Whilst living in his native Germany, the works of Joseph Pilates caught the eye of dance industry giants such as Hanya Holms and Rudolf Laban. In 1926, he decided to leave his homeland, and emigrate to the dance capitol of the world: New York City. He opened a Hell’s Kitchen studio, and became the renowned fitness guru of dancers and athletes. At the time, turn-out, which is external hip rotation, could make or break a dancer. Some ballet masters were using aggressive methods of developing turnout, which would indeed, break a dancer for life.
Challenging the Ballet Masters
Dance medicine experts at New York City’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries explain that turn out comes from the hips, and not the knees. That’s why the ballet master’s method of hitting the dancer’s knees with a baton was both dangerous and ineffective. Through a series of carefully designed external hip rotation exercises, Pilates helped dancers achieve the coveted turn out.
The Turn-Out Mystique
In addition to hip muscle mobility, core support and pelvic are essential to turn-out in dynamic dancing. Faulty pelvic alignment puts your muscles at a biomechanical disadvantage, making it impossible to engage the muscles needed for turn-out. Lower leg alignment is also essential. For example, if a dancer stands on pronated or supinated feet, balance is compromised, and the dancer must tense her legs to maintain stability.
This increased leg tension works against the muscles used for turn-out. Before your Pilates instructor can work on turn-out, he or she must identify and correct postural alignment issues. The footwork series on the Pilates reformer will be useful for correcting foot and ankle alignment, whereas other exercises will improve pelvic alignment and control.
Preparing for Your Session
A well-lubricated hip joint makes it easier to perform turn-out exercises, so practice these hip-openers at home.
The Hips Release
- Lie supine with your knees bent.
- Stabilize your left side by pressing your left hip into the floor.
- Release your right hip by allowing the right knee to turn out to the side.
- Slide your right heel along the floor.
- When the leg extends, rotate it to the parallel position, with the knee facing the ceiling.
- Slide the heel back to the starting position
- Perform six repetitions on each leg
The Knee Stir
- Remain in a supine position with your knees bent
- Use your left hand to stabilize your left hip
- Pick up your right leg, and hold it with your right hand.
- Make five clockwise and five counterclockwise leg circles.
- Repeat on the other leg
If you practice these exercises on a daily basis, our Clinical Pilates specialists will be able to help you develop your turn-out prevent injuries and enhance your dance skills.
Call Happy Physio now on (08) 9272 7359 and book an appointment!