I don’t know if you can help me but my question is mainly about my knock knees. I have been dancing all of my life, and now into college, I would love to perform in a Company someday on a more professional level, I feel like I have hit a wall in my improvement and training, It’s almost like no matter what I do I cannot improve on certain things because I continually have received the same corrections and no matter how much I work on it, nothing seems to change because of my anatomical alignment from my knock knees. I feel as though I am no longer able to improve at the rate I would like to be.
Since anatomically my knees do not align over my toes, it makes balance and maintaining the proper stance in the correct alignment with Ballet and modern and everything else I do difficult as well as maintaining my turn out especially when dancing in center and moving across the floor, not really the barre work.
I hope you are understanding what I am trying to explain, I mean Ive done pretty well so far dealing with my knock knees, but I seriously feel like I am being held back at this point, and I am getting the same corrections about my alignment all the time when I try so hard to correct it. I don’t know if you have experience working with dancers with anatomical things such as knock knees or bow legs, etc, but do you have any advice for me? or any excercises or things I should be doing to help with my knock knees?
Recently I have researched and found out that there is a surgery that can be done to correct knock knees, but it takes about a year to regain full strength and mobility after the surgery, and since I am not someone to want to take that time off from dancing especially in the junior year of school, that would be something I would have to think about maybe later in my future, and I don’t even know if that would be a good idea to do anyway. All I know is I want to find out what I can do to make my last two years of college ones I can really get somewhere with my improvement even though I have knock knees, You seem so knowledgeable about everything, so any help or suggestions would be soooo wonderful! sorry for the long e-mail!
Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! Angelica
Angelica… your question is a bit hard to answer because I’m not clear with how knock kneed you are. You are accurate that it does make it impossible to get your hip/knee/ankle in a straight line, and that is also true with a dancer who is bowlegged. How far apart are your feet when your knees are touching? It may be very helpful to go to a physical therapist that works with dancers to have the different elements of your technique looked at. For example, being knock kneed doesn’t have to influence your turnout, so you’ll want to see what the hip structure is like. Is it possible that you have a hip joint that structurally turns in some? (called an anteverted hip) I would address the hip joint separately at first from the knees.
Here’s a very short clip showing how anteversion (being structurally turned in) or retroversion (being structurally turned out) would test at the hip joint. (The 2 clips are taken from my new Essential Anatomy: A Multimedia Course for Dancers and Dance Teachers)
Moving down to the feet – the goal is to be as even as possible between the three points of the feet. With knock knees there is a strong tendency to pronate, or roll in. Training your balance on one leg would be key. Try standing on one foot and tossing a pinkie ball in the air for up to 3 minutes. Notice what area first gets tired. That is an area of tightness or weakness. Often dancers will find the outside of their hip on the standing leg getting sore first, and I encourage them to do more pinkie ball release around the pelvis and outside of the hip if that does happen.
What I want you to focus on is the fact that you have danced all your life and you continued right into college! And you don’t mention that you’ve had any significant injuries – a definite good sign. With knock knees the goal is to keep the muscles as balanced as possible from the hip down. There isn’t any exercise that will ‘cure’ the knock knees since it is a structural issue except surgery – and I’m not sure I would recommend it, especially if you are fully functioning (meaning moving without discomfort or pain).
There are certain types of dance that may be easier on your body than others, and you’d know what those are by just doing them. I’m not encouraging you to change forms – but to just explore. I had a student at Oberlin who had pretty significant knock knees, and she ended up competing nationally on the swing circuit!
My point is you obviously love dancing, and you want to improve – I got it. I want you to focus on improving the balance of all the muscles around the hip joint first. Test your turnout – look at the balance between the quads and the hamstrings – as well as the outer hip muscles and inner thigh muscles. Get them as flexible and strong as possible. Focus on your feet and improve your balance by balancing in as many different ways as possible, on your bed, on a soft pillow, standing on one leg with your eyes, closed, etc. You’ll be focusing on what you can do to improve, rather than being so aware of your knees, which you can’t structurally change.
At the college is there anyone that teaches a dance kinesiology class that you could meet with to muscle test you? That might help guide you where to focus your efforts on bringing balance to the muscle groups – the same focus that every dancer should have.
I’ve seen lots of nontraditional bodies moving in beautiful ways.. I don’t want you to give your dream up of continuing to have dance in your life after college.
warmest wishes for a great junior year at school!
“Education is the key to injury prevention”