SETUP: Make sure that the straps are adjusted to the appropriate length and that you are holding onto something stable. Standing on your left leg, place both loops around the right foot. Bend your right leg behind you as you thread your left arm through the straps, placing the foam pad on your left shoulder.
- Holding onto something stable, lift the right knee to the side toward your shoulder, with your heel slightly forward of your knee.
- Unfold the leg as you straighten it out to the side of your body. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
- To get out of the position, bend the knee and turn the leg in. Remove the foam pad from the shoulder and step out of the loops.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION: Work the muscles isometrically within the position by actively engaging the muscles and hold for 30 counts, followed by a relaxation phase.
- PUSH DOWN: Slowly push the leg down into the resistance and hold for 10 counts. Then lift the leg up, trying to move into a greater range of motion. 4-6 times
- BEND AND LIFT: Keeping the resistance, bend the knee in towards your shoulder. Then, without dropping the thing, straighten the leg to the side, moving into a greater range of motion. 10 times
- FLEX AND POINT: Flex and point the foot in the position 8-10 times.
WATCH OUT FOR:
- Inversion of the foot-a “sickled” foot.
- Medial rotation of the hip of the extended leg-the entire leg turning inward.
- Anterior or posterior tilt of the pelvis.
- Keep your hips squared and both legs laterally rotated.
- Keep pelvis in a neutral position and work on maintaining lateral rotation from the hip.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Hip injury or pain.
BENEFITS: Supplemental hip strengthening is important for a dancer because the necessary strength required to hold the leg in above average ranges of motion is not used in every day activities.
This exercise instils the correct placement and muscle activation for a développé to the side that will allow for the leg to move higher and engage the correct muscles to hold it there. There is a spiraling effect of the thigh bone in the hip socket throughout the movement. It might help to remember to aim your sits bone down toward the floor and let the outside of the thigh rotate down as well. Keep the standing leg activated. Watch out for locking back in the standing knee. Rather than locking into a passive position with your weight in the heel, fully activate the muscles of the standing leg to support and protect the knee with your weight evenly distributed. Pull up on the thigh while co contracting the hamstring and keep the arch of the foot lifted to prevent "rolling in" of the foot. The "rolling in" effect can throw the whole body out of alignment by encouraging internal rotation of the tibia, an uneven weight distribution in the foot and an undesirable tilting of the pelvis to try to complete the movement pattern. Performing an assisted développé with the Flexistretcher draws attention to correct alignment and practice properly lifting the leg without overusing incorrect muscles.
**When ready to progress, practice the same exercise standing on something unstable such as a disk or yoga block. This will help to focus on maintaining turnout on the standing leg while increasing the height of the gesture leg.