Have you been struggling with the straight leg straddle up?
A straight leg straddle up- in the air and upside down- is a foundational skill for all aerialists. Whether you do silks, trapeze, lyra, or rope- executing a clean straddle up is essential for climbs, mounts, and tricks. The primary movements of the hip that are performed in this move are flexion, abduction, and external rotation. Some of these muscles need stretched and some of them need strengthened properly in order to efficiently execute this move.
First, let’s review how to properly perform a straddle up.
- You must be able to hold yourself in the air with bent arms (straight arms is much more difficult). Practicing your pull-ups will help you accomplish this.
- As you invert your body, think of squeezing your hips as high as you can up toward the top of your equipment
- Keep your hands close to your hips when you are upside down
- Stretch your legs wide and extend energy through your toes
To get that wow factor, it is important to have a good straddle before you take it into the air. This means you need to train it on the ground. The important muscles to stretch in a straddle position are the adductors. Adductors move the legs in toward the center of the body- so when we straddle, we move them out and away and need them to lengthen- this is abduction. The adductors we need to stretch are the Adductor Brevis, Adductor Magnus, Adductor Longus, and Adductor Gracilis as well as the Pectineus.
There are many ways you can stretch your straddle, but let’s try this one before we go into our straddle.
Zaichik Butterfly Stretch
Our method takes a traditional stretch and adds a Zaichik spin to it.
- Sit in your butterfly position, with the soles of the feet together and the knees wide. This position will stretch the upper adductor muscles, adductor magnus, brevis, and longus as well as your gracilis and pectineus.
- Make an anterior pelvic tilt with your hips- point your tailbone backward. This will create a small arch in your lumbar, or lower, spine. Inhale as you do this.
- Return to a posterior pelvic tilt (slight curl of the tailbone) as you exhale and push down gently on the thighs. Do not let your knees lift back up to where you started.
- To intensify this, sit against a wall and place a foam roller horizontally behind your lower back. This will cause you to tilt slightly forward, therefore increasing the amount of space you can press down on the thighs.
The video below demonstrates this technique:
This stretch primarily targets the adductors, one of the larger inner thigh muscles. This will help you improve the external rotation of your hips during your inverted straddle up in aerial.
Now, try your straddle stretch and see if there is any improvement. If you are still having issues, such as bent knees, when you perform your inverted straddle, we will address that in our next article with some more tips. Our Hip Combo #1 Program is useful for those needing to address flexibility and strength issues of the hips in performing this challenging move.
Improve your hip strength and flexibility today with our Hip Combo series below:
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- Tags: adductor magnus, adductors, aerial arts, frog, inversion, silks, straddle, trapeze, upside down