Turn Out Exercises for Ballet Dancers
One goal of all ballet dancers is a 180-degree turnout of the hips while executing ballet moves. This is naturally easier for some to achieve than others; however, with the correct stretching and strengthening exercises anyone can increase their turnout. The turnout in ballet refers to the hips rotating out or opening up to 180 degrees, where the toes are pointed right and left, knees directly over the toes and hips directly lined up with the knees. It is necessary for dancers to gradually and naturally increase their turnout, since forced hip turnout can lead to alignment problems, back problems and knee and ankle injuries, notes Steven M. Apatow, Director of Research and Development, Sports Medicine & Science Institute.
The supine butterfly is a gently stretch that should follow a 10 to 15 minute dance warm-up. Begin lying supine, feet flat on the floor and feet and knees touching. Keeping the ankles and feet together, slowly allow the knees to softly fall to the sides. Hold this stretch once they are at the point where they will not go any farther for one to two minutes, breathing slowly. Next slowly take your hands and gently push on the inside of your legs, so the knees are extending more toward the floor. This is stretching your turn out past its current natural maximum state. This position should be more uncomfortable than the beginning, hold this for one minute and then relax back to the beginning pose.
The center split is a more advance version of the supine butterfly and puts more direct pressure on the hips. To help increase flexibility in your hips and widen your turnout, it is important to execute the center splits correctly, without any dancers cheats. Begin sitting upright, legs extended to each side. Push your legs until you have reached your maximum stretch, once in your maximum stretch slowly walk your hands on the floor in front of you until your torso touches the ground. If you can not reach the floor hold the position where you feel the most lengthening. In this position slowly shift all of your weight forward until your legs have rotated from knees pointing upright toward the ceiling to pointing forward. Support any extra weight on your torso or arms and gently push into a deeper center split. Hold for one to three minutes.
Band Rond De Jombe
The rond de jambe strengthens the abdominals, thighs and hips. The rotation of the movement requires strength and flexibility of the hip flexors. When performed with a dance band or exer-tube this movement is an effective way to increase joint range-of-motion in the hips for a wider turnout. Start standing inn second position with a band around both legs slightly below the knees. Rond de jombe right 10 to 12 times and then left. Make sure the band is never around the knee, only below or above.
- Sports Medicine and Science Institute: Turnout - Accentuated Stretch and Flexibility Exercises for Classical Ballet Training
- Classical Ballet Technique; Gretchen Ward Warren
- Dance Help: The Turn Out
- Dancer's Dozen; Gaynor-Minden
Based in Malibu, Calif., Shannon Sukovaty has been writing health-related articles since 1992. Her work has appeared in “Colorado Health” magazine, “Health and Fitness Journal” magazine and on various websites. Sukovaty is a certified personal trainer with undergraduate studies in exercise physiology and credentials from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the American College of Sports Medicine.