Over the years of teaching, I have come into contact with a lot of pupils with hyperextended knees, and hyperextended knee treatment and training require care, especially in ballet training.
What Is A Hyperextended Knee?
A hyperextended knee is one that looks as though it is bending backwards when the knee is fully stretched.
Hyperextended knees normally go hand in hand with Bow Legs, which you can read more about here.
As dance teachers, we have to be careful of hyperextended knee treatment in class, as it is so easy to overstretch the ligaments behind the knee during training which can lead to long-term damage.
A lot of my pupils only understand this fully as they get older and you have been talking about their hyperextended knees for years.
Hyperextended Knee Treatment And Training
When this type of pupil pulls up her knees, you have to ensure that she holds her thighs tight, but doesn’t overstretch her knees. It will almost feel like she is dancing with bent legs, although to us they will look straight.
Insist that she never lets her knees fall backwards when she has weight on them as it can exacerbate the problem. She has to focus on pulling up the thigh muscles and making the leg look as straight as possible without fully stretching the knee backwards.
She must have a feeling of tightening the muscles around the knee without actually stretching them fully. She has to retrain herself to stand on a neutral leg which is knee above the ankle bone and pelvis above the knees.
She has to focus on pulling up the thigh muscles and making the leg look as straight as possible without fully stretching the knee backwards. The dancer must have a feeling of tightening the muscles around the knee without actually stretching them fully. She has to train herself to stand on a neutral leg which is knee above the ankle bone and pelvis above the knees. This hyperextended knee treatment is going to require ongoing training and nagging on the teachers part.
A line drawn down through a photo of you standing, taken from the side, should reveal a postural plumb line, from the center of the skull, neck, spine (through your natural curves), pelvis, through the knees and ankles, or just in front of the ankles, depending where you rested your weight.
With hyperextended legs, the knees stretch back behind this line. While this curving out at the back of the knees is an admired line in a dancer’s working leg, it causes many problems in the supporting leg.
First, you tackle the feeling of the legs being bent when held in a straight position. In this straight position, it is much easier for the dancer to hold the turnout and have the pelvis in a neutral position where she can build strength in her centre.
When the knees rest back in hyperextension, the thighs turn in, and often the pelvis tucks under. Now you have compromised the safety of your lower back. (In this position you may develop bulky thighs and bulky hip muscles). From here you destabilize your balance. You can compensate for this distortion in many ways in soft shoes, but you eventually get onto pointe shoes, all kinds of problems will show up, if they haven’t already.
A whole book could easily be written about this the subject of hyperextended knee treatment. To keep it simplified, focus on the neutral leg. If your pelvis is held in neutral, you will be able to use all your muscles properly, and you won’t overdevelop your legs.
If you are a few years into training, it’s extra work and reprogramming of neural pathways and muscle memory, but most dancers do this all the time as they progress through their training and careers.
Your thighs must be elongated and pulled up long. You want a feeling of pushing down through the centre of your leg bones into the floor. Try and imagine a space between your hip bones and the top of your thighs. You will achieve a real lengthening by doing this, your deep lower abs will pull up and in nicely, and now your core muscles are supporting the length you want.
You will be able to hold your turnout and have a strong supporting leg. When you get into pointe shoes, you will have your body aligned well, over that tiny point on the floor.
If you want to read about lower back pain and stretches you can do, click here.
Please feel free to comment below, especially if you have had experience with hyperextended knees.