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:

  • Gluteal muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae
    They are responsible for big movements in dance such as getting higher in 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
    Can often be overused in dance, giving rise to anterior and lateral hip pain. Learning how to release them and strengthening the antagonist muscles is the key to preventing misuse of these muscles
  • Turn out muscles: piriformis, superior gemellus, obturator internus, inferior genellus, and quadratus femoris
    These muscles lie underneath the 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 the gluteal muscles
    • Turn Out Exercise
      Try this simple exercise to feel and find your turn out muscles. Lie on your stomach and loop an exercise band around your right ankle:

      Bend your right knee to 90o and take it out to the side, keeping your pelvic triangle neutral and in contact on the floor, and buttock muscles relaxed.

      Bring you right foot slowly towards your left knee, as in a retiré position. 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