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Where to begin - and how to continue


MaRo

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10 hours ago, MaRo said:

Yesterday, I spent the whole evening  reading the forum and watching videos about turnout. Why haven't I ever heard this term?

Turnout is external rotation, which in my second reply to you I mentioned was my guess about what you meant by "knees falling inward" :) The classic internal/external rotation stretch is the 90/90 stretch, also known as the "seated figure 4" (L7) in Master the Squat. Of course, this is only one of several possibilities, and you will find many from ballet sources, as you have seen.

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I don't know if you have a partner who can help you, and I will be making a program on this shortly, and probably putting it up on YouTube.

Turnout can be improved very quickly if you have a partner. Basically, turn one leg out as far as possible (technically, this is external rotation), and ask your partner to grasp the thigh relatively high up towards the hip joint and hold as much of the muscle structures as possible with both hands. You then try to turn the leg against the force (so internal rotation), exactly the same as doing a contract–relax stretch. Once you have done the contraction against your partner's resistance, try to turn the leg out further yourself, and then ask your partner to physically turn the leg past that point. Once you get the technique down, it's incredibly effective. You need to be able to turn the legs out far enough so that the knee and the foot is pointing directly towards the ceiling (assuming SS or pancake position) or even slightly behind you. Once you do that on both legs, try to see how far you can get the legs apart. Even if legs-apart flexibility is not your goal, and holding the new position while you do pancake is, this technique will help you.

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Thank you both very much for this input. It's really supportiv, you know, you provide a lot of motivation for me.

@Nathan I do sometimes the "seated figure 4 stretch" and it is also part of Livs class about pancake. What I discovered yesterday (thanks to her explanations) is that I have to take more care about the position of the hip to get more turnout in this stretch. I did not like the stretch much so far as I felt that be turning out one leg pulls the other inward - exactly what I liket to avoid. But maybe it is up to me to avoid this by positioning my hips better. I will certainly play around with this stretch.

 

@Kit_LThis sounds exciting and doable. Yes, I have some family here who can help (they are not alsways very motivated to stand on my thighs in tailor or so, but they do it 😉 )
It is a bit difficult to imagine how to position ourselves - me sitting legs apart and the partner kneeling behind the thigh? A video would be great for sure.
Legs wider apart is certainly a goal for my, I just wanted to mention that the goal is not necessarily the full splits. A bit a wider straddle would be incredibly helpful for thinks like cartwheels and roundoff..

@Nathan

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43 minutes ago, MaRo said:

It is a bit difficult to imagine how to position ourselves - me sitting legs apart and the partner kneeling behind the thigh? A video would be great for sure.

Not sure how Kit will be doing this in the recording, but I would probably suggest the partner kneels on the floor facing you with the working leg (the one they will be holding) between their knees and then grips the upper thigh firmly from directly above. Perhaps imagine trying to choke/strangle the thigh :lol: but with the hands more toward the top/center. Behind the thigh would work too, but being directly over should allow for firmer, steadier pressure. Hope that makes sense!

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In response to Kit's posting of Thursday 8.16 am of the picture of the side split. The knees are pointing up at 45 degrees (and I suspect the pelvis is rotated slightly down at the front; difficult to see), so the rotation at the hip joint may be a bit more than 45 degrees. I would call that turned out. This is how I do it (though I dont get my legs to quite a straight line) and I am definitely turned out. As far as I can tell from the anatomy, a rotation of just a bit more than 45 degrees allows the greater trochanter to move behind the pelvis. Do you agree?

Jim.

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Jim—it all depends on the structure of your hip joints. Have a look at these three images from S&F:

In the first, my knees and feet are pointing straight up; that is fully turned out. If I were standing with straight legs and heels together, my feet are very close to a straight line. This is ballet's second position. For my hips, full external rotation, or turnout, is necessary: my legs will not go apart unless they are.

Olivia's knees and feet are closer to 45°; she is much looser than me, and she can have her feet pointing to the ceiling, or forwards.

Jennifer's knees point straight forwards; her femurs are internally rotated. Her spine is neutral (mine is hyperextended, and Olivia's in between).

So SS and the pancake can be done with internal, neutral, or external rotation—it depends on the structure of the joint, and the angles between the greater trochanter and the knee joint as to how much the position is achieved by this positioning, with or without the contribution of hyperextension.

These images are from Stretching & Flexibility, p. 245.

Screen Shot 2021-01-31 at 06.46.22.jpg

Screen Shot 2021-01-31 at 06.46.31.jpg

Screen Shot 2021-01-31 at 06.46.39.jpg

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Thanks for all the input!

I think I overdid it a bit yesterdy and today by trying it all out... I feel sore and tired (my fault..). And I looked at so many straddle position pictures today...

I got the feeling that my conditions for turnout are not totally bad, but it is a question of the steering of the muscles (I am not sure of the english terminology). I am not sure how much my hips open up though. I have to wait until the soreness gets away...

