only thing is my hamstrings are tight, so I guess I will have to work on that, too or else I can't get high extensions anyways (this is why I put it on the adult ballet board....I'm old and creaky!) :?
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By pasdeblake Comments: 285, member since Mon Nov 17, 2008
On Sun May 31, 2009 05:09 PM
As you said, hamstring flexibility is essential for extensions. However, to have correct lalignment while doing these extensions depends on your hip flexibility, since that also dictates your turnout, which allows freedom within the hip socket to allow your leg to go up.

The best way of demonstrating how this works is to have you place an arm at your side, palm flat against your side as well. Lift your arm up until you cannot anymore, which will be ,aybe a little about 90 degrees. Now, turn your palm towards the ceiling and VOILA! Ear-high extension! Now, that may seem obvious, but it's technically the same at your hip, being that they are both ball-and-socket-joints.

So, basically, stretch out both your hamstrings AND your hips in order to have full range of motion within the socket, making extensions effortless! Kinda...;)
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By TutuU222 Comments: 1250, member since Thu Aug 14, 2008
On Sun May 31, 2009 10:29 PM
If you can get your extension to 90 degrees front and back, I would be inclined to think that you are not using your turnout while taking the extension to the side.

If you stood in parallel position and tried to lift your leg directly to the side, it wouldn't go very far because it would be like bone hitting bone. But if you stood in a turned out position, the action of the rotation of the leg (ball and socket) would allow for the additional height -- most times. Of course there are variables and everyone is different. Check to make sure that you are not taking the leg too far back in your 2nd position.

Any time you have problems with side extensions and you are able to do them front and back, it's never a bad idea to do a turnout assessment and see if that could possibly be your problem.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:34 AM
Hi TutuU222!

I actually had to get up and check my turnout when you said that LOL

My turnout is as good as I can get it for front back or side. It's not that I am physically unable (like bone on bone) but that I am just not strong enough! I literally have no strength to get and hold more than 45 degrees. I can raise my bent leg a bit higher than 90 degrees, but when I unfold my leg, it drops down and I am unable to hold it higher than 45 degrees. There's a video up on YouTube that has an exercise for side extensions, and I tried it and FAILED. Badly. You sit, kneeling, on your heels (feet parallel, not sideways, under your bum) and then you pop your working leg out to the side, turned out and pointed. Lean a little away from that leg with your hand on the floor and lift the working leg to strengthen. I couldn't lift my leg AT ALL. It's like the muscle that does that doesn't even exist on me! Hence my request for help.

Of course, all my tendons and hamstrings are very tight. I cannot do the splits (in any direction, but most especially center). This means that my extensions will never be much past 90 degrees without work on that. I'd just like my side extensions to catch up with the front and back :)

Thanks for your reply, though!
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Cat123 Comments: 41, member since Mon Nov 24, 2008
On Thu Jun 04, 2009 09:59 PM
That sounds like an interesting youtube video but I can't quite visualize it. Do you have the link or name of the video?

I am a novice, but trying it just now, I wonder if your "side" is your real side- ie, in line with your turn out. Perhaps you are trying to go too far to the side. Hard to explain!. Stand in first with your proper amount of turnout. Your "side" is in line with your foot- if your foot only points to say 60 degrees from straight ahead, that is where you should be developing to, not directly to the side. For me, if I go past my "real" side, then I can't get the leg nearly as high.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:28 PM
Hi Cat123!

Yep, the video is here: www.youtube.com . . .

You'll find the extension one somewhere in the middle. It doesn't matter where I pointe my foot out to (exact side, or less), I just don't have the strength! LOL
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By YellowFairy Comments: 418, member since Sat Jun 21, 2008
On Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:19 AM
Edited by YellowFairy (197972) on 2009-06-05 00:21:14
Ah yes, I've seen that video. While the arm under the knee exercise did help with my extension to the sides (not learned from youtube ;) ), I haven't really been taught the kneeling exercise. We do very much conditioning on flexibility in conjunction with extension work. If you can get yourself on a reformer, there are a lot of exercises that can help.

This first exercise is best done with supervision
1.) Standing on the edge of the reformer with one foot parallel (where the sandpapery grip is), place your other foot (turned out) on the bed of the reformer. It helps to have a non slip mat on the bed of the reformer so that your foot doesn't slip off. Slowly open your legs to a medium/wide (not too wide) second position by using your inner thigh muscles, controlling how the bed rolls open. Hold one second, then slowly close your legs, using your inner thigh muscles to shut/bring the bed back.

I've found that this helps your rotator muscles to strengthen and stabilize your developpes greatly. It makes holding turn out easier, thus making the lift also easier.

If you can't get to a reformer, this is an awesome exercise too!
2.) Practice your developpe while laying on your back, keeping your hips on the ground without tilting. This takes the strain off the standing leg and reduces the resistance that gravity has on your working leg while upright.

