Turnout (A dancer’s worst nightmare)
A common problem for dancers is finding the correct muscles to optimize our turnout. Especially as ballerinas we are always dancing in turnout. Although it can be difficult, activating these muscles and strengthening them is possible. The most important group of muscles used to turn out are the deep outward rotators. Because they are so small they are often hard to find. They are located slightly deeper and lower then the gluteus maximus.
Step 1: Learn about the anatomy of the hip. Look at pictures of the acetabulum, femur, and pelvis. Knowing the anatomy of the hip joint makes activating them much easier.
Step 2: Search for them. Place the hand under the gluteus maximus to find them. Physical tactile contact is the best way to find them. When they are contracted they don’t feel clenched, but they produce a small contraction.
Step 3: Activating them. Think of a spiraling motion to activate them. Imagine spiraling and rotating the femur in the hip socket to activate them. Another cue to activate them would be thinking of dropping the greater trochanter to the sits bones. In order to strengthen them it is necessary to do exercises. These muscles aren’t naturally strong, but Pilates exercises can help! Specific exercises created by Karen Clippinger like Prone Internal Rotation, Hip Rotation on Elbows, Wall “V”, and Prone Frog can help. These can all be found in her book Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology.
Dancers may need to stretch their hip internal rotators in order to activate the deep outward rotators. After activating these deep outward rotators, stretching them out is also very important.