Resource Papers and Fact Sheets
Turnout for Dancers: Supplemental Training
Both the external rotators and the internal rotators (gluteus medius and minimus) need to be stretched by dancers. The external rotators can get tight from overuse and can be stretched lying on the back, bending one knee and drawing that parallel leg across the body, keeping the pelvis on the floor. For some people, however, this stretch is irritating or ineffective, and a version of the yoga "pretzel” can be used instead. Sit with one leg folded on the floor, and cross the opposite leg over, placing that foot on the floor. Turn the body to face the knee that is off the floor, and using the opposite arm, draw the knee toward the shoulder trying to maintain both "sitz” bones on the floor. See Figure 29.
The internal rotators, if tight, can limit range of motion in external rotation. Since they are also hip abductors, an effective way to release them is to place the hip in an adducted, externally rotated position, which can be achieved lying on the back. Bring one leg up toward the chest with the knee bent, turn out, and slowly draw it across the body, maintaining the turnout and keeping the pelvis on the floor. It is important to stabilize the pelvis and to remain externally rotated or the stretch will not be effective for the target muscles (gluteus medius and minimus). Another useful stretch can be done in hip extension, which adds the tensor fascia latae. Start in the hip flexor lunge stretch described previously. Slightly turn out the front leg and rotate the pelvis to face that leg, placing the opposite hand (as front leg) on the floor for support. Lower the pelvis toward the floor, bending the body sideways in the opposite direction. You might need to move around in this position slightly until the stretch in the target area is experienced. See Figure 30.
Come to standing in first position, turned out. Take some time to experience the alignment of the pelvis and the organization of the legs in relation to the spine. Move into a demi plié imagining a huge diamond widening the knees out over the feet. Without thinking about straightening the legs, imagine that the pelvis is floating upward as the waist narrows and hollows, and that the magnets on the inner thighs are being drawn together and forward. Imagine the thighs sliding down the front of the leg and the buttocks sliding down the back of the leg as the inner thighs gather under the rising pelvic floor.
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.