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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tibial torsion


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I think I have tibial torsion - for all my life I have noted that my feet stick out naturally, even when my knees are pointed forward. If I put my feet in parallel slightly apart, and bend my knees, then they (my knees) meet. The 'knees over toes' rule is never going to work out for me! When I was a child I had orthotic shoes to correct my rolling in, which I believe is often associated with this kind of skeletal structure.


What bothers me is that I get told off for looking like I'm forcing my turnout from the feet, when actually I'm not. My (not very good) teacher when I was a teenager roared laughing when I protested 'It's the way they're attached to my legs!'. But it is! Clearly nothing I can do in ballet is going to twist my shin bones back :clapping: ... or at least I hope not. But has anyone got any idea how to make this *look* a bit better? And how to make dancing with this kind of body as unlikely to cause injury as possible? And what happens in exams and so on, where people don't know that that's just how you're built? :thumbsup:



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Ruby, if it is actually tibial torsion, the only thing that you can do is learn how to place your legs, in every single position, so that they look turned out. This will involve actually using LESS rotation that you are capable of doing from the hips. If you have tibial torsion, you can have good rotation from the hips, and the feet can turn out, but the lower leg does not. So, you have to move your positions to where you make them LOOK turned out, even if it involves less rotation that you have from the hips. It's not easy, but possible. This particular leg shape often happens in one leg more than the other, although sometimes it is both. It also seems to occur more often in Asian people, and I have no idea why that is.

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Thank you, Ms Leigh, for your reply. I haven't had this analysed anywhere, it's just an observation on my construction. I will spend some time in front of the mirror! Trouble is, my turnout isn't that good anyway, so I don't look like my feet are pointing backwards so much as that my knee is dropping (I may be guilty here as well). But as you say, all I can do is work out what looks best! That 'knees over toes' correction is probably always going to irk me :) .

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It should be possible to make that happen, ruby, but you will have to keep your feet less turned out. Make very sure that you are aligned correctly, and that you are turning out from the hip. Turn out the feet only as much as the hip will allow. To do this, stand in parallel, flex one foot and turn that leg out from the hip, then place it on the floor in first position. Do the same with the other. (Use the mirror for this so that you don't distort your alignment by looking down.) Then do a demi plié and see if your knees are tracking over your toes. If not, then you will need to turn out a bit less. It will take some experimenting, and preferably some help from your teacher, to find the right place.

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Ruby, I've got what sounds like the same kind of problem in both legs. The amount of torsion is different in each leg, just like Ms. Leigh said. I also have quite limited rotation (something like 50 degrees on my bad side).


I can make my knees track over the second toe if I have to, but my PT says this is inadvisable as it makes the foot supinate too much which leads to other problems. The correct tracking for my legs seems to be on top of the big toe or even slightly inwards from that -- which means that it's really important to pull up well, keep the arches lifted, and keep the innermost quad muscles (the vastus medialis, mostly) strong.


For me it's been invaluable to have good PTs, as well as teachers who help me focus on placement and maintaining rotation without forcing it at all. It's important for me to work correctly, with consistent rotation and good weight placement and alignment, all the time... and ballet looks tolerable even with these limitations, when one does it right :huepfen:


(Feel free to PM me if I can be of help :hyper:)




- Sanna

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I have the tibial torsion too...more in one than the other. I make point to tell new teachers and show them that if one forces my knee over the toe in plie, that my heel comes off the floor.

I actually have uneven turnout too, so I can have my feel looking equally turned out, but the one knee looks pretty badly turned in at the time.

I was blessed to have one fabulous teacher way back in college who was the first to not only take the news in stride, but simply say just work on keeping the rotation out from the hips.

Most prior to that looked at me with wonderment at why I was there at all. I still find it worthwhile to show the teacher the situation in a private moment before the first class or even just after.

Good luck.



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:angry: Somehow missed these updates on this thread, sorry!


Thank you very much Ms Leigh for this advice. I have been trying the turning out with a flexed foot trick, and it does help (especially if I'm not looking down!). As you say, it is possible to get my knees over my toes in certain ways, although I still don't understand quite why. Everything Sanna describes rings true as well. I really don' t understand what's happening in my legs at all, since my turnout in the butterfly stretch looks like it should be better than it works out (I know this is partly to do with my ability to hold it). Strengthening all those inner muscles will help, I am sure. And Laschwen, you are right that it's easier to explain these things and ask for help privately rather than get flustered at the barre when receiving corrections.


I would love to get some good advice from a physio, but since I don't have an actual medical problem I feel like the UK National Health Service wouldn't really be ready to dish this out. And sadly, I am a poor student and haven't really got spare cash to go privately. But thank you everyone on BT4D, I never cease to be charmed by the people who come out of the woodwork and say 'me too!' and offer their help when I describe some personal wrangle with my body. :pinch:

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