Nathan Sayers for Dance Magazine

Ask Amy: The Truth About Forcing Your Turnout

Lately I've been having problems with my ankles. After class, they hurt around the bones. I don't know what would be causing this, besides the fact that I force my turnout a bit. But wouldn't that affect my knees? —Katie


Forcing your turnout can affect numerous parts of the body, not just your knees. When you wrench your knees, ankles and feet into a position that's beyond their natural limits, you put extra pressure on your bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles in order to hold them there. This affects your entire alignment, causing you to grip and compensate.

Dr. John Brummer, a podiatric surgeon who consults with the School at Steps in New York City, says that forcing your turnout can irritate and inflame the ligaments around the ankle joint. "When you push your ankle bones against those ligaments, you put undue pressure on them, causing a strain injury," he says. Icing your ankles after class, as well as taking anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, can ease your symptoms. You should also make an appointment with a podiatrist or orthopedist to get an official diagnosis and, if necessary, a prescription for physical therapy.

Forcing your turnout

might feel like no big deal,

but it affects your entire alignment.

If you continue to torque your feet, you could weaken the ligaments further, making you more susceptible to ankle sprains, says Brummer. Ask your teacher for help correcting and monitoring your alignment. Before combinations, be very careful not to take a "bottom-up" approach by planting your feet into 180 degrees (and then wriggling the rest of your body into place). Instead, try to work with your natural turnout, using your hip muscles to safely hold it.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


Gavin Smart, Courtesy ROH

Calling All Ballet Lovers! World Ballet Day 2020 Is on October 29

While very little about this year has felt normal, we're excited to share that one of the dance community's landmark events is returning despite the pandemic. October 29 marks World Ballet Day 2020.

This year's iteration of the annual social media extravaganza features three of the world's leading companies: The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Additional participating companies, which include American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and Boston Ballet, have just been announced. Last year's World Ballet Day was the biggest yet, reaching over 315 million social media users around the world.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Serghei Gherciu, Courtesy Bayerisches Staatsballett

Osiel Gouneo on His Cuban Roots, His Favorite Roles and His Grandfather's Powerful Life Lesson

In Pointe's Fall 2020 issue, Bayerisches Staatsballett principal Osiel Guneo talked to us about his career, life as a new dad and what he misses most about his home country of Cuba.


Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Are You Rethinking a Dance Career Due to COVID-19? Read This Advice First

Olivia Duran started ballet when she was 3 years old, and it was love at first plié. From there, "I just kept going," she recently recalled over the phone, "and that was that!" Soon, she found herself at Elmhurst Ballet School, the prestigious training program affiliated with England's Birmingham Royal Ballet. She completed the school's full eight years of coursework, but as she neared the professional world, Duran felt more drawn to life as a cruise performer than as a traditional ballerina. Her final year was marked by audition circuits in London, which eventually landed her a contract with MSC Cruises.

After graduation in 2019, Duran returned home to Hampshire, UK, for a few short months to wait for the contract to begin—but with the onset of COVID-19, cruise ships stopped sailing and the job never came to fruition. Her stay at home became far more indefinite, and she was left to consider a life without dance at its center.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks