Is Twisted Grip Bad For You?

I have never fully understood why everyone hates twisty grip so much. Yes, it is an ‘extreme’ position to put our bodies in to. But do we agree that most of the positions us pole dancers get ourselves in to are pretty extreme? Or looking at other disciplines… contortionists, gymnasts even sports like rugby and football require more than the ‘normal’ range of movement that is needed for everyday life. So, why is this particular movement such a hot topic in the pole industry?
Aug 18

The way I understand it is that a lot of people have incurred injuries from twisted grip positions on the pole. But, does this mean we should be advised not to do it at all? Or should we prepare our bodies for it instead? Especially if we consider the amount of tricks that involve a similar position, why is it just the twisted grip ayesha that is demonised?

The twisted grip ayesha... A base trick that probably has the one of the worst rep’s in the pole dance industry. You generally put your shoulder into 'extreme' internal rotation in either extension or flexion depending on the entry point and we move through a large range, with a lot of force and weight… for example, handspring or dead lifting. These are all movements that most bodies are capable of and our shoulder is actually made to do. Surely the problem is that we haven’t prepared our shoulders how to move like that before we decide to throw ourselves in at the deep end?

I love using twisty grip, it is so versatile! I use it A LOT. Why should we talk down such a great transitional move?

How can we prepare?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many prerequisites, on the pole, for this position. Yes, there are regressions and certainly lots of tricks to help prepare, but generally there aren’t many actual tricks that require the same amount of internal rotation and overall shoulder position before we start learning twisty grip ayesha. Our bodies are just chucked in to it as soon as our instructors deem us ready.

Before we learn how to Invert, we learn so many spins and moves like cartwheel and seats which directly help us get stronger for inverting. Then when butterflies start happening it’s like BAM! Put your arm in this crazy position and hang most of your body weight off it. Yes, I know it’s the easiest to hold but if you start with split grip, cup grip and elbow grip ayesha then you will get so much stronger first. People are getting much more wise in the industry, myself included, and learning that twisted grip should not be used as the first ‘arms only’ position. Which is great! But, I also know a lot of instructors are avoiding it completely which is a shame.

Avoiding it is not only a shame, as there are so many cool transitions into it, but there are many other tricks that use large amounts of internal rotation such as elbow grip,  pagasus, recliner, igunana... So, are you going to avoid all these too?

Here are my thoughts… When you are getting to the point of being ready for arms only positions, start preparing your shoulders.

  • Strengthen and stretch your shoulders OFF the pole.
  • Work on the other grip choices mentioned above. Elbow grip is an internal rotation as well, just with less load (due to the shorter arm position) so it's a great place to start.
  • Take it slow. Don’t put weight in to the position too quickly. Use flower position, butterflies, inverted D before trying to rush taking your legs off in to full ayesha.

If you are someone who has been doing twisted grip for a while and have noticed shoulder problems, then start the process now. Leave twisty grip out of your repertoire for a bit, prep the shoulder then come back to it stronger and more body aware. If you have an injury, and I cannot stress this enough, then DON’T IGNORE IT. Go and see a therapist – preferably one who understands pole or similar disciplines so that they don’t give you the age-old advice of ‘if it hurts then stop it’!

I hope this helps people become more aware of their twisty grip training and maybe even helps some instructors to stop teaching their students to avoid it completely and to just train it safely. 

If you want help with strength & conditioning ideas... Check out my membership which aims to help pole dancers to progress their skills, whilst reducing their risk of injuries.
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