Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pole Moves: Using Twisted Grip

I have seen some heated conversations go down on Facebook about the evils of using a twisted grip.  Of course, now that I want to post about them, they are hidden in the dark corners of Facebook's timeline format.  I know David C. Owen is an advocate AGAINST the twisted grip. 

Read Aerial Amy's take on the twisted grip handspring HERE"When you put your top wrist in position, twist your chest and hips to face the ceiling, and then lift, you are bearing weight on joints (your shoulders and wrists, primarily) that are not meant to be bearing weight in that position. You need a good deal of shoulder flexibility, and wrist flexibility, to even get ready to go."

Check out some comments left in response to a Studio Veena post about twisted grip handspring:

TG is a great way to get tennis elbow aka lateral epicondylitis. I've have it now for going on 2 months and my practice is now severely limited. Thanks to TG, I have to wear a brace, ice 2x/day, and take anti-inflamatory meds. My orthopedic Dr. says it may take 12 weeks or more to fully heal. BE CAREFUL!! Don't too too many reps and make sure you are WARM first! A fatigued, cold muscle is the recipe for getting hurt.

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Its the twisting of the arm that is bad, its no where near a neutral position and any time you go outside a neutral body position you risk injury, no matter how strong you are. There are always exceptions to the rules, like if someone is hyper flexible naturally...but that doesn't mean we should all strive to be hyperflexy. I have never heard of a move causing as much trouble on the joints as this one. Be careful if you do perform this one.

Here is a comment from another Studio Veena post about twisted grip and shoulder pain:

Most of it comes down to 3 things: improper form, improper strength or kicking into the move.

And another SV thread:

The twisted grip is a professional level move.
Never kick up into the twisted grip.
Flexibility and stability of the shoulder is needed to perform this move safely. Before working on this move inverts and shoulder mounts should be soiled and very controlled. The body must be highly conditioned before working on these high level moves. Even with all of these suggestions taken into consideration, I have still seen this move injure dancers.....

And another:

This move aggravated a non pole related injury for me personally and I have heard of and gotten emails from other dancers who have injured themselves because of this move. Soooo should anyone chose to try this TG mount, I feel it should be done from an invert and NOT by kicking up into the mount. Its a really unnatural position for the top arm to begin with, and adding the force of a kick and the jerking on the limbs that can result, means you can VERY easily injure yourself. If you have troubles at all with your wrist, elbows or shoulders DON'T try this move!

The twisted grip takes more abdominal strength and will feel more stable than a regular grip for the cartwheel mount and some other grips, because your not relying on arm strength as Chem said, but your "pulling/hanging" from a larger muscle group, the shoulder/upper back/teres major & minor ect.. and using a straight arm to push away from the bottom. The bottom arm can cause pain and trouble too if you tend to be hyperflexible at the elbow.

I know a good number of pole moves are far from ergonomically correct so this is my thought on the TG.... If someone has the strength and flexibility to perform this safely then that's fine for them, but I don't think this is a move that everyone should be doing.


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I use the twisted grip and I don't mind talking about it. I have experienced some pains as the result of using the twisted grip which have kept me off of the pole for days at a time. Part of this is the physical awkwardness of the position itself, and part of it has been negligence on my own part. But I have also caused myself certain pains by doing other moves like the cartwheel mount. I think any move can be dangerous or harmful for someone whose musculature isn't prepared for it in terms of strength and flexibility, and even the very strong and very flexible can hurt themselves by trying advanced moves without being warmed up adequately first.

Here are some things I like about the twisted grip. I will preface this by saying I only like twisted grip after I am inverted. But once I am inverted, the grip feels more natural and seems less taxing on the wrist and elbow of my top bracket than does the split grip (or cartwheel mount). In addition to this, it offers a lot more control over the aerial movement done in inverted holds. Also, I feel like the twisted grip allows me to hold my torso straighter without the odd sideways-bowing that I have found characteristic of the split grip in inversions. Lastly, I really like that this grip offers the ability to do very slow and controlled lifts and dismounts, instead of leaps and falls.

Now here are some things that I do not like at all about the twisted grip! From the floor, it feels very awkward and can be painful if I am not very precise about my hand and body positioning. Also, pushing off into a slow lift, I have found, puts a lot of strain on the shoulder of my lower bracket (usually left for me) which can leave that shoulder hurting for a couple days (after all, a body is a lot of weight to put there). Further, if I have to shift around too much to get myself inverted in the twisted grip, I find that there is some discomfort for a day or two following behind my right shoulder blade and on the right side of my neck.