Some skitouring tomorrow... and just a little limbering...

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Today,unfelt muscles on the outside/upside of the thigh make themselves felt... which is good! Today I try to observe my movment patterns in everyday activities. E g I walk up a stair. Each step, I see that my knee falls (is inside of the line to the toes). I have to activate the mentioned muscles to prevent this.

Wheather or not this help me for my pancake/straddle, I think it is a very good thing to work more with these muscles and hence change some movement patterns.

All very interesting! Thanks again!

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Kit - thanks for your reply. I am asking re comment saying Olivia's thighs are  internally rotated. To me, because the pelvis is tilted forward at 90 deg (approx) compared to yours, I would say that her femurs bear the same relation to her pelvis as in you - in both cases, the knees are pointing in the same direction as the spine (towards the head, i.e. to the ceiling in your case, the wall ahead in Olivia's), which means she (as you) has 90 deg of turnout (in relation to the pelvis). But this is a simple point which must be clear to you too - I think there must be a descriptive difference here. In other words, she is in the same basic position as you, but lying forwards. Sorry if this is hijacking MaRo's thread.
 

In relation to MaRo's latest comment, because the knees are one of the very vulnerable joints of the body, it is important that they move correctly - i.e. that they track accurately forward and back, in walking, climbing, etc. I suggest attention is put into ensuring that this happens.

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@Jim Picklesno problem discussing here- I like it as It is all very helpful for me.

Yes, I agree with you concerning the knee movememnt. So far, I just thought that my knees "are like this". I was not aware that I can influence the movement that much with the muscles outside of my thighs. Shame on me... I just never gave it a thought!

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11 hours ago, Jim Pickles said:

I am asking re comment saying Olivia's thighs are  internally rotated.

@Jim Pickles: can you copy that back to me; I could not find this. I know Olivia's flexibility well, and she does not have the same degree of turnout as I do, but in the image above her femurs are externally rotated, not internally. Did you mean Jennifer?

@MaRo: there is a long thread on ankle pronation here, too, in addition to @Nathan's suggestion. The first page has the critical info.

https://kitlaughlin.com/forums/index.php?/topic/33-flat-feet-pronation-in-response-to-a-q-from-coach-sommer/&tab=comments#comment-76

 

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@Kit_L Oops! Sorry - I meant Jennifer!

Added later:

@Kit_L - so its clear you are referencing turnout in relation to orientation in space, and I am doing it in relation to the orientation of the hips. The latter seems to me more appropriate if one is considering it in relation to the geometry of the hip joint.

Edited by Jim Pickles
Addition of thoughts
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@Nathan Thanks for this. Strangely, in the Poliquin/Peterson Step up (if I did it correctly ), my knee does not fall in. Maybe it is because I don't have to lift my body up onto the next step

@Kit_L Thanks for this input, too. I don't have pronated feet, as far as I know. The soles of my shoes are usualle more used on the outside. But still, in the last years I developed some (not much) problems with the base joints of the big toes which might be a hint that there is too much pressure on them. I have to dive  deeper into this subject.

 

So much input - this is really a competent and very supportive community here, thanks so much.
 

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On 1/30/2021 at 1:51 AM, Nathan said:

Turnout is external rotation, which in my second reply to you I mentioned was my guess about what you meant by "knees falling inward" :) The classic internal/external rotation stretch is the 90/90 stretch, also known as the "seated figure 4" (L7) in Master the Squat. Of course, this is only one of several possibilities, and you will find many from ballet sources, as you have seen.

After a couple of days playing around with turnout, I tried the seated figure 4 again. Ah- that's something different! I really feels like another movement. One strange feeling I get is that especially in the leg that I "let fall in", I can adress the "turnout muscles" (outside hamstring). If I activate them, it resonates in my hips - I can put them more square. Work to do! Thank you so much!

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What a stunning improvement in that short time. A point I have made many times but certainly worth making again here is that change is happening inside the body which you simply can't see or feel but when you try something like this again a month later you can both see and feel the change. This is why I always say have no regard for the outcome and just do the work with a light heart.

Another point is that in your case turnout was something that was new to you and this apparently small addition seems to have led to quite a bit of improvement. I've said this many times before too but it's definitely worth repeating – the value in a system is its thoroughness and the possibility of the identification of an aspect of your training that you were simply not aware of. Thanks so much for posting!

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Thanks for these words, very valuable words.
I can say that I do love the stretching with stretchtherapy. Sometimes, i prefer a follow-along (from youtube), sometimes I prefer doing some of the exercices at my own pace. However I do it, time always flies by. Even when I did not feel a big difference in the forward leaning angle, the whole aspect of doing the exercices made me feel good, did a lot of good to my hips.

Yes, the turnout is a very small aspect I never considered and is apparently key for me (thanks again). Altough I could lean forward more or less to the same degree before I started working with turnout (I took a picture a couple of days ago), now it feels completely different. I can kind of relax the legs - hard to describe, it is a tense-relaxation. By turning out the knees, so tensing the outside of the tigh, I can relax some muscles in the hips, some parts of the adductors I guess. It feels like more space in the hips (which is what I am looking for).

