Photo credits: Scott Peterson
A microbend is typically referred to as an unintentional bend in the leg, and is also commonly known as “the bane of every pole dancer’s existence.” Microbends typically differ from intentional bends based on muscular engagement. But this is good news! Muscles can be strengthened, and better habits can be formed.
So how do I slay the beast?
Obviously if you drill leg lifts a million times a day, they are bound to get better, stronger, hopefully straighter…and really tired. We want to work smarter, not harder. So what is your approach?
You’ve probably hear a million times to engage your quads, and it is true: one of the primary functions of the quadriceps is knee extension. I want you, right now, to stand up, squeeze ONLY your quads on one leg, and lift your leg. Look at that leg. Keep squeezing. Is that the straightest leg you have ever produced? If so…CONGRATULATIONS!! IT’S WORKING!!!! Do that all the time, every time, and all of your problems will be solved! 10/10.
If you’re like the rest of us plebeians, there’s probably still room for improvement and THAT’S OK! There are plenty of other muscles that can join in if you just know how to command the troupes.
The Magic Word
If your leg had room for improvement it is likely that when you lifted it, you thought of “pulling” that limb up toward the upper half of your body. “But that’s what you asked, right?” I did, I did ask that. It was a trick question.
This time I want you to take your leg in front of you, raise it a few inches however you would like, and then push. Push through the back of your knee. Push your entire leg outward from the very top of your hip socket, and try push your toes an inch further away from your body. Don’t just lift up. Push down and out so hard it creates a ski slope effect for your leg to raise.
Now look at your leg. Do you see improvement? The improvement is not in the action, it is in the approach. If you change your approach you can change your results, and hopefully the results you see are to your liking.
Reaping Your Rewards
Now that you have a beautifully engaged leg to show off, you want to make sure to always present it in its best light. Even the straightest leg in the world has its more photogenic angles, so once you make a habit of your new approach make sure you get the most out of it!
- Use External Rotation
Your leg can sit in the hip socket neutrally, internally rotated, or externally rotated. When you rotate your leg so that your knee and foot face away from your other leg, you are externally rotating your leg. This can help allow your leg to lift more independently of your hip (which make it look longer), allow your hip flexor muscles do their job in lifting the leg to relieve the quadriceps of some of the work (which streamlines the top of your leg), and visually take away that bump in the middle of your leg that we call “the knee.” Everyone naturally has a much flatter line down the inside of their leg than down the top of it. No Instagram filters necessary for that effect!
- Point Your Feet (and ankles!)
Why work so hard on keeping your legs straight if you stop working right before the finish line? Make sure to keep that extension going all the way down your ankle to the tips of your toes for the best lines possible!
- Wing Your Feet
This isn’t a way you can learn to fly, but it is the final step in a beautiful leg line. While you are externally rotating your legs to turn your knees to the outside of your body, also work to engage the outside of your ankle to accomplish what is called “winging” your foot. If you sit with your legs in front of you, externally rotate them from the hip, and then think about pulling your pinky toes to the ground, you will create the wing. This is great for ankle stability (especially my friends in heels!) as well as giving the illusion of the longest lines possible in your body!
Habits and movement patterns cannot be changed overnight, but with a solid approach, you can make the most efficient use of your time! Stay tuned for part 2 to learn different exercises that will aide in strengthening your “push” muscles as well as making good use of those lines to develop active flexibility!