Forcing, Tucking and Gripping! Oh My!
Many alignment issues arise when trying to achieve maximum external rotation. Here are 3 issues that dancers can deal with:
1. ) Forcing
Turnout describes the position of the legs, in which each leg is rotated in the opposite direction from the other and facing away from the midline of the body. When focusing on turning out, think of laterally rotating the femur bone (thigh bone) with in the hip socket, utilizing the deep external rotator muscles to achieve correct form.
So what? Strengthening your external rotator muscles will help you rotate from the thigh bone rather than twisting or forcing from the foot or the knee to achieved the desired aesthetic.
The turnout muscles, are recruited for most functional movements in ballet. Dancers often attempt to achieve or increase these “turned out” positions with excessive motions of the ankle and knee or posteriorly tilting(tucking) the pelvis to give the visual of the required aesthetic.
So what? Learning to work in a neutral pelvis position will result in recruiting the correct muscle groups, therefore avoiding injury and skillfully performing required movements with ease.
There is a set of 6 small muscles deep inside the hip that act as the "turnout" muscles and function to laterally rotate the leg in the hip socket. Because the deep six are located under the gluteus maximus, typically one of the strongest muscles in your body, they are often overshadowed by it.
So what? When tucking or working in incorrect alignment you risk overusing other muscles groups. A dancer might try to get the effect of using the deep six muscle group by squeezing their glutes and this over recruitment may cause a lack of movement in the hip (lower extensions!) or an over developed buttocks.
When focusing on turnout the key is to concentrate on rotating from the leg while keeping a neutral pelvis. You will then be able to strengthen the desired muscle group and avoid the glutes working in over time.