*(Or, really, hit that dimmer switch. )
Just a quickie today.
I’m sure someone has told me this before, but today something that Killer B said really struck home.
When you’re balancing en relevé (and at various other times; I’ll try to remember to explore this idea in much greater depth at some point), you can help your adductors and deep rotators with their job by letting the glutes (especially those pesky maximi that think they’re responsible for absolutely everything) relax a bit.
Turn on the adductors; dim the glutes.
The gluteals are huge and super strong–so they easily overpower the smaller muscles. Curiously, this makes it much harder to balance in turnout.
It makes a great deal of sense if you just think about sous-sus: if your glutes are firing all of their guns at once, they’re kind of pushing your legs away from the center line. The adductors aren’t strong enough to overcome them, so we tend to either be unstable or comprise our turnout to place our legs in a position from which the glutes can push them towards each-other.
If you relax the glutes substantially (but don’t completely let them go) while keeping the adductors, deep rotators, and pelvic floor powerfully engaged, you stabilize your hip without compromising your turnout.
In fact, you might find a few more degrees of turnout than you thought you had (no promises, but it happens).
Of course, all this depends on your nervous system having figured out how to consciously feel and activate (or deactivate) those various muscles.
Still, this was enlightening to the degree that L’Ancien’s “grand battement starts in your back” was. Relinquishing some of the fearsome grip of my glutes made my balances better instantly … and it also improved my plié, which led to better petit allegro. I did a random entrechat six today in a combination with dancers’ choice on the beats, and it felt like nothing.
Right now, I’m a glute-clencher by habit. I’ll be retraining this consciously for a while. Eventually it’ll replace my current habit … and then I’ll discover some other awful thing, because that’s ballet for you 😛
Anyway, if you, like I, am a bendy person with ridiculous hip mobility, I hope this helps.
*Insofar as I am capable of ever being serious about anything, ever, because I am a focused person, a dedicated person, an all-of-that-kind-of-stuff person, but serious? I’m not sure that’s the best descriptor, really, where I’m concerned.
I am thinking about injuries, and my history of accumulating them, and being like, “Ha! Ohai! I haz hurted myself again,” and then basically making jokes about it because that’s way easier than actually admitting that I’m hella pissed at myself.
But, like, I am.
Pissed at myself, that is (for my Brits: I don’t mean I’m drunk at myself, I mean I’m mad at myself … this time … which you probably already knew from context because you’re smart, but somehow my inner Smart-Alec just wouldn’t let me not say it).
Or, well, I was.
And then I realized that I’m looking at this incorrectly.
I have a habit of injuring myself mildly, which just happens in Teh Ballets and in life at large sometimes, because humans can be careful but can’t be perfect.
Injuring myself mildly from time to time wouldn’t be a big deal in and of itself.
The problem is that I also then have a problem of doing things that exacerbate minor injuries and turn them into major ones, like I did this week.
I’ve been mad at myself because I was like, “That’s just careless.”
Except, it’s not. Carelessness isn’t the problem.
The problem is that I don’t perceive pain normally and I’m stupidly hypermobile (okay, and my drive to do things like dance and aerials often exceeds my limited supply of common sense).
So, basically, parts of me don’t start hurting when they should, then stop hurting before they should. The level of pain I experience does not accurately reflect the severity of any given injury, nor do they reflect how much it has healed.
Theoretically, the deep muscle in my “thut” (that’s thigh-butt; you can thank my aerials instructors for that one!) that I could barely use yesterday should be causing a shedload of pain today, but it actually doesn’t hurt at all**.
**Maybe it would if I tried to do the things I’m not supposed to do. Maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t plan to find out the hard way. At any rate, it should at least be sore.
Note to self: THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE.
Likewise, parts of me stretch in ways that increase the likelihood of injury under certain circumstances. This is partly due to associated abnormalities in proprioception and pain perception (see above) and partly due to the fact that greater flexibility often correlates with reduced strength.
Not that I’m not strong; I’m just not necessarily strong in the places that will prevent me from doing things like yoinking the crap out of my turnout muscles.
I haven’t been treating this seriously. I’ve been too busy being delighted about the things that my abnormal pain perception and hypermobility let me do to be willing to countenance the fact that they also predispose me to injuries that I could better avoid if I was, basically, less weird.
As they say: “You take the good with the bad.” And I’ve been trying only to take the good, without accounting for the bad.
This past week, I turned a minor strain into a major one and bought myself several days off dancing and a term of about six weeks to full recovery (with appropriate management).
I wasn’t being careless. Things just didn’t hurt, so I carried on as usual. My leg was a little stiff and sore in the morning, but felt okay enough by the time class rolled around, and really quite okay indeed by the time trapeze class rolled around — so I proceeded with business as usual.
This is the same approach that bought me a layoff of a couple of months last year, followed by a long reconditioning period.
Obviously, a rate of one serious injury per year is quite a bit higher than is really sustainable.
So, in additional to healing, I plan to spend the next several weeks learning how to prevent injuries to my specific body. Clearly, this will mean developing both better awareness of what’s going on in my body and a greater willingness to turn to my live-in Physio (AKA my husband, Denis) when I think I have a minor injury and follow his advice.
And, of course, because I like to write about everything (if nothing else, it serves as a kind of external backup drive), I’ll probably be writing about this process here.
So there you have it. Some insights about injuries that I don’t think I really had before.
Also a terrifying picture of my butt. Holy chromoly. Who stuffed ‘roid-raging weasels down my tights?!