If you have been taking my barre class, you've heard me talk about the “barre tuck” and the importance of not “over-tucking” or not exaggerating the tuck position. The term “tucking” has become as commonplace as barre socks in barre class. However, even though the term is pretty standard, the actual “tucking” has ended up having quite a few variations depending on which studio you are in. Many barre students head to their favorite class hoping to stay perfectly tucked the entire time. A lot of good intention here, however, performing the tuck out of proper alignment may be doing more harm than good. Tucking incorrectly over time can potentially cause injuries and strain to your hips, pelvis, and lower back.
What is the tuck?
The tuck originated in ballet, and refers to the position of your hips, pelvis, core and glutes, as you perform an exercise. The goal of the tuck is to stabilize your body so you can safely and effectively perform barre specific moves. Done correctly, one would activate their core muscles, drawing the belly in towards the back, while maintaining a neutral spine. If you were looking at this position on profile (side view) it would appear that body is vertically aligned with shoulders, hips, and heels all in one pretty line (think ballerina). In this ballerina-like form, the belly is actively pulling in so that the tailbone drops underneath you, and booty is drawn down and in, so that our butt doesn’t stick out (butt sticking out…not very ballerina like). In the correct tuck position, we would have a neutral spine (a slight sway to our lower back) and slight anterior pelvic tilt (pelvic bone tipping forward), shoulders drawing in and away from the ears. Your abdominal muscles will remain pulling in and working throughout each barre move.
What happens if we tuck-incorrectly?
When we over-tuck what tends to happen is the spine comes out of a the neutral position, our hips get pushed out, and pelvis tilts backwards. This position puts added pressure on your lower back and hips. A few classes tucking in this position won’t likely cause harm, but long periods of shifting your weight and pelvis backwards putting pressure on the lower back, discs, and hip flexors can cause issues over time. Being over-tucked also shuts down the transverse abdominal muscles’ ability to work properly, so you are actually limiting movement in these core muscles, and reducing ability to strengthen them.
Simple Tips for getting into the right tuck:
1) Stand with your feet parallel and hip distance. If you have a mirror, stand on profile, so you can see your side view in the mirror.
2) In your mind, or use your fingers, find one inch below your belly button. Contract right in that spot, pulling in your abdominal muscles. Your tailbone should slightly drop, abs engaged. Shoulders, hips, and heels, remain in one straight line, with a neutral spine and pelvis. This is the position you want to try to maintain while be “tucked”.
See you at the barre... and for tuck's sake, stay safe!