If you're one of the lucky dancers #blessed with hyperextended knees, you know that while they're super-pretty to look at, they're also super-prone to injury. Dance Spirit asked Sean P. Gallagher, BFA, PT, CFT, CPT, MS, and founder of Performing Arts Physical Therapy in NYC, about the most effective strengthening moves for hyperextension.
Photos by Jayme Thornton. Modeled by Sarah Meahl.
Exercise #1 – Skeletal Alignment Awareness Knee Sink
PT's Note: This exercise will discourage you from constantly standing in hyperextension by training your mind and muscles to be aware of your knee position.
1. Start standing with your legs shoulder-width apart. Allow yourself to relax into your what feels like your "normal" standing position, with your knees hyperextended but not locked.
Exercise #2 – Hamstring Stretch
PT's Note: This exercise encourages hamstring stability, as your hamstrings are key tendons in maintaining a proper, non-hyperextended standing position.
1. Start facing a barre or table that's a little more than hip height.
2. Place your right foot and ankle on the barre or tabletop, keeping both legs and your torso straight and both legs in parallel. Make sure your knees aren't hyperextended, but in "normal" position from Exercise #1.
4. Repeat this stretch with your raised leg turned out. Switch legs and repeat each stretch.
Exercise #3 – Theraband Strengthening for the Knees
1. Tie a Theraband in a loop around a stationary object. Step your left leg inside the loop and position the Theraband behind your knee. Walk backwards until there's tension in the band.
2. Slowly bend and straighten your right leg 10 times, making sure to remain in "normal" position, and avoid hyperextending the knee. Switch legs and repeat the exercise.
A version of this story appeared in the January 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Calling All #Hype Girls."