“Maybe the injunction ‘pull up’ should be replaced by ‘press in'” Anna Paskevska
Dancers might be better off, and much less confused, if teachers agreed to not ever say this ever again. “Pull up” is often misinterpreted because the dancer is not told what to pull up. Often the lower abdominals are pulled up, resulting a tight, tucked under position of the pelvis. By squeezing the gluteaus maximus you are limiting the opportunity for freedom of movement of the femur in the hip joint.
Instead of pull up, we might choose “drive your tailbone toward the floor,” or “pull your head off your neck” because ultimately what we probably want is a lengthening of the spine and activation of the lumbar muscles to “suspend” the pelvis. This is what we probably mean, but “pull up” is also employed for reasons totally unrelated to posture when we just don’t know what else to say.
One of the biggest revelations I had as a dancer was to realize that part of “pulling up” is feeling a driving connection into the floor, not away from it. You actually don’t need to try incredibly hard to accomplish this… it’s already a universal law of physics:
Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation states that every massive particle in the universe attracts every other massive particle with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them
Thanks, wikipedia, but what does that mean?
Every object has mass, and every object on Earth has weight. Weight is the product of your mass and the force of gravity acting on the body. That’s why planets and people and asteroids float in space. In other words, your mass is a constant, but your weight can change depending on the forces of gravity (or where you are in the solar system).
You may remember from high school physics that gravity moves at a rate of 9.81 meters-per-seconds-squared. Since gravity is acting on your body even when you are just standing there, there is “motion” moving through your body that drives your weight into the floor. Now, let me introduce you to yet another universal law of physics:
Newton’s Third Law of Motion: The mutual forces of action and reaction between two bodies are equal, opposite and collinear.
Stated another way, the ground exerts a force on your body that is equal and opposite to your weight.
So getting back to “pulling up,” gravity does the work to drive your weight toward the ground, and the ground gives back an equal amount of force.
And all you have to do is stand there.
Using this image, you don’t have to work so hard to muscle through movements. Simply elongate the spine and let nature do the rest of the work.