Arabesque, how to lift leg up higher?

As a dance Physiotherapist, I have been seeing dancers complaining about back pain when they try to turnout and lift the back leg higher.

They also complaint of a poor bodyline when lifting the back leg in arabesque.

If you want to lift the back leg properly without hurting the back, first you have to understand the anatomy of hip.

For a normal hip extension, anatomically, we can only extend the hip 10-20 degree.

For more flexible person, at most the hip extension range is about 30 degree.



So how can we lift the back leg up and looks like it is 90 degree or even more?


(Photo from:

Obviously we not only need a full hip extension, we also need the mobility of the pelvis (Sacroiliac joint) and the lower back (Lumbar spine).

How can we maintain the mobility of the pelvis and lumbar spine in arabesque move?

The key is to keep the global muscles of the pelvis and lumbar spine (i.e. Gluteal muscles and back extensors – erector spinae etc.) less tense.

However, how can we not use the gluteal and back extensors muscles to lift the back leg??

The answer is to use the HAMSTRINGS and CORE (Transversus abdominus and multifidus) muscles.

We have to try keep the Global muscles less tense and use the deep Core muscles and Hamstrings to initiate the movement.

That is to help us isolate the hip joint movement and keep the spine and pelvis mobile to achieve full extension.

Watch the YouTube Clip below, you will see how to use the hamstrings first to initiate the movement while the core to keep stable and not arching the back i.e. to keep spine mobile for the back leg to move properly.

In this way, you can keep the spine and pelvis flexible, pain free and at the same time lifting the back leg up with beautiful bodyline.

Copyright @ Perfect Pointe Physiotherapy Ltd.





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