Improve Your Extensions for Ballet

mkochstretch

So you want to improve your extension – your developes front, side and back – who doesn’t!? In this blog I am going to go over the exercises that you should be doing to help your develope height tremendously.

Extension and flexibility are two words that are pretty much synonymous in the ballet world but each has it’s own place in your ballet technique. The two compliment each other, however flexibility is not the sole reason that you cannot get your leg up…and hold it there. Strength (yes, there’s that word again) is usually the limiting factor.

As dancers our hips take a real beating. From doing daily ballerina things like standing turned out, gripping in the thighs and quite frankly, not knowing how to properly engage our core muscles, we are already at a disadvantage. Gripping in the hips is the #1 reason why I see dancers struggle with their extension (also in turns and jumps too). So how can you undo years of damage and unlock your potential to a freely moving hip?

#1 Breathe – Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Chances are, you don’t even realize that you are holding your breath. When we tense our muscles we are usually holding our breath at the same time creating even more tension to the muscles. Instead, try visualizing your hip as a sponge. Take your leg up to passe (think of a sponge full of water). Right before you develope the leg think of the hip relaxing and breathe. Then as you extend the leg, think of the sponge “wringing out” as you develope. Practice this and eventually you will be able to visualize this way in class.

#2 Strengthen & Release – Strengthening various muscles such as the glutes, inner thighs, and core can help release a lot of unnecessary tension from the hips, resulting in better extensions. Try the following exercises taken right from my YouTube Channel:

#3 Rebuild – Rather than showing you a bunch of ballet stretches and exercises that you already know and have tried (like the hike your hip up and hold exercise) I am going to give you an exercise that you can do to strengthen the gluteus medius muscle. First I will show you where the glute medius is located followed two exercises. “Monster Walks” and “Hip Abduction” which can help retrain the muscles around the hip pain and tightness that you feel from gripping.

hippaindiagMonster Walks – Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions each leg with a resistance band.

monsterwalk

I am looking forward to hearing how your extension improves just from these 3 quick tips. As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions and don’t forget to check out the other helpful products here. Remember, your dancing deserves the best!

*Featured photo of Maria Kochetkova

Nikol

Nikol Klein is a former professional ballet dancer turned Ballet Strength coach, author, mentor, and certified personal trainer.

2 thoughts on “Improve Your Extensions for Ballet

  1. sarah says:

    So I’ve been have some weird issues with my left hip. Every time i extend it it clicks and its not as flexible as my right. Would these exercises help with that? or is it just something I’m going to have to get used to?

    • Nikol says:

      Hi Sarah,
      These exercises could possibly help but it is hard to diagnose without making an assessment in person. I would also try foam rolling to release some of the tightness in the hips.

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