Improve Your Turn Out

Dancers are constantly being asked to use their “turn out” in dance by their teachers. What does this mean? Knowing exactly what and where these muscles are would 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.

Let us first take a look at what these muscles are.

hip stretch

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

Turn Out Exercise

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 yellow or red (lighter resistance) band as anything more may result in too much gluteal muscle contraction.

Need Help Improving Your Turn Out?

Whether you need help with your turn out or are dealing with injury, your physiotherapist can help

Phone 604-738-1168

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Frequently Asked Questions

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 their legs up to 90o for each side.

Q: How does a dancer improve their turn out?

A: There are many 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.

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.