The “pretzel stretch” sounds like a twisty painful stretch, doesn’t it? Well of course, it isn’t! It is actually soothing to your lower back and gives a nice stretch across the front of the hip and thigh. This last bit helps your turnout to release if you feel muscle tension there.
- You begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees and slightly turned in.
- Drop both knees to one side and engage your abs. (I find that any time there is a twist or spiral movement in the spine, it is important to engage your tranverse abs).
- Cross the outside leg over the top of the back leg as shown in photo. Please make sure that your hips are pointing towards the same direction as the crossed knee. You can see there is one dancer whose hips are facing the ceiling. This is incorrect.
- If you knee is off the floor, you can modify the stretch by leaving the bent knee on the floor.
- Breathe and relax into the stretch while maintaining your alignment and let hip and thigh muscles release into a better turnout. You will feel your TFL (tensor fascia latae) release. Stretching a tight TFL can improve the range of your hips.
- Keep this stretch active by pressing the pelvis forward and abs engaged. You can do this by gently tucking and tilting the pelvis as it meant to be done with movement according to Lisa Howell of Perfect Form Physiotherapy. The additional benefit according the amazing Lisa Howell, “is that it builds pelvic control at the same time.”
- Change to the other side.
Why do this turnout stretch?
Dancers tend to overwork their muscles surrounding turnout. I believe it is because the rotators are small muscles and the larger muscles are eager to get involved! To achieve your personal best range of turnout, there must be some relaxation in order to activate the proper muscles. Always stretch after class to keep your muscles released. So often, dancers rush into their cars and sit. We are a sitting society which tightens our hips and backs. Be sure to schedule ten minutes after class to do some of your turnout stretches and large muscle releases.Get yourself into a 'Pretzel' and improve your turnout, dancers!Click To Tweet
See the first half of my video below to see this stretch in action with instructions. There is also an advanced version in the video. Please subscribe to my You Tube Channel if you love to see rather than read– or just to view as support to my posts!