Yes… you read that right. When Joe gave me his blog I wasn’t sure if I should tell him “no way” or “great job!”. You can all be the judge!

by Joe Cartwright, BA, CPT

Twerking. It has been around for years, but Miley Cyrus has boosted its popularity to a whole new level. If you don’t know what twerking is DO NOT GOOGLE IT!!! Let me attempt to explain. According to dictionary.com, twerking is defined as the following:“to dance to hip-hop or pop music in a very sensual way typically by thrusting or shaking the buttocks and hips while in a squatting or bent-over position.” Why would I write a blog on this would you ask? I write about this because twerking might very well be the best base of learning to train and exercise correctly!

How many times have we asked you to tilt your pelvis one direction or the other? How many times have we told you to stick your butt out as you squat down? How many of you have trouble doing all of this? Let’s highlight some of the terms in the twerking definition: “shaking the buttock and hips” and “in a squatted position.” Do you see the correlation?

Many of us deal with a low back sway or tilted pelvis. This can cause issues in low back tightness or tight hip flexors depending which way your pelvis is tilted. Sometimes making the neurological-muscular connection to move your pelvis in the direction you need can be difficult. It takes practice; twerking might be a good exercise to improve that motion!

We use cues like “stick your butt out” because we are looking for what is called lumbar extension from a muscle called the quadratus lumborum (QL). Your QL extends your low back to avoid a shearing force on your spine when it is loaded with weight. This extension movement is quite exaggerated in the backward movement of a twerk; perfect execution of lower lumbar extension.

We all know how important leg strength is, especially in the glute region. Your glute muscle is the most powerful muscle you have. It’s where most of the work should generate from, but a lot people tend to use hamstring or piriformis muscles to do all the work. As a result, we end up with muscle imbalance and tightness which then leads to injury. If you could get glutes to fire properly and take over the major load they are intended for, it would save you a lot of injury and tightness in the long run. If twerking properly, you are in a squatted position (great for quadricep and hamstring endurance) as well as moving hips forward and backward. This movement is great for making that neuromuscular connection for pelvic control. You also must be able to fire you glutes properly during the movement which is essential for everyday life in walking, exercising, or even getting up from your seat.

As a trainer you cannot go a day without assessing everyone you see. When you go to the movies, you calculate the percentage and ratio of overweight people to size of popcorn and soft drink. When you walk in the grocery store you look at people’s gait and try to diagnose which muscle is weak. When you see Miley Cyrus twerking on stage in front of the entire world you think, “Wow. That is a great exercise for lumbar extension and pelvic control!” I try to be a positive person and find the silver lining in everything I do. So even though we have teenage boys and girls provocatively moving on the dance floor, at least they will know how to keep a neutral pelvis and won’t have any low back issues as they get older!