Who has sat in front splits or “froggy” for hours on end, in the hope of increasing turnout range, only to find no difference except irritation in the front of your hips? You’re not alone! Increasing turnout range is one of the most challenging yet sought after aspects of technique for many dancers with most not knowing how to achieve it safely.
With the strong influence of social media, choreography in recent years has increased in complexity and intensity with dancers constantly being challenged to take their bodies into extreme positions and tremendous range of movement. Unfortunately, many dancers don’t know how to achieve their turnout range safely and often just try harder to push into restricted ranges. What may be surprising is that this is actually the slowest and most un-safe way to increase joint range, leading to increased risk of hip injury.
So how do we do it safely?
Firstly – A little on your bony hip anatomy…
NEWFLASH! Not everyone’s hips are made equally. Your hip is a ball and socket joint which allows for a great deal of movement. Depending on the placement angle of your acetabulum (socket) in relation to your femoral head (ball) will determine your ultimate range. This means that some hips will naturally sit differently to others. You might have noticed this people watching, with some people walking along with their toes facing in and others totally turned out (JEALOUS!!!).
Despite which end of the spectrum you tend to sit on, most dancers are not using anywhere near all of their available range. So, if you are a dancer who thinks “It just feels like my bones stop me from getting there”, don’t be so quick to blame what your mother gave you – it is not the end of your turnout!
Secondly – A little on the muscles needed!
Many dancers grip their big buttock muscles (Gluteus Medius and Maximus) to try and hold turnout and find when they lift their leg, they’re unable to maintain their turnout range. This is because your Gluteals are actually better designed for movement and stability, not for turnout! They can only perform one function at a time which means if they are turning out, they are not able to be movers and if they are being movers, they can not be used for turnout! If you are having difficulty maintaining turnout in raised leg position or having difficulty with gaining height with your jumps, it may be because you are using your movers for turnout muscles.
Turnout comes from your deep external rotators (of which you have 6).
These muscles act in different ways and ranges. standing turnout is controlled mainly by quadratus femoris however en fondu, your piriformis is more in charge. This is why you may sometimes feel like you have turnout in some positions and not in others. That’s right, you have to train your turnout muscles in all dancing positions. Unfortunately, there is no one magical turnout exercise that fits all.
If any of these situations sound familiar, make an appointment today with our physiotherapist Emily for specific turnout exercises to help gain your ultimate range!
If you are interested in dance, you should read our post on the 4 most common dance injuries.