Power In Leg Extensions
As dancers, we want to achieve efficiency in movement, and an aesthetic of effortless motion. The demands of choreography require control, precision, ability to move in variable ways, and quite often powerful force and use of our legs. Being able to sustain and control leg extensions and battements requires immense core stability, a strong and functional psoas muscle, and motor control in our pelvis and hips.
These three exercises work as a progression, targeting the hip stabilizers and core muscles. We begin with closed chain work where we get more feedback into our joints. Then we progressively add load before moving into open chain work. In open chain work, we don’t have feedback from a surface or prop, which means it’s a better translation of mechanics for what choreography in dance demands.
Video #1: Core Stability and The Psoas
In this exercise, the focus is on building core support through our pelvis and hips and specifically working on deep psoas control. The psoas is a muscle responsible for lifting and holding the leg in extensions and battements. We are also working on centering the thigh into the hip for better control of our ranges of motion, as well thoracic control, lumbar rotation, and transversus abdominis.
Video #2: The Psoas Factor-Closed Chain
Still working in a closed chain, we are moving the hips into a slightly larger range of motion. The focus is again on the hip stabilizers and core muscles, with specific work into psoas. Through moving against resistance, we are loading the psoas. As the tension is releasing, we are teaching the psoas to lengthen. We need the psoas both to shorten and lengthen in order to optimize its function and power for leg extensions in all directions.
Video #3: The Psoas Factor- Open Chain
This exercise incorporates the components of developer and battements. After loading the psoas, and working our hip and core stabilizers in a closed chain, we have better support and control for open chain work.
Our class training alone is only one component of building a foundation for leg extensions in choreography. Cross training is hugely beneficial for strengthening the supporting muscle groups, and these Pilates and Reformer exercises are an example of how you can build the right technical foundation for successful leg extensions and battements.