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5 Factors that Affect Turnout

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Irish dance strength and conditioning; turnout exercises for Irish dance, turnout exercises

“Feet out”, “turnout” and “toes out” are common phrases dancers hear from their teachers and adjudicators. But what can you do to help improve turnout? In this three part turnout series, you will learn the tools you need to maximize your turnout potential!

Part 1: 5 Factors that Affect Turnout

Part 2: Foot Alignment - Pronation, Supination, & Neutral

Part 3: 5 Exercises to Increase Hip Mobility & Strength to Improve Turnout

Part 1: 5 Factors that Affect Turnout

In order to understand how to improve your turnout, it’s imperative to first understand the basic anatomy of the hip joint. The below is a brief summary from the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science’s (IADMS) resource paper on “Turnout for Dancers: Hip Anatomy and Factors Affecting Turnout.” Understanding the below list will give you a better idea of the anatomy of the hip joint and the factors involved in improving turnout.

Irish dance strength and conditioning

1. Angle of the hip socket (acetabulum)

The hip socket generally faces to the side and slightly forward but individual differences in it’s positioning will allow or limit how far you can turnout from the hip.

2. Shape & length of femoral neck

The hip’s range of motion (ROM) will change based on the shape and length of the femoral neck. A shorter femoral neck will limit one’s ROM whereas a longer femoral neck will increase one’s ROM.

3. Femoral Anteversion vs. Retroversion

The angle of the femoral neck will affect how far one’s feet can turn out. Typically, the angle of the femoral neck, relative to the femoral shaft, is 15 degrees. Femoral anteversion is caused when there is increased anterior angulation, causing one’s feet to appear pigeon toed. When there is a decrease in anterior angulation, retroversion, one’s feet will appear more turned out.

Turnout exercises for Irish dance

4. Elasticity of ligaments surrounding the hip

The ligaments surrounding the hip stabilize the joint and have limited elastic properties. It is controversial whether one should try to increase the elasticity of a ligament as that would limit it’s stabilizing ability.

5. Flexibility and strengthening exercises

If the muscles surrounding one’s hips are tight and/or weak, they will restrict the hip’s ROM and decrease your ability to improve turnout. Increased hip mobility and optimal strength allow a dancer to reach a greater degree of turnout, maximizing their turnout potential.

READ MORE with Part 2 & 3 of our three part turnout series.


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