Many ballet dancers can increase their ballet turnout simply by getting stronger in the muscles that hold turnout, to the degree that they have, or think that they have. This article will discuss the determining factors about your turnout. Can you actually get more turned out?
What Is Range Of Motion?
What kind of movement does your hip joint allow? This may be different from somebody else's hip joint. The hip joint is loosely described as a ball and socket joint. Make a fist with one hand, and a cup with the other. Place the fist in the cup - you will be able to turn the fist every which way to a certain degree without removing it from the cup. This is called range of motion. Now let's examine what gives you, the ballet student, increased range of motion for more ballet turnout.
The Different Angles Of The Femoral Neck
The femoral neck is the top of your thigh bone that angles the "ball" part of the thigh into the "socket" of the hip joint. Some angle sharply upward, a small degree of an angle. Some angle about forty-five degrees, and others angle into the hip socket at about an eighty degree bend. At any of these angles, the thigh would have almost limitless ranges of motion - including turnout - except for the:
Iliofemoral Ligament Which Inhibits Motion
Something has to hold your thigh in the hip socket, right? Your body is very smart, so this ligament is created to be the strongest in the human form. Lack of range of movement equals stability, unless you are a dance student. If you are not a dancer, then having a very taut ligament going over the hip joint is a huge asset. The joint will tolerate lots of pressure. If you have just average muscle strength, this joint will survive a lot of strenuous movement. If you are a dancer and have a less taut femoral ligament, you will rotate the thighs as needed fairly easily. If you learn to strengthen the rotator muscles and not clench the surrounding butt (gluteals) muscles, and strengthen your core muscles, you will have CONTROL of your turnout.
The Socket Part of The Joint - Its Own Angle And Shape
The socket that the ball part of the thigh bone fits into, can be of varying shape. It can face forward slightly, giving an individual natural "turn-in". It can face more sideways, giving the lucky ballet student more turnout, even before the fact of rotation.
When Should You/Your Child Start Turnout?
When to start ballet in pointe shoes is a common question - but here is another important one. When should a child start turnout? Many medical authorities agree that eight years old is the minimum age to start serious ballet. The ligament at the hip joint and the actual architecture of the hip will grow differently with the technical exercises of classical technique. If ballet technique is properly taught, and properly comprehended. When it is not, usually the knee joints are the first to feel the strain. And other joints will eventually follow with the damage. The ligaments and soft tissues surrounding all the body's joints are altered by the persistent and gentle pressure of good ballet/dance training. But the joints must be protected by the development of ALL the associated muscles.
Adult ballet beginners, yes, you have missed the years when your body was more malleable. But since you are not aiming for a professional performing ballet career, rejoice in your ability to hold the turnout that you have, and enjoy the elegance of ballet, with which to enrich your soul. Your leaning to this artistry and deep appreciation is not be underestimated; men in ballet too!
Turnout Is A Movement Not A Position
Turnout is rotating the whole leg as one unit. Disregarding the professional fifth position, you must rotate the leg as a whole.
So we have discussed the (1) angle of the femoral head, (2) the shape and angle of the hip socket, and (3) the elasticity of the strong iliofemoral ligament that holds the thigh in place in the hip joint.
The next most closely associated factor is the flexibility of the surrounding muscles, to the hip joint. But I'll stop here, because I am not writing a book. Fortunately, someone else with expert ballet tips already has. I recommend this book for all dancers and ballet teachers, as it is the best for learning everything about how to increase ballet turnout.
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