Knee Pop and Long Leg!

in Leg

After reading your letter about the popping hip, I was wondering if you may shed some light on a problem that I've been having. I've been having a popping sensation in the back of the knee. After x-rays and an MRI, I visited an orthopedic that informed me that "he doesn't know what to inform me", he thinks it's my hamstring. The popping began back in October and since then has for the most part gone away, but there are occasions that I can still feel it "pop" or get a sensation as though it needs to pop. Do you have any concepts or solutions that I can try? I assume I must let you know that there isn't any specific exercise that bothers me, most of the time it happens when I am just walking!

Thanks! Nancy

Good query - and - I'm happy to hear that the ‘pop' is slowly going away. It's not unusual at all to know that the lateral hamstring is tighter than the others. For ladies, it has to do with the width of our hips and probably tighter iliotibial bands. (The IT band connects from the muscle tissue on the outside of the hip and runs down the outside of the leg to below the knee)

Are your IT bands tight? In that case, I would work with a foam roller alongside the outside of the leg as well as the front and back.

Some dancers have some natural rotation that happens at their toes while walking. You wish to keep the hip/knee/ankle in alignment when walking, and that usually means facing straight ahead. You might observe if the instances you're noticing the pop in case you are wearing shoes that maybe shift your gait. I see dancers walk more turned out while in heels, for example.

It is amazing how usually a favorite pair of footwear may be traced to some small tweaks and pulls. I'm not saying that's what created your ‘pop' but merely when there's something occurring that isn't a straightforward trigger/impact - it's helpful to broaden our observations to look for much less widespread influences.

Next question…

I have a big problem standing in fifth position. I can't appear to straighten my legs and nonetheless maintain a closed fifth position, mostly because one leg is insanely longer than the opposite one! My teachers are all the time telling me to straighten my legs and I simply can't appear to do it. As a result, I grip my quads quite a bit to try and keep a straight fifth position. Then my teachers tell me to rise up and turn out to maintain me from gripping my quads, but then I can't keep from tucking under. Will I ever have the ability to have a straight fifth with my uneven legs? What should I do?

Thanks! -Kelly

There's a simple answer to this drawback, Kelly. That's to get a raise to place in your soft slippers of the short leg. I've seen this downside before when the dancer comes to see me and is having some knee, hip, or ankle issues on the long leg side.

If there is sufficient difference that you can't easily cheat your fifth, (I'm not encouraging anyone to cheat something) that tells me you might be standing erratically between the 2 legs even in open positions.

Stand in first position facing the mirror. Slowly lower into demi plié. Do you shift to the longer leg aspect on the bottom of the plié? Now put something small - less than a half inch in thickness beneath your short leg. Repeat your demi plié. Does it look more even? How does it really feel?

If it feels considerably better it could be worth going to the drug store and buying a pair of heel cushions and place one of them in your comfortable shoe. It is an affordable fix. Take the opposite lift and put it in your strolling sneakers and notice if you feel more evenly balanced as you go through the day.

Warmest regards,

Deborah

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Deborah Vogel is a dancer, author, and master teacher who conducts workshops for teachers as well as student and professional dancers. Her numerous articles on dance technique and injury prevention have appeared in Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher, and Pointe Magazines. During her years in NYC she co-founded the Center for Dance Medicine with Dr. Richard Bachrach. Currently she is on faculty at Oberlin College and the OC Conservatory of Music.

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Knee Pop and Long Leg!

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This article was published on 2010/10/27