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Unbalanced Turnout

Guest LaurieM

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Guest LaurieM

After reading another thread about forcing turnout, I realised that's exactly what I've been doing, albeit involuntarily. While I can achieve a solid 2nd position with my left leg, I don't have the same degree of turnout with my right, so in order to achieve a "solid" 2nd with that leg, I either have to force myself into that position (ack!), or "lead" with my hips. (I don't think I've explained that correctly - I mean that instead of keeping my hips squared and leveled, I would sort of move it / tip it sideways so that my foot could be out to 2nd without actually needing to be turned out. Hope that makes sense. Of course, in doing so it becomes slightly more difficult to maintain the good turnout on my other leg.)


Are there any good ways to work on balancing your turnout? At the moment, I just stand in whichever position the leg with the LEAST amount of turnout can comfortably stand in.

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LaurieM -- I'm not sure I completely understood your question, but I just wanted to say that you are not alone. Asymmetrical turnout is a drag. :yucky:


If you have very unbalanced turnout, especially if the problem is structural, I'd suggest working with a good teacher or, better yet, a dance-oriented PT.


I started ballet enthusiastically and only discovered later that my right hip has noticably less rotation than the left. This led to a series of knee trouble, irritated tendons etc. I'm just getting over those problems after more than a year of work on the alignment issues caused by the problem hip. For the record, the PT measured my structural rotation as maybe 45-50 degrees on the right leg and 75-80 on the left leg, iirc.


I think the problem with asymmetric turnout is that it is harder to work correctly and with good alignment, since each leg feels different... for example, grands battements alternatively to each side feels lopsided, and in arabesques, the bad hip has to open up more.


What has worked for me is working diligently with my own alignment. I stand in a pitiful 100 degree first position, and prefer third to fifth at the barre. I keep my hips square and don't cheat to get the right leg more turned out. As a beginner, I feel this is better for my technique, even though it doesn't do much for line... I've also been strengthening the supporting muscles, e.g. vastus medialis and the sides of the calves, so that I get my weight distributed correctly on my right foot and don't try to pronate. Keeping the adductors loose and stretched is a good idea, too.


On the other hand, it is not an insurmountable problem by any means -- one can still do ballet :grinning:


I'd be curious to hear from others with this kind of problem, too.

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Guest abc4dance

The idea of seeing a dance based PT or bio mechanics specialist is a good one. Very often when there is asymmetry in turnout there is a structural reason in the body for this. Something as simple as one leg slightly shorter than the other will change how you use your turnout. How you use your body in day to day life can also affect your turnout. Little compensations in your body throughout your normal routine affect the muscular firing patterns, strength differences and range of movement. A PT can determine if the difference is structural or not and give you ideas on safe ways to adjust your body.

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Excellent suggestion, abc4dance. Thank you. It makes great sense to me to first find out the cause of that amount of asymmetry, and then have someone with knowledge figure out how to adjust you to work with it.

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I also have assymetrical turnout, with my left leg being my less mobile leg. My PT said that I have a lot of room for improving my turnout because my problem is partially related to the capsule (the stuff around the joint) and not the joint itself. Of course, she can't tell me exactly how much room I have for improvement but I am a little encouraged by her prognosis. Through PT and regularly doing a series of yoga-related hip openers, I am beginning to see improvement. And this, after a year of seeing a little to no improvement. The PT suggestion is definitely a good idea. You have to know the nature of the problem before you can begin to work with it.

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Guest LaurieM

Sorry if I didn't explain myself properly (eloquence has never been a strong point of mine, lol), but your replies were exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

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With regard to body symmetry, let me say that we humans are not naturally symmetrical. We are naturally asymmetrical. That goes for turnout. No matter how symmetrical a person’s turnout may appear, rest assured it is isn’t. You just don’t notice the difference in some people because the difference is small.


The question then might be how does one reduce the variation in turnout (or any other asymmetry for that matter)? The answer lies in being patient and developing skill. With time and persistence, variation in turnout is highly likely to decrease (but never disappear). Conventional practice in dance is to work both left and right sides equally, which would seem to address the problem.

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Since I'm seeing a PT right now for a hip related situation I thought I would share... I'm recovering from arthroscopy and am working to rebuild the strength and range of motion in my hip. I've doing basic isometric exercises for 2 weeks and have been working on just gently turning my leg in and out in the socket, etc. This week I felt ready to do some very basic exercises from the warm up from one of my favorite modern classes and testing things like demi plie and tendus. (I got the ok from my PT and we went through all the exercises together).


Since I don't have full rotation in the right hip yet I asked the PT if it was ok to work with the left leg more rotated, or if I should keep both legs at the amount of rotation that was comfortable and safe for the right leg. She said to go with latter, since having my legs rotated different amounts could cause some stress through the pelvis. So the plan is to work slowly and gently back to my full rotation, starting with what is comfortable on the right (or, "full" for me, with is not stellar :clapping: ).


For the left side, which is normal*, I do some extra rotating in and out in the socket, so that I continue to move that hip through it's full range of motion and maintain the rotation on that side. (*see above comment re: full :rolleyes: )

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