In dance, especially ballet, the hip external rotators are constantly recruited for most functional movements.
This action can lead to tight, imbalanced muscles which can prevent you from reaching your potential rotation and flexibility. Keeping these muscles supple while learning to isolate them by turning out from the leg in relation to the pelvis will help you achieve a more free, fluid movement.
The yoga pose, King Pigeon, effectively targets the deep outward rotators (DOR) which includes the piriformis muscle and the gluteus maximus. The piriformis muscle is the most powerful player in external rotation of the leg, particularly in classical ballet.
"The piriformis muscle and its tendon have an intimate relationship to the sciatic nerve-the largest nerve in the body-which supplies the lower extremities with motor and sensory function. Due to the nature of dance and the emphasis on hip rotation and turnout, the piriformis muscle can become tight and restricted in dancers. The proximity of the piriformis muscle to the sciatic nerve can cause pain to radiate into the buttock and lower extremity." - Harkness Center for Dance Injury
Opens your hip flexor muscles (psoas, rectus femoris) and your groin muscles.
Opens your hip rotator muscles.
May relieve sciatic nerve tension and ease chronic low back pain.
Advanced version opens your chest and shoulders.
- Modify this stretch if you have knee, meniscus or ligament injuries.