Lots of people talk about it, tell you to use it. It’s referred to as the centre of your being and the powerhouse. Most people have a vague idea what it is but what actually is this mysterious thing ‘the core’ and what does it do? More importantly, why is it important for pole dancing?
Basically the core is the bit in the middle of the body; the abdominal muscles and back muscles. To properly look at the core you have to include the hip flexors (which sit across the front of the hips) and the glutes (booty) since they have a role in pelvic position. All muscles work in pairs on a push/pull basis. As one contracts, the other one stretches to allow for the movement. The same thing happens in the core. Generally speaking the abs and back is a pair and the hip flexors and glutes are a pair.
Why is the core important in pole? All movements we do in pole will involve the core. To do pole dancing the core needs to be strong, flexible and have a good range of movement. That’s a lot to ask of it and is one of the reasons that pole dancing is one of the most effective workouts you can get. I came to pole dancing with pretty well developed core but the challenges of pole are unlike any other workout.
This blog is the first in a series to look at the core and its functions. We’ll start with strength and look at the abs.
We all know about abs in terms of roughly where they sit and that they look nice in a 6-pack!
The abs work in sections and have different functions. If you take the belly button as a cut off point then the muscles above it pull the upper body towards the centre and the muscles below it pull the lower body towards the centre. The obliques (the muscles on the side) are responsible for twisting and sideways movements.
To activate the abs the starting point is the same whichever part you plan to use. Again the belly button comes into play. The start for any effective abdominal movement is to feel the belly button moving back towards the spine. From there you activate which ever part you want to use. I should mention – whenever you activate the abs, breathe out! This starts the process of contraction and also ensures that your abs grow strong in the inward position. Breathe the wrong way round and you can have strong abs that stick out!!!!
Vampire Sit Up
This uses the abs like you would in a traditional crunch but with the ‘volume’ turned up. This movement can be done from a shoulder stand, handstand or vampire. I learned from shoulder stand and worked my way up. Wherever you start from your legs are on the pole with a good grip. I started learning this movement using my feet as the point of grip and now vary using feet or knees/thighs. When you start to learn this movement if you can get your shoulders off the floor it’s a great start, it’s just important to be patient and let your muscles figure out what they need to do and get strong gradually. To get movement, breathe out (very important) push the belly button towards the spine round the shoulders and activate the upper abdominals. Once you get past the midpoint of the movement, the lower abs kick in. It’s why I love this one, it get’s both at once.
It is very important to wait do this one once you are strong enough and it’s best tried with your teacher nearby. In case you’re wondering, yep the thought of face planting was very much in my mind first time I tried this. You need a strong invert and probably batman first. From invert, the starting point is the same in that you breathe out and push the belly button into the spine. This time the abdominal wall is activated all at once. While you push off with the arms the abs push the body back away from the pole. The hip flexors also activate to cause the hips to change angle.
Next time…….abs and back as a double act!