Ballet Training

Ask Amy: Tips for Stabilizing Hypermobile Joints

Photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe. modeled by Marisa Trapani of Ballet Academy East.

I have a lot of turnout and extreme flexibility, but I can't hold my développés. Are there exercises to stabilize my hips that will help me gain strength without losing flexibility? —Angie


Hypermobility can be a double-edged sword: While it blesses you with flexibility, the excess movement in your joints creates instability. "When you're really open in the hip sockets," says Shannon Casati, PTA, a dance specialist and Pilates instructor at Reavis Rehab in Round Rock, Texas, "there's more to control. You need deep, stabilizing muscles to help you hold your développé."

Casati recommends two simple Pilates exercises. The first is a straight leg raise, which helps strengthen your quadriceps and hip flexors. Lie on your back with one knee bent with the foot on the ground, and the other leg straight out in front of you. Use your core to flatten your back to the floor, and raise your straight leg so it's parallel with your other knee. Do three sets of 20 on both sides. "Make sure the core and hips stay still," says Casati.

The second exercise is a modified bridge, which targets your hamstrings and glutes, and is demonstrated in the image above. Straighten your leg five times on each side. "If your hamstrings cramp, stop and stretch them," says Casati. Gradually increase to 10 sets as you build strength.

Modified Bridge

This targets your hamstrings and glutes.

  • Lie on your back with both feet on your ground, and place a ball or rolled-up towel between your knees.
  • Press your pelvis up into a bridge position, making sure your hip bones are level.
  • Maintaining a neutral spine, straighten out one leg (continuing to push up with the glutes) and hold for 10 counts.
  • Bend the knee back down and straighten the other leg.
  • Do five on each side.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

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