2 Exercises to Improve the Height of Your Leg Extension

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So we all want higher leg extension. Don’t I know it! So we stretch and stretch until we can’t stretch anymore, and yet, when we lift our legs at the barre, we still can’t get it as high as we want it. So what do we need to do to increase our extension? Here’s how to really get that leg high and your spirits higher when it comes to extensions:

Side note: Any exercises done to improve leg strength and flexibility should also be supplemented by exercises that strengthen the abdomen and pelvis. Leg strength alone isn’t enough without a strong core and stable pelvis.

Strength: So as you may or may not know, strong quadriceps (the muscles in the fronts of the thighs) are necessary to get your leg up to about 90 degrees, but to get your leg higher, the muscles in the back are the ones that need to be used. In particular, the muscle that connects the spine to the thigh (called the iliopsoas or hip flexors) which is located behind your abdominal muscles and controls the movements of the hip joint. ?So if you can’t get your extension ?above 90 degrees, i?t’s probably this muscle that you’ll want to strengthen. ?H?ow do you do it?

Place your foot onto a high barre (or high counter/surface in your house).
Using the muscles underneath (be sure not to use those quads!), raise your leg off the barre. Make sure to keep that leg turned out and your supporting leg straight!
Concentrate on those muscles under your hip and spine, make sure they are engaged, and try to lift your leg even higher.
Hold your leg there for a few seconds and then relax.
Repeat.
Understand that it will take time and hard work to increase the height of your extension. Try to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to achieve results.
Flexibility: Sometimes these hip flexors become stressed and tight since they continuously work to support the body (which can prevent your potential for your highest leg extensions), so along with the above strengthening exercise, here is a stretching exercise to practice as well:

This should be done in three sets of ten repetitions on both legs. Try to do these three times a week.

Sit in a long sit position with your back straight and both legs extended frontwards.
Lean back on your hands
Turn one leg out with the knee slightly bent like a front attitude.
Keep the other leg bent with your foot flat on the floor.
Lift the leg in attitude slowly and then bring it back down again, in three sets of ten repetitions.
You want to use your quads as little as possible and really work the hip flexors.
Another side note: When it comes to extensions, dynamic stretching (actively moving a joint through the range of motion where the end position is not held) is always preferable to static stretching (holding a stretch with no movement). Why? The hip is a ball and socket joint, so it needs to be stretched in the round in a range of motion (for example from devant to a la seconde to derriere and back again). While doing splits in every direction is great and all, you need to have mobility in the round, not just straight line flexibility.

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