Scottish Highland Dance (1st Position) Anatomy

Scottish Highland Dance symbolises a celebration done for Scottish History. This dance is a mixture of flexibility, agility, strength, movement and beautiful costume. Unlike other dance styles, this particular type is danced solo and in competition.

Highland Dancing is a great workout for people of all age groups as it develops coordination, good posture as well as strength and stamina. It particularly targets certain muscles and makes them active.

In the First Position of Highland Dance, the feet are splayed at 90° from each other and the heels are joined together. 

It requires a lot of flexibility to execute the First Position as it requires to externally rotate both legs as far as possible till the angle between the feet is 90°. The muscles acting and lengthening will be discussed in this article so you can properly progress from a smooth Highland Dance.

Muscles Lengthening

Gluteus Medius (Anterior and Middle fibers):

Scottish Highland Dance

The anterior and middle fibers of Gluteus Medius medially rotates the leg. But the main goal in first position of Highland Dance is to laterally rotate the leg hence these fibers will be lengthening.

Gluteus Minimus:

Scottish Highland Dance

Gluteus Minimus is also a medial rotator of leg. It will also get shortened during the execution of this dance move.

Tensor Fascia Lata:

Scottish Highland Dance

It’s one of the function is to internally rotate the leg along with extension and abduction of the leg. Hence, it will be stretch.

Adductor Magnus:

Scottish Highland Dance

Another medial rotator of the thigh along with its function of being an adductor.

Adductor Longus:

Scottish Highland Dance

Medially rotates the leg just as it brother and is getting lengthened here.

Adductor Brevis:

Scottish Highland Dance

Adductor Brevis also rotates the leg internally.


Scottish Highland Dance

It is an adductor and medial rotator of the femur. Just like all other medial rotators, it also will be stretched.


Adductor Gracillis

This strap like muscle also performs the function of medial rotation thus, is getting stretched.


Muscles Lengthening

It is one of the Medial Hamstring muscles. Surprisingly, it also acts as a internal rotator. That is why, it is in the list of muscles that are being lengthened during the lateral rotation.


Muscles lengthening  Dance

Semimembranosus is the other partner of Semitendinosus. It also medially rotates the leg.

Muscles Shortening

Gluteus Maximus:

Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus Maximus is a major external rotator of the leg. It will greatly assist while executing the first position of Highland Dance.

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Deep Six Lateral Rotators:

These include Obturator Internus, Obturator Externus, Piriformis, Gemellus Inferior and Superior and Quadratus Femoris. They all will contract to achieve that lateral rotation we need.


This flexor of leg and knee also performs external rotation of the leg and that is why it will be assisting a little during the first position.

Rectus Femoris:

Just as Sartorius, Rectus Femoris will also assist a little during the lateral rotation of the leg. Typically, it is a flexor of the hip and extensor of the knee.

Biceps Femoris:

Biceps Femoris can also rotate the leg externally. This is why it will be getting contracted here.

Gluteus Medius (Posterior Fibers):

The posterior fibers of Gluteus Medius, unlike the anterior and middle fibers, will be quite of a big help in lateral rotation of the leg and will be contracting here.

Muscles causing Postural Tension

Quadriceps Vasti :

The Vastii muscles are prime extensors of the knee. They will prevent the knee from bending and maintain postural tension.

Spinal Extensors Scottish Highland Dance:

Spinal Extensors will keep the spine straight that is a requirement for the first position of Highland Dance.

Transversus Abdominis Scottish Highland Dance:

Transversus Abdominis will maintain abdominal tension during the dance.

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