Knee hurting…. hamstrings tight…..

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Onto the questions of the week….

I have just started dancing! I’m 18 years old and a freshman in college! Today during tap class I was brushing my left foot while hopping on the other. My hopping knee started to hurt a bit so I stopped. I read your article on pronation, and I used to wear little inserts occasionally to help with my feet, but that was in my early teen years and it wasn’t really monitored. My knees have given me trouble randomly throughout my life, and I’m starting to think the problem is with my knees not my feet. I am an aspiring actor who is taking dance to help get in touch with my body, and I don’t want to end up with a serious injury.

Any advice? Who should I go to? Should I wear inserts in my tap shoes? I don’t know what to do! 🙁
Thank you!

Congratulations on starting to dance – doesn’t it feel great!!  I want to say that I know dancers who went on to dance professionally – after starting in college – so it’s never too late!

I wouldn’t jump to putting the inserts into your tap shoes.  My first thought is that you probably haven’t been jumping on one leg very much and your quadriceps are weak.  It takes a lot of strength to do multiple jumps on one leg – no matter whether you are in tap class or ballet class.

Start strengthening by simply standing on one leg (in good alignment) and even weight on the 3 points of the foot.  Can you easily stand on one leg and toss a ball back and forth between your hands for up to a minute?  Then progress to standing on one leg and doing baby demi pliés. Watch for locking back into hyperextension when you straighten.  Just come up to straight, and go 2 – 3 inches into a demi plié.  As you build strength you can deepen your demi plié, but that take some time.

Single leg demi pliés are a simple but very effective way to strengthen the muscles around the knee!  Hope you get to take another dance class next semester!


I am a 13-year old dancer and I’ve been dancing for 9 years, however I have flexibility problems.  The main thing that I feel is holding me back is my having tight hamstrings (although my hips, calves, and Achilles tendon are also tight).  It’s probably something hereditary, because my mother said she has had tight hamstrings all of her life and could never fix it.  Because of my tight hamstrings, I can’t get into my middle split, and it affects my developpes and grande battements in all the positions.  I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to fix this.

Thanks! -Cailin

Tight hamstrings really plague a lot of dancers, Cailin.  They will affect your extensions – more than your middle splits.  (although they strongly influence regular splits)

Picture-1-150x150I’m going to show you my favorite variation on hamstring stretching.  Place your leg on a chair or other surface that is below hip level. Gentlypress your heel into the chair while flexing forward at the hip joint.  Keep your pelvis square while flexing forward and keep pressing down on the chair throughout the entire stretch.  Go only as far as is comfortable and come back up.  Do the other side.

You may notice that this way of stretching feels different – you might feel the stretch over a larger area.  It is a dynamic way of stretching your hamstrings.  Do this stretch consistently for a few weeks and note the difference in your flexibility.   I’ve had dancers who haven’t improved with regular hamstring stretching begin to see a difference with stretching in this way.

Happy stretching!


“Education is the key to injury prevention”

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