I remember when I first started poling. I couldn’t wait to get upside down and do some of the graceful, beautiful things I saw other pole dancers doing. So I trained, and I waited, and I trained, and I waited . . . until one day I was ready for inversions. Hooray! That’s when I discovered something: It *hurts* to hang upside down by one leg. At least, it did until a) I got used to it and b) learned how to engage the right muscles.
So let’s talk about leg hangs. There are engagement and position nuances that make them easier to do, not to mention prettier.
In outside leg hang, make sure you’re gripping in the kneepit, toes pointing back toward the opposite knee/the floor, and free leg extended from the *hip*. Extending the leg from the hip is crucial, for a few reasons: it will allow you to arch your back, which presses the back of your shoulder/armpit against the pole for a better hold and makes your lines so much more expressive. That leg extension also helps to lock in the kneepit grip by placing the balance point and weight distribution in places that allow for the most security.
Also, don’t forget to engage your hamstring! If you reallllllly engage your hamstring, you’ll take a fair bit of pressure off the skin of your kneepit, and the hold will become much more secure, which in turn will allow you to play with leg positioning and experiment with different lines and extensions.
Inside leg hang is a little different. There’s generally more leg skin on the pole (unless you’re doing a “short” inside leg hang), and that can pull, especially if you’re relying on skin and not muscle to hold you in position. Ouch. Serious ouch. Next time, try this: press the outside of your foot/ankle against the pole, and the inside of your knee against the pole. Relieves the pressure on your upper, inner thigh, right? And that tender thigh skin is pulling a lot less? Now, extend your free leg from the hip just like you do in outside leg hang. It’s important that it push from the hip, not the knee. Pushing that leg out and down from the hip once again arches your back, which presses your shoulder/armpit against the pole, and once again it gives you a much more expressive line . . . along with giving you a more secure grip by providing balance/counterbalance between leg and body.
If you’re already doing these things, keep up the good work! If you’ve noticed that your leg hangs could be better, try these tips and report back on how things went. 🙂