Knee pain with improper turn-out

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Knee pain from improper turn-out

Preventing injury with proper technique

The turn-out position where the dancer stands with the feet in first position with the feet at 180 degrees will not be achieved by every dancer. Proper turn-out must be obtained gradually through focusing on hip rotation instead of foot placement. A dancer who forces his or her feet to turn out without the appropriate hip flexibility will put extra strain on the inside of the knee causing pain and possible injury.

All dancers train to improve their dance skills in order to look great for the main stage. While is it nearly impossible to fake a higher jump, it is, however, very common that dancers force their turn-out in hopes to improve their technique faster.

The shape of a dancer’s hip joint that they are born with cannot be altered by stretching or exercise. These limitations are made up by the depth of the acetabulum (place where your hip joint meets the pelvis) and the angle of head and neck of the femur (the top of the thigh bone). There are also ligaments in place to stabilize the hip, which can be hard to stretch for most people, causing another structural limitation for turn-out.

The muscles used to turn out the hip are the interaction between the external rotators and the internal rotators. The rule is to strengthen the external rotators like are the piriformis, the group of adductors, the sartorius, and the lower fibers of the gluteus maximus while stretching the internal rotators like the tensor fascia latae, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus.

There is no active turn-out possible below the hips. The friction of the foot on the floor allows for some passive turn-out, which if overly used will have damaging results to the knee. To prevent knee pain, the dancer should only turn out the feet if the thigh, knee cap, and foot can stay in proper alignment.

Other problems caused by forcing turnout

• Pelvis tilts forward causing sway back

• Abdominals get weaker

• Low back pain with a higher rate of stress fracture

• Rolling in on your feet putting too much strain on the big toe

• Weakness on the outer hamstrings

How to make sure you are not forcing your turn-out:

Start with your feet together in parallel. Lift up your toes at the same time and use your rotators to turn out your legs and put your toes back down. That is your natural turn-out. 

With proper technique, every dancer can maximize his or her turnout without pain or injury

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