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Subject: "flexibility in children" Archived thread - Read only
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11-03-02, 12:04 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail cemah Click to send private message to cemah Click to add this user to your buddy list  
"flexibility in children"
   I have been told by a orthopaedic consultant that my eight year old daughter has 'loose' joints and is double jointed. Is this a good or a bad thing for potential dancers? he seemed to think it was a good thing.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: flexibility in children trogadmin 11-03-02 1
     RE: flexibility in children katharine kanter 13-03-02 2

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11-03-02, 12:30 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail trog Click to send private message to trog Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: flexibility in children"
In response to message #0
   The term "double jointed" is a falacy. Flexibility has been defined as "the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints that is attainable in a momentary effort with the help of a partner or a piece of equipment." Thus flexib ility is specific to a particular joint or group of joints. That is to say, it is a myth that some people are innately flexible throughout their entire body.

In answer to your question a quote from Brad Appleton's excellent "STRETCHING AND FLEXIBILITY: Everything you never wanted to know" would seem appropriate. "It is possible for the muscles of a joint to become too flexible. According to `SynerStretch', there is a tradeoff between flexibility and
stability. As you get "looser" or more limber in a particular joint, less support is given to the joint by its surrounding muscles. Excessive flexibility can be just as bad as not enough because both increase your risk of injury."

This invaluable resource may be found at the url http://www.cmcrossroads.com/bradapp/docs/rec/stretching/

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katharine kanter

13-03-02, 09:13 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: flexibility in children"
In response to message #1
   LAST EDITED ON 13-03-02 AT 09:16 AM (GMT)

The great professor Enrico Cecchetti was wont to say - not an exact quote, but a paraphrase - "a ligament is like an elastic band, with one critical difference: it does not bounce back. Once it has been overstretched, it never will regain its previous elasticity."

An over-stretched ligament allows you to do something YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING. An over-stretched ligament will shorten your career, perhaps by as much as a FIFTEEN YEARS.

Each individual joint in the body, as Trog has just explained, in each individual person, has its own peculiar range, or "ambitus" as the doctors call it. Ambitus can be scientifically determined, and once that has been done, one should never attempt to go beyond it. Children are highly flexible, but as they build up muscle strength in adolescence, their ambitus becomes reduced. In other words, natural ambitus alters with age.

Olympic gymnasts and circus acrobats are a poor example for a ballet dancer, indeed, the worst possible example, because their bodies are a shambolic wreck by the time they are 30, whereas ballet dancers should only be hitting their artistic stride by that age.

The notion of ideal flexibility has greatly altered over the last century, althought the human body has not altered, in its essentials, at all. If you watch a Bournonville (1805-1879) class or ballet, you will note that the emphasis is on strength, speed, firm floor contact, aplomb, placement, and correct use of the head, eyes and upper body. If you watch a typical "Balanchine", "Russian" or "Forsythe" class/performance today, you will note that the emphasis is 100% on hyperextensions (picking up the leg as high as possible), extreme flexibility, and very light floor contact.

One of the greatest problems we face in the ballet world today, is an irrational demand from instructors and from choreographers, for ever-greater flexibility. It is more "commercial".

Dancers can of course force themselves to do it. But that is precisely why most now retire before reaching the age of 30. They are as worn out, as used up, as a circus acrobat.

Keep an eye on your child's professor; if you find that he is demanding excessive "stretching", react.

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