Let’s talk about the tuck! Recently we’ve started to see chatter around the term “tucking” and confusion about what the cue means. Each barre technique is using their own vocabulary – from neutral spine, to heavy tailbone, to tuck your pelvis under, to hollow out your core, or even drop your tailbone to the floor. So who’s right, what’s right, and what feels right to you?! The difference in semantics can be quite confusing at times!
While we’re not at liberty to speak for all barre techniques, we wanted to take this opportunity to explain and clarify the definition of the Pure Barre tuck – both as a foundational position and as a movement.
The first use of a tuck in Pure Barre is as a foundational position. The intent of the tuck as a postural position is to remove the over-arching of our lower backs, by rolling the hips back, engaging the core, stacking the shoulders above the hips and finding neutral body alignment. Think about a forearm plank position. In this position the lumbar spine can excessively arch. When you do a slight tuck of your hips during forearm plank it helps place your low spine in a more neutral and less stressful position. When you hear the cue “tuck the hips under” during class, it should remind you to find and work from a neutral spine position.
Dr. Meri Rosco points out that, “It is important to engage your core during exercise as it brings your spine to a neutral position reducing the weight on the spinal discs as well as reducing nerve impingement in the spine. Pure Barre calls this movement “tucking,” which involves squeezing your glutes and bracing your abdominal muscles. Tucking strengthens the muscles that protect us from spinal injuries and reduces further damage to current spinal injuries.”
The second use of the term tuck in Pure Barre is as a repeated small range of motion cued on beat to music while holding ballet and Pilates inspired positions. In this use we move the hips from neutral position slightly forward and quickly back to neutral position. These short bursts of motion create an anaerobic exercise that helps strengthen muscles, increase joint mobility, and create a stronger connection with the core muscles.
Physical therapists agree that tucking helps build your core strength. “The simple act of tucking your hips, if done with intention, helps to engage your abdominal muscles. Additionally, when you tuck your hips, creating a neutral spine, you can work on activating the deeper abdominal muscles which are found to help support and stabilize your low spine,” says Dr. Hilary Norman, PT, DPT.
The photo below helps illustrate a proper Pure Barre tuck position:
The beauty of Pure Barre really lies in the balance of the class. We aim to strengthen and define each muscle group while also allowing your spine to achieve various ranges of motion. As with all exercise, it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider to ensure these ranges of motion are right for you and your body.
So next time you are in class grab your teacher and review the ranges of motion outlined above. Remember, avoid the over-tuck! A correct tuck is just a slight press forward of the hips. Happy tucking!
– Brought to you by the Pure Barre Training Team