how to improve turn out

How To Improve Your Turn Out, Tips And Exercises

Dancers are constantly being asked to use their “turn out” in dance by their ballet teachers. What exactly is “turn out” and is it important? Which muscles, joints and other body parts are involved in turn out? Knowing exactly what and where these muscles are may help your understanding of how to ‘turn on’ these muscles.Very often, dancers confuse their turn out muscles thinking they are the big buttock muscles (gluteal muscles) that are used for bigger movements such as jumps. In fact, overusing theses muscles, as in gripping your buttocks, would actually lock up your hips, giving you less mobility and turn out in your hips.

There are 3 main muscle groups involved in turn out. Let us first take a look at what these muscles groups and the little muscles that make up each group:

turn out muscles

Introducing Your Turn Out Muscles

Gluteal muscles
Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae
This group of muscles are responsible for the big movements in dance such as getting higher in your jumps, controlling a fondu or getting your leg up in derriere

Muscles in the front of your hips
Psoas, iliacus, tensor fasciae latae, and the short adductor muscles
These muscles can often be overused in dance, leading to pain in the front or side of your hip. Learning how to release them and strengthening the opposite muscles is key to preventing misuse of these muscles

Turn out muscles
Piriformis, superior gemellus, obturator internus, inferior genellus, and quadratus femoris
These muscles lie under your big gluteal muscles and control most of your turnout in dance. It is important to learn how to use them so you do not overuse the other big hip muscles, such as the muscles in front of your hips and your gluteal muscles

A Simple Turn Out Exercise At Home

Try this simple exercise to feel and find your turn out muscles:

  1. Lie on your stomach and loop an exercise band around your right ankle
  2. Bend your right knee to 90o and take it out to the side, keeping your pelvic triangle neutral and in contact on the floor
  3. Keep your buttock muscles relaxed
  4. Bring you right foot slowly towards your left knee, as in a retiré position
  5. Then slowly release it back to the starting position

You should feel some muscles deep into your buttock working. If not, try to relax your gluteal muscles more or increase the tension of the exercise band by tying it shorter. You can use either a red or yellow (lighter resistance) band as anything more may result in too much gluteal muscle contraction.

You can try working your way up to doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each leg, with a couple minutes rest between your sets. At the point of maximum tension, try and hold the position for 2 seconds before releasing and returning back to your starting position. Try and keep your movements smooth, slow and controlled. Avoid jerky or sudden motions

Do You Need Help Improving Your Turn Out?

Whether you need help with your turn out or are dealing with injury, your dance physiotherapist can help. Your dance physiotherapists are experts at helping you with many different dance, gymnastic, figure skating and performing arts related challenges.

From treatment of injuries to creating a rehab program to prevent them. Speak with your dance physiotherapist about how you can improve your technique and performance. They can assess your condition and recommend the most effective treatment plan to help you feel better and perform your best

Phone 604-738-1168

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Frequently Asked Questions About Turn Out And Dance Physiotherapy

Q: What does turn out mean in dance?

A: “Turn out” means how much a dancer can rotate their hips out, or so that their toes are facing away from each other. For example, in ballet, the goal is often for you to be able to turn out your legs up to 90o for each side, though this can be difficult and is not recommended for everyone

Turn out helps your ability to lift your legs to the side and to the back. It is considered to be an important part of classical ballet technique. To measure turnout, the angle formed by your feet and heels when they are together is calculated

Q: How does a dancer improve their turn out?

A: Your ability to turn out is in part controlled by the shape of your hip bones, the angle your hip bones are positioned in, how elastic your ligaments are and how flexible your muscles are. Some things such as the shape and angle of your hip bones are difficult to change.

However, there are a few things you can do to improve your turn out. These include making sure you have good alignment, stretching and strengthening the small muscles in your hips, using discs and understanding the anatomy of your body. The more you understand about how your body works and how the various muscles and joints move together, the better you will be able to address any issues

Q: Is it okay for me to have less turn out?

A: Each dancer has their own strengths. Some people have really good flexibility. Others have mastery over their art and technique. Some professional dancers will have less turn out than others. Most of your turn out will be initiated in your hips, not your knees. If you are not able to reach full turn out, do not try to force your feet into the position. This can lead to injuries in other areas of your body from your lower back, hips, knees and down to your feet

Q: What muscles help you to turnout in ballet?

A: Turn out involves many different muscles groups in your hips and legs. The main 3 categories are the large muscles making up your glutes, muscle in the front of your hip as well as several smaller muscles beneath your main glute muscles.

Other factors that affect your ability to turn out include how elastic the ligaments are that connect your hip to your pelvis, as well as the angle which your hip bone is connected to your pelvis