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The Perfect Plié

Does your dancer suffer from low back, hip, knee, ankle or foot pain? Assessing some of the simplest steps in ballet can give you insight into what complex motions might look like. The plié is basic, yet one of the most important movements in ballet. Making a plié part of your evaluation of the dancer can provide the healthcare practitioner with information on how the dancer is loading their soft tissue through class.

Biomechanically during a plié, there is hip flexion, knee flexion, ankle dorsiflexion, and rearfoot eversion that are all performed in a closed kinetic chain. Specifically at the hip, we ideally want to observe dissociation of the pelvis from the femur. If the femur and pelvis do not dissociate during a plié, we will see our dancer with a posterior pelvic tilt. This puts excess strain on the soft tissue of our spine and hip, and increased forces through the other joints in the lower extremity.

Below, a proper plié is demonstrated with hip dissociation on the left, and an improper plié with a posterior pelvic tilt is on the right.

Educate your dancer on proper alignment during a plié in parallel and in turn out. Hip dissociation remains the same, despite the change in hip external rotation. Performing a plié without hip dissociation inhibits the use of our turn out muscles, causing the dancer to gain their turn out from other joints in the lower extremity. 60% of our turnout should come from the hip, and if the dancer pliés in a posterior pelvic tilt, the deep hip external rotators cannot be accessed. Read more here about re-educating turn out in your dancer.

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