Turnout strength and stretch are key to a developing ballet dancer! Join me for a glimpse into my intermediate ballet class. I introduced these dancers to some turnout strength and strength exercises. If you missed my first post on Turnout Strength Stretch– find it by clicking here.
We know that rotation primarily happens from the hips and is activated by six rotators in the glutes. The main rotator is your piriformis. My first acquaintance with that muscle was the soreness that I felt after taking my first month of ballet classes! I did not know why or how this strange tightness had occurred~
Why stretch your rotators?
Much later as a ballet teacher, I came across the term “ballerina butt” as some sort of affliction unique to a ballet dancer. I thought this term was hysterical but also apt 🙂 In this video, you can follow along with the dancers as they go through various strengthening exercises and a stretch for the piriformis at 3:30 minutes.
The “why?” is important to maintain the flexibility that you have worked so hard to attain in your hips. If this muscle becomes overworked an tight, it will not work correctly. Think about a rope. Say it is a yard long. Tie three knots in it. How long is it now? Obviously, it is shorter.
This is how our muscles can become if we do not maintain them. If your hips are restricted, so is your access to your rotation and you will become prone to injury as other less appropriate joints or muscles are called upon.
A more severe problem can occur:
In 17% of people, the piriformis muscle is pierced by parts or all of the sciatic nerve.
This will mimic sciatic nerve pain which is a terrible affliction. It hurts to sit, stretch, plié, cambré front and more. You will feel pain down your hamstring and the back of your knee. Piriformis syndrome causes pain in the buttock which may radiate down the leg. It is due to the sciatic nerve being impinged by a tight piriformis muscle deep in the buttocks.”
Also shown is a unique exercise for strengthening your hips to support a higher à la seconde. I know you won’t want to miss it! In case you want to skip ahead to just that, it is at:
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