Ah, the plié: one of the most recognisable and fundamental Barre moves. When done correctly, it activates the glutes, adductors, hamstrings, quads, and more! But, how do you know you're executing your pliés properly?
1. Don't force your turnout.
You see your Barre-Tender with incredibly rotated hips, and toes sticking out side to side at almost 180 degrees. You try to mimic this by stepping your feet into the same position... DON'T! Everyone has different range of motion in their joints and muscles, and the hips are no different. If you step into turnout and try to force your feet into a flat angle, you will put strain on your ankles and knees which can cause some serious problems in the future. To find your natural, safe level of turnout, start in a parallel position with your toes and heels touching. Squeeze your glutes and rock back on your heels, slowly opening your feet to a V shape. When you can't open the feet out any further, you've found your natural turnout: place those toes down, and get your plié on! And hey, if you find you can reach that flat angle easily, then you might just be blessed with great rotation 😘
2. Keep your spine straight and torso upright.
This is the key difference between pliés and squats. In a squat, we bring the chest forward and send the hips backwards. This is not the same in a plié! When we plié, the shoulders should stay stacked on top of the hips, rather than dipping forward. We also want to think about bringing the pelvis into a neutral position, often by tucking it slightly forward. Be careful not to overtuck, or dip through the spine and stick your 🍑 out! The tailbone should point straight down toward the floor, and overall you should feel like you are sliding down a flat wall with ease.
3. Your knees should track over your second toe.
As you bend into your plié, take a look down at your feet: can you see your big toe? If your knees are falling forward and blocking your view of those toes, there are a few things that could be the culprit. Firstly, are you engaging your muscles? Be sure to squeeze through the glutes as you plié and push those adductors (inside thighs) backwards. Can you see your big toe now? If yes, great! If not, then you may be forcing your turnout. Bring those toes into a narrower V, or retry step 1! Your plié may also be too wide if you're in seconde position, which brings us to step number 4:
4. Size does matter! 😉
Be careful not to make your pliés too big or too small. This can cause the knees to fall forwards, or the heels to lift to compensate for the incorrect position of the feet. Seconde position should be approximately 2.5 of your own feet wide. To find your perfect second position, start with the heels together in turnout, and slide one foot out until your heel is where your toes were previously placed. Repeat this again, and finally slide your foot so that your heel ends up where your arch just was. This should be 2.5 of your own feet wide, and is the perfect position to then do those juicy grand pliés!
Did you find these 4 technique tips helpful for your Barre class? Let us know!