Resource Papers and Fact Sheets
Turnout for Dancers: Supplemental Training
Tie the elastic band to the barre and lie on the back with the head toward the barre, legs parallel, and the knees flexed. Hold the end of the elastic band and do the curl, using the pull of the band to increase the resistance. This exercise should not be attempted unless there is already adequate strength to maintain a rounded spine and the activity of hollowing during the curl, and should not be done with straight legs, as it can place too much stress on the spine. In fact, for dancers who are unable to maintain the rounded spine and the hollowing activity during a curl, they can turn around and face the barre, and use the elastic band to assist them in curling up until they have gained sufficient strength to do a correct curl on their own.
Physioballs can be used to add challenges to balance and enhance proprioception. It is not recommended that the curling action come all the way to vertical sitting, as this moves the activity to the hip flexors, and the focus should remain the abdominals. With very advanced dancers who already have good abdominal strength and alignment, curls can be done on the ball starting in a full arch of the spine and curling to flexion, going through full range of the muscle action.
The dancer needs adequate length in the hip flexors to achieve neutral pelvic alignment. Hip flexor stretching can be done in a long low lunge, with the front leg parallel and the back knee resting on a mat, not the hard floor. Straightening the back leg engages the rectus femoris, which would compromise the effectiveness of this stretch. The pelvis should be maintained as neutral as possible and the image of the plumb line floating upward can help to keep the spine long. This area of the hip can also be stretched lying supine on a bench or table with the edge of the table or bench bisecting the two hip joints. Hold one leg at the chest to stabilize the pelvis and allow the other leg to hang off the end of the table, imagining the hanging leg heavy and released, the hip flexors melting and lengthening. Hip flexor stretching is vitally important to dancers in order to achieve neutral pelvis and to be able to use turnout effectively. See Figures 11-12.
This paper may be reproduced in its entirety for educational purposes, provided acknowledgement is given to the "International Association for Dance Medicine and Science."
Copyright © 2011 IADMS, Virginia Wilmerding, Ph.D., and Donna Krasnow, M.S.