Certainly such an important input provides great results in a short time... it will go slower. But more important than the leaning aspect is that my hips feel so much more "workable"

(its the same in backbends - I started working with backbends because my spine became slowly inflexible. Becoming able doing a bridge is just a nice sideeffect)

 

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It's not that I didn't do anything, I just got a bit sore at the adductors from all the trying out and working... I keept it easy for the last days, did some limbering for hips and shoulder work. And some exercices for the turnout.

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I really like Skandasana-like movements. I am pretty far away from "sitting in Skandasana" (or however it is called in Yoga), but moving the way I am inspired from the pankcake videos is great and interesting for me. I spend quite a bit of time standing in straddle and just moving from left to rigt. Very slowly, I can get lower, not the same every day. It is interesting to move around the hips and try out how this changes the use of muscles the adductor area. Playing around with different upper body positions can add to this as well as placing the upper arm inside the thigh and add some pressure. The turnout plays a role here as well.

Today I tried the partner exercise in pancake where the partner lies back to back on my back. My daughter. who is 16 and just 10kilos lighter than me, was my partner and surprisingly, she didn't feel heavy at all (yes, it is mentioned in the video...). The feeling was really good.

I do the frog exercise, no difference there so far.
I work on turnout and cannot really say if there is a difference. But when I look at my legs, I can turn them in a "better" position (my legs in straddle or lunge etc. often look really "wrong" - I mean: unhealty, locked, distorted). There are positions like a deep lunge where I can't turn them out so far.

Shoulder work is going along pretty nice. I still prefer doing mostly long static stretches there because it works. I added some weight, though. I do the bridge several times a week (I never expected that I can write this sentence down!) with focus on shoulder opening. Maye still room for improvement there. Knees are still totally bent.

It is nice to write this log to keep track of the stretching activities.

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Usually, I start my stretching session with a "tiny movement" stretch: I stand, feet a bit more than hip wide apart and then I do really tiny movements with my hips in all directions. Just doing this feels really good and is no effort. I can certainly to this everyday wherever I am. From there, I usually go towards chinese grinder / Skandasana-like movements / wide elefant etc.

I still have a "wandering soreness" in my right adductor area. I never put a lot of tension on it, but maybe I should leave it completely for a couple of days?

In the follow along videos, Liv usually says to start with the worse side. Sometimes, I prefer starting on the better side, not really knowing why.

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7 hours ago, MaRo said:

I still have a "wandering soreness" in my right adductor area. I never put a lot of tension on it, but maybe I should leave it completely for a couple of days?

Complete rest is rarely the best choice, IMO. You might avoid stretching it, but at the very least I would try to get plenty of movement/blood flow into the area. This could be as simple as some long daily walks. Rolling/massage could help too. Also, not worrying about it too much if it's just minor soreness. The mind can make it much more serious than it really is, if you allow it to :)

Whatever you do, be mindful about it and avoid pain, and you'll probably be fine.

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14 hours ago, MaRo said:

In the follow along videos, Liv usually says to start with the worse side. Sometimes, I prefer starting on the better side, not really knowing why.

Go with your instincts, here. The suggestion to start with a 'lesser' side is simply so that when you experience the better side and then you go back and do the problem side a second time, you almost always experience an improvement. This assumes you know which your problem side is, of course. If you prefer to start with the non-problem side, then do that and in some other way contrive to get more work into the problem area. Having said that, if working on the problem side itself is a problem – then just do a light set on that side – what @Nathan said is 100% true. Time heals everything if you are using the right movements for the area.

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Thanks you both so much for your advice!

With "rest" I meant not to stretch the area. I am happy that you support this, @Nathan to do something - this is how I feel. I do a walk for about one hour every day and I go for a little rund for about 45min every other day anyway. No problem with the sore area there, I just have to take care to stretch the hamstrings afterwards, they get tight after running.

I did tailor today (biggest problem is that I tend to slip forward away from the wall I am leaning against). Then, I did Livs long hip flexor session from youtube. That was quite a difference to last time I did it, wow! I used to need a long strap for the back foot, now a very short strap was enough. And for the first time in my life I felt that I sink a bit deeper in the deep lunge. It really feels as if there is more space in my hips. After this session, I did kind of a split stretch (for which - if I ever do it - I use a high staple of pillows) and for the first time I sank into the props. Nice! At the moment, I can not hold the knees turned "out" (up-/downward) in this position, so the hips are not square, but i just let myself sink down as long as I feel a beneficial stretch.

Then, I did the small hip movements and some limbering for the hips sideways. I feel the "wandering soreness" in this and I get the feeling, that is good to move but no to put any tension on it. It is not a problem @Kit_L, I just have to keep the work light and remain patient.

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