Dear Katie: How Can I Retrain Myself So I Don't Grip My Quads?
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morg
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I grip my quads, and I don't know how to stop. I'm totally overdeveloping my quad muscles. How can I retrain myself so I use my legs correctly? Help!
Many dancers grip their quads, especially during leg-focused steps like développés and grands battements. To retrain yourself, try using imagery. For example: Gripping usually happens when you're lifting the leg, so when you do a battement, think of it going down into the floor before it goes up—not a lift, but a scoop. That'll help you support the battement correctly, from underneath, using your inner thigh muscles rather than your quads. During développés, shift your focus to your supporting leg. Think of it being strong and solid into the floor, which will help take the pressure off your working leg's quad muscle.
I'd also recommend Pilates, which will help you engage your core and strengthen your inner thighs so you don't always have to depend on your quads. And be sure to stretch your quads daily and roll them out with a foam roller. If they're tight, they won't lengthen out no matter what you do!
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