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In my last post, we talked about planes of motion in pole dance. I used the twisted ballerina as an example to demonstrate how we move our bodies through all 3 planes of motion when we pole. If you missed it, go check it out here!

Today, I wanna zone-in on the biomechanics of this flexibility-heavy pole trick and breakdown the most important elements of the twisted ballerina.

I also want to use this opportunity to give you an example of how knowledge really is power! Understanding pole biomechanics will help you discover your own unique strengths and weaknesses so you can become a better pole dancer! HECK YEAH! 🤓

Anatomy of the twisted ballerina

Here’s the full shopping list of mobility and strength ‘must-haves’ you’ll need to achieve this move:

  • Mobility and strength in hip extension to lift the top leg behind you.
  • Mobility and strength in shoulder extension to reach your top arm behind you.
  • Mobility and strength in thoracic rotation and side bending to wrap your torso around the pole.
  • Mobility and strength in external hip rotation for that bottom leg. NOTE: If you have your bottom leg wrapped around the pole, you’ll need even more external rotation than if you keep it straight!
  • Finally, flexibility in Hip abduction will help reduce the amount of thoracic rotation required – changing the mechanics of this move and making it easier to achieve!

Yup! As always in pole, we don’t like to do things by halves! That’s a whole lotta goings on for one single pose! Let’s take a closer look…

Rather watch than read?

Because I’m now OBSESSED with making 3d anatomy animations for pole moves, you can check out the video below for the full breakdown.

1. Hip extension – the reason every day should be booty day!

In our twisted ballerina, our top leg is lifted behind us. We’re stretching our hip flexors at the front of the leg/hip, so we’ll need good flexibility here. But it’s the strength of the opposing muscles (specifically our glute max) that will allow us to lift that leg actively in the air.

Long story short: if you want to smoothly glide your way into your twisted ballerina without your pole mom sprinting towards you mid-routine to pass your foot to your hand, you’ll need strength in your glutes to lift the leg nice and high behind you!

2. Shoulder extension in the twisted ballerina

Pole anatomy

You can see that in my twisted ballerina I have my arm behind me, so strength and mobility in shoulder extension is important here.

BUT it’s important to remember that our bodies really are all unique. When it comes to flexibility-heavy tricks like the twisted ballerina, mobility in one area can reduce the need for mobility in another. It’s the reason one dancer’s twisted ballerina may look very different to yours or mine – and you might not need the same level of shoulder extension as me! I’ll talk about this below.

3. Thoracic rotation – putting the ‘twisty’ in the ballerina!

Because our inside leg is locked in place by the pole and we then need to wrap our opposite arm around the pole like a pretzel on a stick, we need a high level of thoracic rotation for this move. It’s what puts the ‘twisty’ in the twisted ballerina.

Thoracic rotation in pole dance

BUT – remember what I said about us all being unique? Well, the amount of thoracic rotation you need here will actually depend a lot on your hip mobility…

4. Hip external rotation and abduction for the twisted ballerina

Our bottom leg is externally rotated in the ballerina. If you keep the leg straight like me, it will require LESS external rotation than if you keep it bent and wrapped around the pole.

The leg is also abducted out to the side. The more flexible and strong you are in this hip abduction (think pancake stretches, spreadies and middle splits), the more easily you’ll be able to navigate the mechanics of the twisted ballerina, because not only will it give you more space to move in and out of the position, but it will also allow you to open your hips more – allowing you to rotate your hips and lower back towards the pole, reducing the amount of thoracic rotation and shoulder extension required.

Strength and conditioning for pole

Interesting, huh? Well I think so! 🤓

I’d love to see your twisted ballerina and know how this move feels for you! Do you know which aspects of the position suit your own mobility strengths and where your sticking points are? Tag me so I can see! 😍 I’m @ptthepole on Instagram and The Pole PT on Facebook.

If you wanna geek out more on pole anatomy and troubleshoot tricks, check out my new book, Pole Anatomy. It explains the biomechanics of over 60 different pole tricks and comes with access to a library or interactive 3D models so you can see every move from all angles! If you love to pole-nerd, you’ll LOVE it!!

Content on this website is provided for educational/informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should consult your Doctor or Health Care Professional before doing any exercises or fitness programs to determine if they are right for your needs.


Strength and conditioning book pole dance

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