Protecting Your Ankles and Knees in a Dance Turnout

Turnout is the position often used in dance where your hips are externally rotated, like first position in ballet.  Often dancers will use their feet to cheat this movement and create the desired shape on the floor. This cheat is called “cranking turnout.”

Using floor sliders

Dr. Blessyl Buan, an Ontario chiropractor, dance artist and movement specialist, recommends a healthier pattern is for a dancer to use their hips’ external rotators, including their large hip muscle and the deeper muscles. They can use these rotators to muscularly initiate the outward movement from their hip joint.

A dancer should generate about 65 per cent of their turnout from their hip joint, 25 per cent from their ankle joint and the remainder from their knee. It’s also important to note that turnout is largely affected by the dancer’s hip joint orientation, depth and natural flexibility.

Avoid an unhealthy turnout

Telltale signs that a dancer is performing an unhealthy turnout is if they flatten their arches, have the outer edge of their heel hit the ground first and over arch their back to create a front  pelvic tilt.

This posture causes strain in the dancer’s spine, pelvis, knee and foot. It also makes the dancer prone to injuries.

How to effectively use your hip mucles

Watch this video to learn how to practice dance exercises using sliders to help you effectively use your hip muscles to initiate turnout movements and protect your ankles and knees.  This process is particularly important for young dancers.


Keep dancing and reduce your risk of injuries

For a dancer, visiting a movement specialist, like a chiropractor, can help reduce their risk of injuries, along with the pain and discomfort they bring. To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional.

(Special thanks to Dr. Buan for sharing her expertise and video for this post.)