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Over developed quad muscles


balletla
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My DD is concerned that her quad muscles are getting too big and well developed. I understand that it might be because she is using those muscles instead of others. Is there anything she can do to slim them down e.g. yoga or something?

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This is what my daughter was saying about her own muscles, so it would be interesting to know what exercises are available. Having said that she is not engaging her inner thigh muscles enough and she has acknowledged this, but still finds it difficult.

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Rest will result in muscles losing size. However the quads are required to perform a lot of the movements in ballet; they are the prime muscles for stretching the knees, and are also used a fair amount in lifting the legs.

 

In terms of lifting the legs, speak to your DD about making sure her pelvis is in the right position. If the pelvis is tilted then often the deep core muscles won't be engaged and the larger surface muscle groups will take over.

 

Imagery is helpful - imagine using the deeper muscles to lift legs, or imaginging lengthening the legs away from the body when lifting them, as well as making sure they really are as turned out as possible will also help. However it is anatomically IMPOSSIBLE not to use the quads to lift the leg so any teacher who says this is mistaken.

 

As for the 'inner thigh...' I wrote a post about this a while ago. Many dancers can't actually identify where the 'inner thigh' is! In parallel, this will be the adductor muscle groups but in 180 degrees of turnout the inner thigh is actually the hamstring group! And the role of the hamstrings are to bend the leg and lift it into arabesque (to some degree).

 

This articles is very useful http://danceadvantage.net/2009/08/05/inner-thigh/

 

IADMS has lots of help sheets, this one is all about conditioning for leg extensions http://www.iadms.org/associations/2991/files/info/Bulletin_for_Teachers_1-1_pp5-6_Wilmerding.pdf

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One of the exercises that can affect how the muscles of the thigh are shaped is grand plié. This must be done smoothly and evenly both in the descent as well as in the return - no stopping - no sitting in the plié. The muscles do not relax at the bottom of th plié - they continue to be evenly engaged.

 

Every exercise in the ballet vocabulary (both at the barre as well as in the center) should be designed to have a counter effect - as much plié as rise; going from one to the other smoothly, Not only within the exercise but from one exercise to another. So if a long balance is involved on pointe or demi-pointe it should end with a demi-plié - each should equal the other - this is especially true at the barre where the body is warming up.

 

Visualization is a part of the process. When the leg is being lifted into developpée it is lifted from beneath. Of course the entire thigh is involved but the visualization is that it is being lifted from beneath.

 

Think of a hand running along the bottom of the leg as it is being lifted.

 

Think of someone holding onto the ribbons that go across the ankle and lifting the foot up and out.

 

Raise the knee as high as it will go without comprosing the alignment of the hips or shoulders, and then lift the leg from there.

 

A good way to feel those inner thigh muscles is to point the foot in tendue, then step on that foot and drag it back to fifth or first position.

 

It is also good to remember that girls have a fear of large thighs when in fact the thigh is taking on shape (a good thing) rather than muscle bulge. Nothing wrong with a lovely ballet shaped leg.

 

A well designed barre and center will produce a smooth muscle aspect. However, genetics also does play a role.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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Well I hope my daughter doesn't take after me as my legs look like lollipops with knobbly knees. I will get my daughter to read both these responses as she will understand what you are both saying, I haven't got a clue but thankyou both for the advice.

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