How are barre classes bad for you? Barre classes are bad for you if you do not practice barre tucks correctly. As many as 85 percent of men and 75 percent of women have an anterior pelvic tilt resulting in lower back pain.
Barre classes are a workout technique that blends elements of different exercise styles such as ballet, pilates, and yoga. It focuses on low-impact yet high-intensity movements that are designed to help strengthen your body in ways that few other workouts can.
How to not suck at the barre tuck!
A trick to getting into that correct tilt is as simple as thinking of pulling your belly button in, then up under your ribcage. You have to remember to keep your lower belly engaged as well! When you lie down on the mat, keep the tailbone heavy and the sit bones pressing away from it.
What are the benefits of barre classes?
Traditional resistance training exercises, such as squats or push-ups, move your joints through a full range of motion, whereas Barre classes focus more on isometric contractions, which means that they involve zero to little movement. A common and well-known example would be the plank.
Due to the nature of the different exercises, different muscles, more specifically different muscle fibers, get recruited. Isometric contractions, such as the exercises in Barre classes, activate Type I fibers, which provide a low force output that can keep working for an extended period of time.
On the other hand, traditional resistance training typically activates Type II muscle fibers, which contracts quickly and are responsible for more powerful and dynamic movements. These fibers are the ones gym-goers target when they are looking to increase their muscle size.
Therefore, as you will be performing many repetitions of the same movements involving specific muscles that you would not usually train, it is very easy to experience that ‘burn’ as you are working those muscles to exhaustion.
Furthermore, as we use Type I fibers to maintain our posture, joint positions, and even to walk for long distances, Barre classes can also boost endurance, improve your balance, increase your range of movement of your joints and also promote better posture, which is essential for most of us as we spend a better part of our day sitting down.
Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise said, “Barre and Pilates are great modes of exercise that can result in better posture, improved stability, and muscular endurance".
Why do some people argue AGAINST Barre classes?
In every Barre class, no matter which position you are practicing, during every rep, your instructor will definitely remind you of the barre tuck. This is essentially making sure that your bottom is not sticking out, but perfectly scooped under.
A whopping 85 percent of men and 75 percent of women have an anterior pelvic tilt, which means that your behind naturally sticks out and your back is arched. This percentage might have increased, especially considering the increasing hours that the average salaryman spends sitting down.
Therefore, when you force your body into a posterior pelvic tilt, such as when you do a barre tuck, you are putting pressure on the discs in your back from an opposing direction. This creates joint instability in your lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint. This increases the risk for sciatica (chronic lower back pain) and herniated or bulging discs in the lumbar spine.
You might be wondering: “Why would these instructors encourage us to do a barre tuck when it can cause all this harm?”
Debunking the myth against the barre tuck!
Inherently, there is nothing wrong with the barre tuck.
However, according to Karli Taylor, founder, and creator of BarreFlow, the fitness industry’s “more is better” mantra has instructors (yes, some of them are not immune to this misinformation!) and Barre class members over-tucking past the neutral pelvis and intentionally creating a posterior pelvic tilt.
The barre tuck, in actuality, is meant to bring you into a neutral pelvis position, hence why more competent instructors emphasize the fact that your bottom has to be perfectly scooped under. You have to use your lower abs and glue muscles to keep the pelvis stable in its neutral position, with your pubic bone and tailbone in line with each other.
If your body is not in a proper alignment, then not only will the workout be ineffective, but it will also bring about the injuries as discussed earlier.
So, worry not and Barre on!