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The Truth About Twisted Grip in Pole Dancing – Is it Bad for You?

Twisted Grip in Pole Dancing

Last Updated on November 10, 2022

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you use one of these links to make a purchase. Read the full disclosure.

Twisted Grip (sometimes abbreviated as ‘TG’ or ‘TG Handspring’) as a Pole Dancing grip, usually used for handsprings or as a transition, is a pole goal for many people. But, as such an unnatural position, you have to wonder whether it’s causing any damage to your shoulder.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of performing tricks with ‘twisted grip’, and how we can ensure we stay safe when learning, performing or practicing this type of grip.

Many pole dancers feel that twisted grip is an ‘advanced’ trick that they strive to work towards, especially twisted grip handsprings. However, many instructors have stopped teaching it altogether, with others actively advise against using twisted grip at all.

So, what’s the deal with twisted grip?

The Truth about Twisted Grip – Is it Dangerous?

The Truth about Twisted Grip and Safety when Pole Dancing

First of all… Let’s get back to the basics about this trick.

Why is it called ‘Twisted Grip’?

It’s called ‘Twisted grip’ because, in order to perform a trick with this grip, both your shoulder and your wrist need to be twisted into a somewhat unnatural position.

The first time you perform this grip, even in a stationary position with both of your feet firmly on the ground, you’ll probably notice that it doesn’t feel very natural to twist your shoulders and your wrist in this way.

Is ‘Twisted Grip’ Difficult to do?

Actually – no. It is not that difficult to successfully perform a twisted grip handspring (for example) which is contrary to popular belief.

It doesn’t need a lot of strength or conditioning to actually perform the trick. Many beginner-intermediate dancers are probably able to do this trick, although they probably shouldn’t and their instructor definitely shouldn’t encourage it.

But, due to the trick’s popularity, so many pole dancers will flood Instagram with ‘Twisted grip‘ achievement shots.

So, why is it so easy?

The reason why beginner-intermediate dancers find twisted grip easy is because they’re unlikely to be engaging their shoulder muscles properly. This means you’re literally ‘hanging’ from your top arm, which is completely locked into place by the fact that your shoulder and wrist are rotated.

Despite the unnaturally twisted arm, it only really takes a moderate amount of core strength to lift your hips up towards the ceiling, especially if you ‘swing’ your legs up into it (like so many tend to do).

Holding a pose in a twisted grip is basically hanging from the shoulder. Few intermediate dancers have the strength needed to fully engage the correct muscles throughout the trick, so they end up hanging.

Twisted grip, therefore, is cheating yourself into a handspring before you’re ready.

As for deadlifting into it, the same applies. If the shoulder of your outer arm is not fully engaged, it will take your bodyweight by allowing it to hang down, while your core muscles push themselves up (keeping your legs high), but, your pour shoulder is still under a lot of extra strain.

Hanging from shoulder

Twisted Grip can Cause Injuries

Injuries are more common if the trick is performed incorrectly. Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that’s supported by small rotator cuff muscles.

Those small muscles need conditioning to support a grip that places so much strain on the shoulder joint.

You may be thinking “…But I don’t feel any pain when doing twisted grip!” Even if you don’t feel pain, that doesn’t mean that damage isn’t being done.

In a recent video posted by Off The Pole, they described Twisted Grip as being like chocolate cake; it tastes good, it feels good, we all enjoy eating It, but we shouldn’t eat too much chocolate cake!

You may not gain weight after eating a lot of chocolate cake, but its sugar and other fatty ingredients can still be causing damage that can’t be seen.

Some people can eat a lot of chocolate cake with little consequence, but others are less fortunate.

This is a great analogy to describe twisted grip.

If you injure yourself, you won’t be able to pole. By injuring your shoulder, you may even have a hard time lifting your arm above your head. Injuries are not worth it.

Read more: The Best Pole Dancing Crash Mats

Muscle Conditioning

Before getting tempted to try swinging your legs upwards into a twisted grip handspring, consider a shoulder conditioning and strength building programme, both on and off the pole.

What does pole dancing do to your body - stronger upper body

Properly conditioned muscles that are strong enough means you’re unlikely to end up hanging so much from your twisted shoulder.

Off-Pole Conditioning

Do other workouts to build your shoulder strength. These could include yoga, weight-training, etc. There’s also this Rotator Cuff Training Programme which students have a lot of success with.

Read more : 12 Other Worksouts for Pole Dancers to Try

On-Pole Conditioning

Perform or practice your handsprings and deadlifts in a regular grip (also true grip) before attempting twisted grip. It will feel much harder, but it will help your progress in the long run. If you’re comfortable using true grip to handspring and deadlift, then you may be strong enough to perform a twisted grip handspring while properly engaging your muscles.

Pole Dancer doing True Grip
Notice how, in true grip (standard grip), the shoulder is not freakishly twisted, but requires more strength to achieve

Use Twisted Grip at your own discretion

You know your own bodies. But, with ‘twisted grip’ remember that it could be causing invisible damage that you won’t see or feel until it’s too late.

Use your own discretion when performing this grip, it’s not the best trick out there, it isn’t something to aim for, and you could be hurting your progress by continuously using twisted grip without proper conditioning.

Pole Dancer performing twisted grip

Summary on Twisted Grip

TLDR? Here’s an overview of what we’ve covered in this article:

  • Don’t treat twisted grip as a goal
  • Condition your shoulder muscles
  • Warm up properly, including shoulder rotations and light stretches
  • Get comfortable in regular grip first
  • Use twisted grip sparingly, as a transition rather than a trick
  • Be cautious and use your discretion when choosing to use twisted grip

Further Reading

Some more articles on our site that you may find useful:

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The truth about twisted grip in pole dancing, including twisted grip handspring

Happy poling!

This post contains affiliate links. That means that, at no extra cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you buy a product using one of the links on this page. Read our full disclosure here.

Title Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Twisted Grip in Pole Dancing – Is it Bad for You?”

  1. Avatar photo
    Mariana Sánchez Nava

    I have a question. If I perform TG handspring or TG extended butterfly but not from deadlifting but from a basic invert and then twisting it, does it harm the shoulder either way?

    1. Hi Mariana, it depends on what feels right for you, can you comfortably hold the extended butterfly using twisted grip? There would be quite a bit of fast downwards pressure on your shoulder once you take your weight!

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