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splits question


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Just a quick question..... I was reading an article by David Howard in the latest Dance magazine where he briefly touched on the topic of stretching and splits, and said to make sure the back leg is not turned out, but that the knee is facing the floor when doing the splits. It caught my eye because I have Pavel Tsatsouline's book "Relax into Stretch", and he also emphasizes keeping the back knee toward the floor in a split. My teacher has always asked us to turn out both legs in a split, so the knees are facing opposite walls. I never questioned it because hey! this is ballet, everything is turned out! So what's the deal? Neither David Howard not the Stretch book explain why it is so important not to turn out both legs in a split. Is there a good reason of which I am currently unaware? :wink:

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Guest Tiger

I have heard many opinions about this. My opinion is that too much is made of the quetion about whether to turn out or not. I think that when people say not to turn out the back leg, the real goal they have in mind is to align the hip square. Usually, when the back leg is turned out, the hips open up. Correcting this fully is something that I have seen few people be able to achieve.


Keeping the hips even and facing forward usually requires turning the rear leg parallel (knee facing the floor). Then, the hip flexors experience a stronger stretch as the upper part of the rear leg is pressed downward. Bending the rear leg will add a quadraceps stretch ... and try to do that with no hands if you want to know how close to being square you really are.


As for the front leg, mine naturally turns out a little as I square my hips. I think this is OK. I'd say let the front leg do whatever (except turn-in!) and try to focus on keeping your hips square.

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Actually, it depends on what you are working on. If you working on arabesque, then you want it turned out. However, there is a stretch to different muscles with the back leg turned in too. I generally teach it from 4th position and have it turned out, and later on the dancers learn by themselves to move around in the position and get different areas stretched.

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Guest kristinene

Outside of ballet I've been told that turning the back leg out will cause pressure (possible damage) to the knee if the split isn't fully down on the ground. I've seen some girls with whom this is certainly a problem, but others (who also aren't fully down) seem able to use the different leg muscles to support the knee. For me, I turn the back leg out as much as I can, but I'm very aware of this problem and hold back if I feel pressure on my knee. My splits are rather cantankerous, and I may be down one day and far from it another - I let my body tell me what it needs.

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