I’ve been working on my splits a bit more lately. It’s only been three weeks, and I didn’t do as much training as I could have, so I shouldn’t really be frustrated about lack of progress. Still, my middle splits are annoyingly bad. I can’t even blame it on deficient bone structure, since I used to be able to do the middle splits as a kid and later as a teen. I do remember it taking forever, though, so I guess I shouldn’t despair just yet.
While I was stretching on Friday, I read kit’s post wherein she describes frustration with her lack of turnout – a lament that is familiar to all adult ballet dancers. I’m no exception. I remember having the perfect turnout as a child, but I’m very far away from it now. The middle splits and the related frog stretch are supposed to be good for your turnout. No wonder I suck at both of those.
I was going to write a flaming call-to-action post about getting my turnout back and then some. But while I was reading up on the turnout (this post and this one were most informative), I began to have doubts. I remember little enough of the classes, except that I did use my 180° fifth and first positions to impress my non-dancing peers as a kid. There were zero professional aspirations involved in my dance classes and ballet was only a small part of what we did. It is therefore entirely possible, even probable, that I was forcing my turnout through my hypermobile knees and ankles.
Having realised that, I tried it out, and what do you know: using terrible technique and putting unhealthy strain on my knees, I can still put my feet into a 180° first. I just don’t, because I’m, like, smart now. (And also acutely aware that wrecking my knees is not a sensible course of action.) While you can stand at the barre in a forced turnout, you can’t really dance with it. And anyway, all credible sources seem to agree that technique is way more important than turnout.
Interestingly enough, I have a very high degree of inward rotation in my hip. According to those articles I linked above, this is both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, inward rotation seems to be good for injury prevention. On the other, having too much of it can indicate a hip structure that is not at all conducive to turnout. But I’m not knock-kneed and I place my feet perfectly parallel when walking, so I guess it’s just plain old hypermobility.
I’ve now spent several hours reading, thinking and writing about the issue of hip mobility, only to come to the conclusion that it’s fine the way it is and there’s not much I can do to influence it either way. Not my finest «Eureka!» moment!