Don’t worry, my current spurt of invert-related blog posts is not a sign of my lockdown insanity. Although I often wake up, bolt upright at 5am with a pole biomechanics epiphany, the truth is, those marbles went missing a long time before the pandemic came along!
I’m actually writing these invert posts in response to a Q&A over on my social media pages. As you can imagine, there were some common themes! I’m working my way through them as logically as I can.
Today we’re looking at one particular invert complaint that came up multiple times…
Why are my hands in the way when I try to hook into my outside leg hang?
Here are just a few examples of that very same question received from pole dancers around the world:
No matter what kind of invert I try, I cannot place my knee above my hand to hook it on the pole, usually it goes on top of my wrist or arm.
I can get into my invert V but can’t then lift my bum up to clamp my legs above my hands, therefore I need to hop up a couple of times which is very energy draining.
How can I get my butt up high enough so I don’t always end up with a hand stuck between my thighs?
Arg! The exasperation is palpable!
You’ve finally got over the hurdle of being able to actually get your leg to the pole, but then along comes this brand new problem: that little hitch up so you can re-grip your leg above your hand. Not only is it hella frustrating, but it’s also adding an unnecessary clunkiness to all your beautiful pole combos. Wah!
How to ditch the hitch and smooth out your invert to leg hang
Step 1: Check your invert foundations!
Before we go any further… there are many aspects that could be contributing to this ‘problem’. Your first port of call should be checking-in on your invert and chopper/straddle positioning.
Are you are setting up your invert with your hands too high on the pole? Maybe you are wrapping your hands too much around the pole, making the hand release more awkward than it needs to be? Perhaps you are not getting your hips high enough in the invert/chopper in the first place, or maybe you are hanging too much from straight arms, making the adjustment of your straddle position more awkward than it should be?
These are all individual nuances and if you are not sure, get your pole instructor to review your positioning with you. Sometimes, even the tiniest adjustment or new cue from your instructor can make all the difference.
Read over my last posts on Invert anatomy and how to get your booty up and hold the straddle – is there an element of your invert to straddle that you could work on to improve your foundation and create a better set up for your leg hang?
Step 2: The extra hip lift
Invert and straddle foundations super solid? Then you may just need to work on a little ‘extra’ step between your invert/straddle and your leg hang.
As you can see from the video below, if I try to get my leg to the pole straight from my straddle position, without adjusting my hip positioning, my leg will hit the pole right where my hands are. It’s a hard ‘nope’ for that smooth transition.
In order to get that knee above my hands, I need to first lift my hips up AND take my straight leg higher BEFORE I start to bend it. Think of this movement in the same way that you might move between a piked shoulder stand into a straight shoulder stand…
The cues are to squeeze your butt, push your hips forwards and feet backwards. In the straddle to leg hang, this movement happens quickly and it’s only small – but it’s there!
Step 3: What is your inside leg doing?
There is something else that happens as we make the switch from straddle to leg hang.
In the video below, you’ll see that at the same time as I lift the hips up and bring that outside leg higher, my inside leg continues going back into extension.
This inside leg extension is an important part of the movement because it helps us to get our hips higher and counterbalance the position. It also helps us to extend our back and secure a little extra grip from the contact point of our torso on the pole in the final position. Without this extra grip, taking the hands off feels a lot scarier than it needs to!
So check what your inside leg is doing – if you are keeping that leg flexed and not extending it backwards until you’ve hooked your outside leg on the pole, you could be making life harder for yourself
Step 4: Timing the hand release!
All of these things happen quite quickly and if you look real close in the video below, you’ll see that my leg doesn’t actually go all the way clear of my hands before I start to wrap my leg around the pole.
It happens almost simultaneously that my leg meets the pole, I get that extra grip of the torso (from step 3) and I release my hands as that outside knee is still flexing around the pole. This ‘sweet spot’ of the timing is a question of confidence and body awareness that really does improve with time and practise!
Getting the extra hip lift and timing the inside leg extension
Here’s an exercise you can add to your pole conditioning that will help you to understand the feeling of the hip extension that happens just before the leg hang as well as the timing of dropping the inside leg back as you hook the outside leg on.
No pole? If you’re confident with shoulder stands, you can instead practise moving between a chopper position and a straight line shoulder stand. This will help you to understand this subtle lift of the hips from a piked position that will allow you to get your knee above your hands in your leg hang.
If didn’t answer your invert question yet – stay tuned! More invert geeking is coming!
Want to nail your invert with specific ‘on’ and ‘off the pole’ strength and conditioning progressions that target these key areas? Of course you do! ? Check out my online No Kick Invert training programme provided through the Pole PT app – with all the support and accountability you need to succeed!
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