3.) Using a theraband - In the same position as above, laying on your back with hips squared. Wrap the band around your foot and lift straght to second without a developpe. Holding the band with your opposite hand above/behind your head, push down with your leg against the band trying to close. Of course you should not be able to bring your turned out second back to first position, but the resistance helps you to build the strength to lift the leg.

I hope this was clear and that it'll help you. Many of these exercises may be difficult if you don't possess the flexibility in the hamstrings to extend the legs in seconde.

P.S. Don't forget, that video was done by a fellow ddn-er who is also an adult beginner like us.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Fri Jun 05, 2009 02:14 PM
Hi Yellowfairy!

I do those extensions on my back, already :) It's not really my front or back extensions that are the problem, it is my side extension. I haven't been able to do the lying down extension on my side properly, as I can not seem to keep my hips stacked well enough while I do it (I wobble all over the place). I'm guessing that most likely this is due to lack of core strength, since my turnout is what you'd expect for an adult beginner (not that big), and when I extend my leg to the side (when I am lying on the other side) this means it will be slightly forward. So I'm working on that.

Thanks for the tips!
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By YellowFairy Comments: 418, member since Sat Jun 21, 2008
On Fri Jun 05, 2009 03:18 PM
No problem! Don't forget, all those exercises I recommended can be done on your back in seconde as well. If it's too strange for you, you can roll onto your side, resting your head in your inner elbow or in your hand and practice the same developpe laying on your side also.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Fri Jun 05, 2009 04:46 PM
Oh! I never thought of that...goes to go try it on the floor...

How do you keep your hips from twisting to the side, if you do the developpe in seconde when you are on your back?
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By YellowFairy Comments: 418, member since Sat Jun 21, 2008
On Fri Jun 05, 2009 05:29 PM
Haha, that's the point of this exercise, is to developpe using the right muscles (core, glutes, inner thighs, etc.) without twisting your hips. On the ground, you can feel yourself twisting right away, whereas standing, sometimes one is not always aware. You can place your hands on the tops/fronts of your hip bones. It keeps yourself in check of the twisting, but doesn't really stop it. This exercise will help you to work with your natural turn out and to work your lift while working your placement.

Your knee on the working leg probably isn't touching the ground unless your amazingly turned out like some acrobat. You should avoid forcing your working leg's knee to the ground while you're in passe, or during the developpe your hips will most likely twist.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Cat123 Comments: 41, member since Mon Nov 24, 2008
On Sat Jun 06, 2009 09:11 PM
Thank you for posting that video- the 1/2 kneeling side extension is very interesting.

I tried it. I had no problem (with effort) to get the leg raised, but while, initially, the contraction was just under my glute on the outside of the leg (turnout muscles I think), it quickly went into my quad and it even partially cramped the quad!. That means I had a hugely difficult time maintaining turnout doing this and I only had my leg at about 45 degrees to the side, less than my real turnout. Looking at that video, I think that woman has really great turnout, or at least much more than mine. So my guess, is that this exercise may not be suitable for people with not so large turnout. It may also be because my hamstrings are so short I can barely touch my toes, but it felt like a turnout issue to me. Just my 2 cents.

Thank you again for posting that video :)
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By odile53 Comments: 1913, member since Thu Sep 06, 2007
On Sun Jun 07, 2009 05:18 AM
While working on turnout, core strength, and hamstring flexibility, do not force your side develope past the point where your technique is intact. If it's good at 45 degrees, don't try for 90. Work on slow (very slow) degages to as close to 90 as you can manage, and focus your effort on a controlled return of the working leg to fifth (or first.) Add all the core and hamstring exercises that are recommended. And be very, very patient: This takes a lot of time to improve.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Flashnflakymember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 400, member since Mon May 18, 2009
On Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:21 AM
Hi Odile53!

Because I'm a new beginner, I had to look up "degage". :P This is what I got...

It consists in the pointing of the foot from a closed position to an open position, and the foot slightly leaves the floor with the heel raised and the instep stretched.

So I just continue lifting my leg to as high as I can get it? I can barely get 45 degrees with a struggle. If I try lifting my leg without losing technique, I will barely get off the floor. Sigh. I'm guessing that whatever muscles it is that lifts the leg to the side, is not one that I normally use.

I'll keep plugging away at it.
re: Side extension help en>fr fr>en
By Guyenne Comments: 619, member since Fri Sep 10, 2004
On Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:56 PM
I haven't actually tried this one consistently yet, but it was recommended by a friend with amazing extensions. It's an add-on to the standard heel stretch to the side. After using your hand on your heel to get your leg as high as possible to the side, and letting go to attempt to hold the position, instead of dropping your leg from your high point when you can't hold it up anymore (happens really fast to me), you would flex your leg and foot in midair for a moment and then extend your leg back out again.

Another thing I've had recommended is doing barre stretches and attempting to lift your leg off the barre to hold it above the barre for as long as possible while maintaining the rest of your position.

I also have the bad habit of using the top of my leg too much when I should be using the bottom when trying for higher side extensions. Check with your teacher to see if it seems like you're doing this too.

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