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Power Gymnast, looking for inner dancer?

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bribree123

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I'm on the USAIGC team at my gym and I am competing Gold this year which is like level 8 in USAG. As I watch videos I am disgusted with my horrible lines. I have like no flexibility. Last year suffering a back injury, that caused lower muscle damage to my back I'm looking for that flexibility back. In my spit leaps and jumps and switch leaps my back knee is always bent and I cannot feel it and DO NOT know how to fix it, and I'm getting tired of getting yelled at for it! I find a standing back tuck on beam eaiser than doing a split jump! lol. Sorry this is long, also my dance i just have that grace look, more like stiff and unnatural. Does anyone have and exersises, youtube videos, or advice for me? :rolleyes: Thank you!
 

Kiwi

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I'm no expert, but I'll give my 2 cents worth, so make of it what you will, lol! I found the 'Fronts Splits Fast' program by Lisa Howell great for feeling more flexible in the legs and spine...BUT...you've had a back injury, so I think you'd need to take advice from someone qualified (doctor or physiotherapist) about what you're okay to do, and what to avoid. The program is quite gentle but very effective, it isn't cheap, but I found it well worth the price.

We have a physio clinic here that specialises in treating dancers, and they also run dance pilates and other specialised programs for dancers to improve their jumps, flexibility and so on. So you could look around for something like that near you.

About your routines, I would play to my strengths, so don't try to be the graceful dancer, show off the power tumbler. With your choreography go for strong, punchy moves, they can still be dance-y and very dynamic. With music to suit, that is punchy energetic music, not the flowing classical kind.
 

gymgurl

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Seriously! Do not try and be something you're not! I am a power gymnast as well and lets be honest i have 0 grace. So instead i chose really powerful music and i love it, i wish i could dance but i had to accept i couldn't so went for a powerful piece that shows of my power:

Optional floor routine - level 6 - YouTube
 

Life.is.good

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Jul 25, 2012
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Have you taken any ballet classes or yoga for flexibility? My hockey son swears by yoga for his flexibility. Ballet will help teach you grace. But remember you can not become something over night it will take time, patience and practice. Best of luck!
 
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Mack_the_Ripper

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You're not really looking for dance training, you're looking for flexibility. First of all make sure you push yourself on the flex training you do at the gym. When you warm up, make sure your splits are down and square with pointed toes and straight legs! Seems obvious, but just making sure you train that simple position well will make it easier to hit in the air. When you do oversplits, get your shoulders back (this will help with back flex also). If you don't do oversplits at the gym, do them at home.

I can recommend some active flexibility drills as well as other things.
For back flexibility and hip flexibility
- oversplits with your back leg on the mat, not your front. Put your knee on a mat, facing away from it, and go into a split. Try to touch the mat behind you with both your hands.
- Double bent-knee against a wall. Do a deep lunge with your back foot bent up against a wall, like a double-stag position. Then arch back and try to touch your head to the wall or to your leg.
- Ring split against a wall. After doing the above stretch, slide down into a split with your leg bent against the wall. Make sure your leg is pointing straight up behind you - it's okay if you can't go quite all the way down. Arch back here too.
- Find a clear doorway in your home. Now go into a split with your front foot at the base of the doorway and your back foot sliding up it. Grab onto the other side of the doorway and push. Try sliding your front foot out so you are in oversplits and pushing against the doorway to arch your back.

Active flex (you can also do all of these with weights on your ankles)
- Kicks. 2x25 kicks forwards, backwards, sideways.
- Kicks lying down, same as above. You can do the backwards ones on your knees
- Ring kicks and needle kicks, 2x15. You can also do ring kicks on your knees.
- Lying on your back with your legs in the air, moving quickly to a straddle and back up again. 2x15
- Split jumps on a trampoline, 2x15 each way including straddle. You can also do switch-split jumps here.

I'm sorry if I over-explained some of these, I'm not sure how much you already do.
 

SuperGirlmlm

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Oct 3, 2011
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I'm also a power gymnast, with decent flexibility, but a terrible dancer. My back is so bad, I can't even do a back walkover.
I fixed it by taking dance lessons. One of my teammates used to be an amazing dancer, but she quit for gymnastics, so she volunteered to help me with my dancing.
 

jcs

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Jun 11, 2011
144
Connecticut
In my spit leaps and jumps and switch leaps my back knee is always bent and I cannot feel it and DO NOT know how to fix it, and I'm getting tired of getting yelled at for it!
I would talk to your doctor about this one, especially since you had a back injury. I know this is a bizarre comparison, but the toes on my left foot separate with no problem at all, but the toes on my right I actually have to focus and concentrate on separating them. For some reason the action just doesn't happen automatically. This is not medical advice, but it could be because of the injury you need to retrain your leg to straighten, does that make sense? Which is why I would talk to your doctor. PT may help, or some of the exercises already suggested.
 
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CoachGoofy

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I find the power gymnast vs graceful gymnast a false dichotomy. Being able to dance & being strong are not mutually exclusive (says one of those jerks who can do both).

It sounds like you need to talk to a PT. Back injuries are not to be messed with, & if you're doing something weird to protect it unconsciously you could be messing up your proprioception a bit. They'll have exercises & stretches that the internet does not.
 
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bribree123

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Thanks so much everybody for you input! I've been taking dance now for a little, and starting up yoga :) hopefully it'll start working! Thanks everybody again! :)
 
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iwannacoach

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I don't know anyone who can feel bent legs, they're just to relaxed and unresponsive to feel, so you don't know what they're doing. So if you don't know what your legs are doing how are you going to learn more difficult skills.....you really gotta know where your body parts are at if your going to have any control over them.

Get this figured out.....you can feel straight legs, especially when you first make this change......straight legs can be felt, bent legs not......straight legs are the ones that feel like they're cramping up just above the knees....so look at the gymnast in the mirror for help, inspiration, and change.
 

Kiwi

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I think a lot of gymnasts have that problem that their leg is almost straight, when it feels straight there is still just a tiny bend. Maybe you have to practice really pulling your knee back so you know the feeling when it is really straight.
 

CreateMagic

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In my spit leaps and jumps and switch leaps my back knee is always bent and I cannot feel it and DO NOT know how to fix it, and I'm getting tired of getting yelled at for it!
Try taking a theraband and making a loop on each end for your ankles. With your ankles in the loops (so that essentially your legs are tied together with the theraband about a foot or so apart--does that make sense?) try kicking/lifting one leg forward and then backward, keeping it straight the entire time. If you bend your leg, the band doesn't stay as tight and you are able to feel the difference quickly. This had made a big difference in my team's split jumps!
 

iwannacoach

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When you lift your leg up behind you, you have to think of lifting the back of your knee by using your gluteal muscles....and not your hamstrings (well not so much). When you lift your leg up in front you need to concentrate on lifting the front of your ankle.....
 
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