Get The TUCK Out!

 
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Get the TUCK Out!

 

A word heard a lot in the barre community is “tuck.” It has become almost synonymous with barre and has been subject to cute catch phrases (see title of this article). But, how often are we stopping to really think about what that word means, and should we even be saying it?

First off, let’s define what in the world is a tuck and how to find it in your body! Anatomically it is a posterior tilt of the pelvis. It is a position where the frontal hips bones (ASIS) are moving back (posteriorly) and the pubic bone is forward (anterior) of the hips bones. If you wanna nerd out on anatomy (me, me!!), I highly recommend the book Anatomy of Movement by Blandine Calais-Germain. This book is basic, simple, and easy to understand. It will also give you more anatomical words to chew on!

In order to find your tuck position, let’s do a little dance! We all have different bodies so the angle of your tuck will look different for everyone. To find your posterior pelvic tilt, stand in parallel with your hands on your hips bones with your knees slightly bent. Start by sticking your barre booty out to the back in an anterior pelvic tilt, and then come back to the starting point (this is neutral!). Then, do the opposite by pushing your pelvis forward in a posterior pelvic tilt and voilà! This is your tuck position! Repeat and you’re ready for the dance floor!

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So, where did tucking come from in the barre world, and why is there so much of it in some methods? The answer to those questions starts with who began it all.

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Barre got it’s start by professional dancer and barre goddess, Lotte Berk. Her method is described on her official website, lotteberkmethod.net, as "a sensual and satisfying fitness system that firm, lengthen, and shape muscles to their most optimal form.” Part of that sensuality had a lot to do with pelvic movement. Pelvic thrusting was apart of her mission for female empowerment in fitness. Dancers, and especially modern and jazz dancers at the time were doing a lot of pelvic movement/pelvic thrusting, and shocking classic audiences around the world. Before this time dance in general was about creating long lines with the body in a more classical way, not jutting out the hips and breaking the mold. Lotte Berk’s use of the pelvis was very much a sign of her times, as well as a forward thinking statement for the body.

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While it’s a good thing to be able to move your pelvis in all directions, posterior tilting or tucking should not be one that is sustained while compressing the lower back, when the legs are in extension, or while over working the glut muscles and hip flexors. For example, sitting underneath the ballet barre, pressing upwards with the arms in a tucked position puts too much load on the lower back and can cause too much compression resulting in injury. Extending a leg behind the body while tucking will shorten the range which the leg should be able to extend and will put pressure not he lower back as well.

Lastly, tucking while doing a standing plié will also pull the lower back into a compromised position. It is a movement meant to be moved through, like in a sit up or roll down. This is where the problem lies in modern day barre classes. Sustaining a tuck and then squeezing/pulsing puts a lot of compression on the lower back (lumbar spine) and can cause strain and injury. What makes the word so confusing is when it is used for certain individuals to bring their pelvis back to a neutral position. Think back to our little dance. A common error in posture for certain barre exercises is having an anterior pelvic tilt (where your barre booty sticks out), and to correct that position some people say “tuck under” to bring the pelvis neutral. Using the word as a corrective cue, and as an actual position to sustain makes things very confusing.

Knowing where and why the tuck came about is important in understanding why it causes so much controversy, and potential injury. I personally try to avoid using that word, unless I am tagging on a corrective cue. I believe in the importance of having these types of conversations in order to build a better barre community.

Now, keep those sexy hips moving and GET THE TUCK OUT!