Velucci, Michelle. “Hyperextension and Bowleggedness .” DanceTeacher Magazine Oct. 2009: n. pag. Web. 7 Oct. 2009. <www.dance-teacher.com...sections/health/122>.
A hyperextended knee is a misalignment of the knee that can result in serious injury if not taken care of correctly whereas bowleggedness generally does not endanger a dancer. Dancers with knees that hyperextend beyond the straight position typically have loose ligaments, known as ligamentous laxity, allowing the knees to stretch backwards. This hyperextension of the knee generally is noticeable from the time of birth. Bowleggedness is a misalignment of bones caused by the way in which the tibia and femur are connected. The easiest way in which to identify dancers with hyperextension of the knee is to observe their first position. If knees are touching when a dancer is standing in a turned out first position with their legs locked backwards, they have hyperextended knees. Other common things that are noticeable in hyperextended dancers is putting most weight into their heels, tilting the pelvis forward, and swaying their lower backs. Experts agree that it is not a good idea for students to dance with hyperextended knees. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is what is most commonly injured. Hyperextension of the knee also puts a lot of stress on the lower leg, often causing shin splints. Dancers often rely too much on their ligaments which is bad because of how overstretched they are.
This source was an article from a magazine intended for dance teachers. The article compared the differences between hyperextension and bowleggedness, providing information on how to identify each problem, the risks and how to work on preventing injuries and pain. I found this article to be helpful because of the fact that it is intended for dance teachers and provides information on how dance teachers can help students with hyperextension. Because I am a mentor, I must address hyperextension as a teacher would and therefore found this article to be very helpful.
“Common Dance Injuries - Knee and Thigh.” Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopaedic Institute Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2009. <www.med.nyu.eduhjd/harkness/patients/injuries/knee.html#hyperextension>.
The knee is the largest joint in the body and often has to support more than a person’s body weight. Hyperextension is when the knees extend backwards beyond the straight position. Some think that hyperextension of the knee compliments the aesthetic of the leg. However, hyperextended knees generally mean extreme amount of flexibility resulting in looser and weaker ligaments. Therefore, those with hyperextended knees, especially dancers, rely too heavily on the knee joint and lower leg, putting an excessive amount of stress in these two regions, instead of engaging their muscles. Symptoms and associated problems of hyperextension include muscle imbalance in the thigh, in which quadriceps are overly active and hamstrings are not as well developed, ligamentous laxity, patella displacement, shin splints, and tibial stress fractures. It is crucial, particularly for younger dancers to begin their training by learning the proper techniques of avoiding sitting in the knee.
The most helpful information I found in this article was the ways in which to help young dancers learn to deal with their hyperextension before they injure themselves. The article suggests that teachers have these dancers work in first position with their heels touching which will prevent the knees from bending backwards. Also, the article explains that dancers need to feel the knee “pull up” instead of backwards. It makes sense that young dancers should become acquainted with how to deal with their hyperextension and not get accustomed to straightening their knees “the wrong way”. By having the dancers become familiar with the straight-looking position which will feel bent to them initially, injury prevention is more likely. Overall, I thought this article provided some great information.
Hyperextension of the Knee. N.d. photobucket. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2009. <media.photobucket.com...image/hyperextension%20of%20the%20knee/bayadere93/overige/xray_knee_hyperextension.jpg>.
This source is an x-ray of a hyperextended knee. The picture clearly displays the bone bending backwards, beyond the normal straight position. The hyperextended knee looks very abnormal, appearing as though it has not properly locked into the correct position. The knee almost looks as if it may snap because of how far back it is bent.
I found this source to be very helpful in visualizing where the actual bones and ligaments lie within the hyperextended knee. Though I have seen pictures of a hyperextended knee from the outside, I have never seen the inside structure. I had not realized the degree to which the bone actually bends backwards, helping me to understand how difficult dancing on a hyperextended knee actually could be.
How to Do Hyper Extension Knee Exercises . eHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2009. <www.ehow.comvideo_2359489_do-hyper-extension-knee-exercises.html>.
This source was a video that demonstrated pilates exercises that may help in strengthening the core. According to the video, it is important that the core is strong for those with hyperextended knees because less stress will be put on the knees. This strengthened core should hopefully relieve pain. Yoga and pilates is supposedly a great activity for those with bad knees because it will strengthen the body, which will eventually relieve stress on the knees. The exercise that the yoga instructor performs in this video is ironically called “hyperextension”. The instructor lies on her stomach with her hands folded in front of her. The instructor then lifts her upper body off the ground and holds this position for a few seconds. This exercise strengthens the back and the core alike, potentially helping with knee pain caused by hyperextension.
I do not believe this video was incredibly helpful. Though I understand that yoga exercises strengthen the body and therefore help with weak knees and knee pain, I am not sure how this back-strengthening exercise is necessarily that helpful towards those with hyperextended knees.
Patino, Eduardo. Cover Lines. 2002. Pointe Feb.-Mar. 2002: 3. Print.
The picture printed in this magazine is of a professional pointe dancer. The pointe dancer displayed, named Misty Copeland, is photographed in a standing position with one leg extended to her side with her foot fully pointed. The extended leg is obviously hyperextended, bending backwards beyond the normal straight position. Also, the supporting leg is bent backwards. Because the magazine is centered around pointe dancing and the dancer who is photographed is a professional, this picture supports the fact that hyperextended legs are often desired in professional dancers.
I found this picture to be very helpful in proving that hyperextension is an important aspect in the professional dance world. Though hyperextended knees can be dangerous to dance on, often making dancing more difficult, they are very much desired by professional choreographers and directors. Though there may be many negative effects to having hyperextended knees, there are many positives, including aesthetic elements, as well.
- - -. “Misty Water-Colored Memories.” Pointe Feb.-Mar. 2002: 51. Print.
Before the professional pointe dancer, Misty Copeland, even began dance classes, her junior high school drill team dance teacher told her that she looked like a dancer. Though she had no experience dancing, Missy was appointed captain of her junior high drill team. Copeland began classes at a local Boys and Girls Club. Copeland had a lot of catching up to do compared to her peers, one of the many reasons she took her tenth grade year off from school to focus more intently on her ballet training. In 1998, Missy was awarded a full scholarship to train at the San Francisco Ballet Academy, a great accomplishment for someone who only started seriously training at the age of thirteen. The next summer, she received a full scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive and was then asked to join the second company at age seventeen. A year later, Missy was invited to join the American Ballet Theatre Company.
This article, I believe, simply proves the point that professional companies desire dancers with hyperextended legs. From the picture of Missy Copeland displayed on the same page as the article, it can be inferred that she has hyperextended knees because of the overly-straight legs. Therefore, this shows that her hyperextended legs give her an advantage in the professional dance world. Also, just from looking at her, Missy’s junior high school dance teacher commented on how she “looked like a dancer”. Obviously, Copeland’s hyperextended knees distinguish her as a dancer. I found this article to be somewhat helpful in figuring out how hyperextension affects dancers.