Improving Turnout for Irish Dance - Part 2: Foot Alignment
Updated: Feb 16
“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
In the second part of Improving Turnout for Irish Dance, we’ll review proper foot alignment in weight bearing and non-weight bearing situations. It’s important for dancers to not “force their feet” into turning out but allow their turnout to originate from the hip.
FOOT ALIGNMENT: Pronation, Supination & Neutral
Pronation - rolling in on the foot, placing most of the weight on the inside of the foot, and collapsing the arch. When the foot is “winged” it is pronated.
Neutral - foot and ankle in alignment.
Supination - rolling out on the foot, placing most of the weight on the outside of the foot and raising the arch up. When the foot is “sickled” it is supinated.
Many times, dancers will compensate for a limited range of motion in their hips by pronating and “forcing the feet” to give the perception of greater turnout. This tends to happen most when dancers are standing on their toes, trying to gain greater cross over and turn out.
The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science explains that when pronation occurs “abnormal alignment ensues, causing medial stress along the leg and knee, and is quite possibly linked to increased injury potential. The injury for the foot and ankle complex is the highest of all joint systems. Thus, this strategy of allowing the foot to pronate as a compensatory mechanism for turnout is discouraged by teachers and health care practitioners alike.”
Therefore, in order to reduce the risk of foot and ankle injury, it is imperative that dancers practice with their feet in neutral alignment.
FOOT ALIGNMENT: Sickling & Winging
Sickling - Dancers can be prone to sickling with weak ankles, as they have a greater range of motion inward compared to outward, or due to their genetics. Injuries may occur if the foot is sickled in any weight bearing movements and should be avoided.
Winging - Similar to sickling, winging your foot may become dangerous in any weight bearing situation. Although a dancer is prone to injury while bearing weight on a winged foot, some instructors may allow dancers to wing their foot slightly in non-weight bearing situations only (such as pointing).
Take Home Points
Feet should always be in neutral position in all weight bearing situations.
Some instructors may allow dancers to wing their foot slightly in non-weight bearing situations only.
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