By Theresa Racicot
We’ve all been there, right? You’re doing a split or straddling up and you either have to bend your knees or there’s the faintest of a micro-bend in your legs. Your brain lets out a Grrrrrr, not again!!!
And no matter how much you concentrate on your leg intention or pointing your toes from your quads that stupid micro-bend still creeps in.
I feel you. I love the photo above Carey took of me (many moons ago), but that micro-bend, agh it kills me. (Now it’s the only thing you can look at when you look at that photo, I know, me too!)
How can you go about fixing those micro-bends?
Some of it is you will have to consciously think about your legs and what they are doing, but some of you also need to train the muscles that help lift and extend your leg. Once those muscles are strong enough for the action it will become a little less of a conscious thought process to ensure your legs are straight.
First, as a strength coach, I am always going to say that gaining all-around strength will really help you with your circus goals, so please be doing some of that. But I also think there is a time and place for additional strengthening exercises, very specific for the goals you are trying to attain, and if getting rid of that stupid micro-bend is one of them, try these exercises below.
The main muscles that keep your legs straight and that micro bend at bay is your quad, your upper thigh muscle, most specifically your rectus femoris. The reason that it’s so hard to get rid of that micro bend is that the rectus femoris is responsible for straightening your knee and for flexing your hip, meaning bringing your leg close to your body. This quad muscle is doing two jobs at once and both jobs are demanding a lot from that muscle. This is called active insufficiency. Because of this dueling demand, the muscle gets tired, gives up, and voila, stupid microbend.
So try these next few exercises to strengthen your core and around your hip and knee joints for zapping that micro-bend.
Short Arc and Long Arc Quad Exercise
What you’ll need: Foam roller and a hard, elevated surface that you can sit on that is the height of your knees or taller. If the surface is too low and your knees are more elevated than your hips, this exercise will be much harder--nothing wrong with that, just an FYI and a great way to progress the long arc exercise.
What you’ll need: a yoga block (potentially), a wall, and a yoga mat or some other surface that provides a little cushion to your knee that’s still on the floor.
What you’ll need: a surface to lift your leg off from. You want this surface to be just a little lower than you can actually lift your leg up. The sweet spot for height is about 2 inches lower than you can actively lift your leg.