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Turn out and knees and all that


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So first I read this: http://www.esportsmedicine.org/advisory/lext.html


And shortly after my chiropractor assigned me the #4 stretch "a million times a day." I have tight rotators and glutes and probably hamstrings. And she's a dancer herself.


So my question is this #4 stretch a bad deal on one's knees?


#4 stretch being the one similar to the article but seated in a chair, one ankle over the other thigh, like a number 4.


I'm certainly not doing it a million times a day but I have been doing it as much as I think about it and I did get a nice comment on my plies last week in class, perhaps a result.

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Nice article. It is good to see former dancers involved in the academic, sports medicine aspects of life. I recommend anyone reading this read the link, and the associated links for that matter.


Regarding turn out, I’ve heard many a teacher say that turn out isn’t something you have, but is rather something you use. Also, my current favorite ballet teacher has less than 180 degree turn out, but had a 20+ year professional career.


Still, thanks for the link elise.

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Hi Elise,


Yes, I have seen this article before, and have it printed off. What I would echo is Cabriole's words of being very careful with regards to any twinges or discomfort in the knee.

I would also caution other dancers reading this article and remind them that Eilse is under the supervision of her chiropractor regarding these exercises, and that if you have any serious or underlying knee problems, I would run these exercises past your practioner before attempting. If you ignore this advice, at least listen to your body when attempting, pain is a sign to stop.



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I am wondering if the fact that the knee is bent gives extra support (in addition to flexing the foot as was mentioned)? I can see where forcing a turn out with straight knees will really twist things out of place but with the knee bend as in this stretch, am I successfully isolating the glutes and rotators without affecting the knee (assuming I am not "feeling" anything in the knee)?


My main goal with these stretches is to loosen up the areas deemed tight by my chiroprator and hopefully to expose some turn out that I have been told I have but just haven't been using. Imagine that, finding more turn out at 28 years old!

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This exercise is an accountant's dream. I can do the number 4 exercise at my desk. So I'm basically balancing the books and working on my turnout at the same time. Cabriole, thanks for the clue about the flexed foot.

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This is a very interesting topic.

I, for one, have weird legs. Standing with my feet together in parallel, one can see that my knees actually point INWARD! So when I take my feet from a first in parallel to a first turned out (achieving my "real" turnout), if one looks at me from the side it looks as though I'm twisting out just my feet and forgetting about my knees (which I really haven't). :D

Some teachers have told me to really work at rotating the thigh, but when I do this, I can feel my femur "grinding" in the socket because the knee actually points inward. Therefore it seems to me that regardless of how hard I work on turnout, as long as I have the joint sockets that I was born with, my plies will always look like the knee is front of the feet (not knee over second toes). Does anyone else have this problem or are naturally "bow-legged"?

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I too, when standing relaxed in sixth position, have legs that turn in naturally - I'm also slightly bowlegged, though not badly. I treat this the same way I treated my naturally pronating feet - as a skeletal weakness that can be moderated by correctly using my muscles. I learned (in sixth) how to squeeze my thighs, pull up around the knees, and engage the rotators, and then I look straight and aligned. I use the same muscle action for all the ballet positions as well - when I plie, I try to have my knees over my toes (of course my turnout is horrible - nothing like a 100 degree first position, sigh). I think it is the only healthy way.


I have never experienced a "grinding" in my hip socket. It sounds quite painful. If it happened to me I would visit a doctor right away!


Short version - gerlonda, I agree with your teachers. Knees over toes! :D



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It's absolutely normal for the lower leg to have more rotation than the upper one. Almost everyone is built this way. When I put my knees facing straight forward, the feet have a little turnout. With the feet parallel, the knees face inward slightly (very inward if I lock into hyperextension and let everything go lax). 90 degree rotation in the hips just doesn't really exist. About 70 percent will get you "180 degree" turnout, since the feet really do have a little bit more.


And I have never seen any dancer who's knees are completely over the middle of the foot. The top picture on that website demonstrates someone with a freakish amount of turnout. I see dancers all the time from ABT, City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem...barely anyone's got turnout like that.


*edited to add--yeah, grinding is no good. Better get that checked out

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