There is absolutely no doubt that a good straddle is the key to not only making moves look pretty but also unlocking moves that are more advanced. The straddle is also a great starting point for when you start deadlift anything on the ground. So for example, when your goal is a deadlift headstand or handstand a good straddle can unlock this skill a lot quicker for you. Also, let’s face it, seeing something on silks with a narrow straddle isn’t particularly pretty so the wider your straddle the prettier it is. But how do you actually get a nice flexible straddle?
Stretch those middles, hamstrings & Quads
One of the key things is to make sure you are stretching those hamstrings and quads regularly, because the tighter they are the narrower your straddle will be. Even if you just spend a few minutes working on your pike folds that will benefit you.
While there’s no doubt middles are tough and not particularly pleasant to train, they will help improve your straddle so the sooner you can start working on them the sooner you’ll see the benefits.
Lock those Knees
One of the common mistakes that I see regularly is something called micro bends; where you think your leg is fully locked out but there’s a slight bend around the knee cap. This is common in beginner and intermediate students because it takes a combination of strength and flex. You also need to be very relaxed in whatever you’re doing on the equipment so your brain has the capacity to even think about that extra little push in those knee caps. I myself found I didn’t get rid of those micro bends until about 2 years of training so don’t give up, just start thinking about them and over time you’ll get there.
One way to get there sooner is to sit in your straddle and place weights directly on your knee caps. Go gentle though, with no more than 1kg to start with and as it starts getting easier you can add more.
Use a wall
So, I’m 6’4 but still managed to find a wall that works – so no excuses.
The beauty of a wall is that unless it’s made of cardboard it’s going nowhere. This means that you can really push those feet into it and work that straddle!
Does it hurt using a wall? Of course it does, but it’s absolutely the best way to push your straddle further. Sit in front of the wall and push your feet into it with your legs fully locked out. Make sure you are actively trying to push your hips forwards and as you start to open up, push it further.
These are only tips and things that helped me personally to get more comfortable and flexible, so take it at your own pace and only push it as far as you feel comfortable. Even if you’re not directly working on your straddles these are good things to be working on as they’ll definitely help you with your pole and aerial silks.
Keep going amazing warriors!