I do feel that most of the problems that I have had using the twisted grip could have been mostly alleviated though, if I had been fully warmed up before attempting to do any twisted grip handspring work. Also, whenever I do strength training, I use the Y.T.I. exercise formula that is posted in Veena's video. My friend panda (squishypanda9 who just joined the site today) has been doing that exercise and also Veena's wrist/forearm exercises with me, and I feel much safer when I'm on the pole knowing that I'm using Veena's advice to strengthen and protect some of my very vulnerable muscles and joints. And I've been on enough forced sabbaticals from the pole to realise that I'm just not going to get away with performing demanding pole moves when not adequately warmed up. And if I weren't as stubborn and sometimes dumb as I can be, I would have learnt the first time.

All that said, I learned all of the other grips before I started trying to work with TG. And I fully agree with Veena that this grip should be done from an invert before attempting the handspring. Even though I use the handspring, I still really enjoy going into the twisted grip from a "princess grip" shoulder mount. Once you get your legs on the pole, you can drop your lower bracket, and voila! You're in twisted grip and can butterfly, aysha, or whatever. I like doing inverted bodywave in twisted grip, and when I do it makes everyone at work go crazy!

I am not overly fond of the current TG obsession that's going around right now. It almost looks like its a requirement in order to stay competitive, and I think that's too bad. There are so many beautiful and challenging moves that can be performed on the pole without having to use twisted grip, and most moves that can be done with this grip can be done with other grips. Handspring "lifts" can be done with true grip although this may take more strength and more training. I presently cannot "lift" into anything with that grip, but it has to be possible because its been done in every Chinese pole performance I've ever seen. The straight edge, aysha, and jackknife, can be done with the split, forearm, or elbow grips. I'm sure that if I practiced a little more I could get an inverted bodywave with elbow or forearm grip... and actually after watching this thread, I'm sure I really ought to work on that. I agree with Veena that TG isn't for everyone, and for myself I have found that I can only use the TG handspring in moderation unless I am just in the mood to do some suffering for a day or two to follow. I have a suspicion that the need for moderation in TG may be a universal one, but each poler knows her/his body better than I!


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I know I'm light years away from using any kind of grip to lift into any kind of invert, handspring-this or that, cartwheel whatever or whatnot, or anything else.  But I am realizing that if I'm not careful, especially at my size, I am putting myself at great risk for injury.  I imagine if a twisted grip could give me "more strength," I might have used it.  But I want to preserve my body since it's the only one I have and I've already done a pretty good job of beating it up. 

Does anyone use a twisted grip?  I'd like to hear both sides of why you should or should not use it!

4 comments:

  1. I've been doing TG for about a year or so, and when we began learning, we took it slow - our teachers would simply get us into what we call the manual position (coming in from a pixie invert), keeping our ankles on the pole while being spotted, so we could feel the weight and get the positioning right. I'm now able to do TG aerial to a limited degree - some days are better than others for me to hold my ayesha and pencil - but I had a LOT of wrist issues when I started. I'm a little heavy for my height - about 5'6" and 160lbs - and my body does work a little harder to stabilize my aerial because of it. I also had a wrist injury outside of pole that has compromised my ability to do TG from a manual position. The odd thing is that, when I was first doing the handspring, it killed my wrist so much that I would have to keep it wrapped outside of class. After the injury, I can now do my handspring from the ground and not have pain in my wrist while doing it, but most of the time, I can no longer go into my regular TG grip from manual without a) pain and b) real fear that I will fall. I haven't had the opportunity to learn elbow or true grips yet, but would love to try them, as I'm not sure that TG will end up being good for my wrist as I continue with advancing. It'd probably also help if I lost 15lbs, but hey, I like cookies.

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    1. guuuuuurl...I always say I'd be inverting already if I didn't love cake so much. :-)

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  2. I have had strain on my wrists and forearms in the past since starting pole. It is with a lot of strength training, stretching and listening to my body that I have been able to prevent these isolated injuries from turning into a chronic condition. Now I almost never have any problems when poling! My skill level is no where near twisted grip moves so I have not tried them yet. If I do get to that level one day I will be taking the consideration of ensuring to tred carefully and listen to my body. One thing about pole is that every move is not meant for every body. As all bodies are different. I may not be able to do twisted grip moves since it may put my forearms at risk.

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  3. This is a move that one of our students learned too quickly without proper instruction...she was extremely strong, and picked up moves very fast, because she muscled into them. Unfortunately the instructor at the time was overly zealous in getting her to compete teaching her very advanced moves in a very short amount of time. Her body was not able to adapt to the progression of different strains on her body. Needless to say she has been dealing with continuous injuries and is rarely able to pole due to nerve damage in her arms. Some problems do not go away. Make sure you progress in a smart manner. Just because you are strong does not mean your body is adapted to these new moves. You can muscle into a move with strength, but if you are not positioned right you are straining something...and you will pay later.

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