Technique Tips for Aerialists: Micro Bends

Improving Your Micro Bends in Aerials 

Do you cringe at your reflection in the mirror when performing a fun sequence on the pole or aerial apparatus? Why are my legs not straight and my knees look bent? Aerial silks is a beautiful, flowing art form. In order to create the most stunning shapes, it is important to have strong lines. This can be a difficult thing to master, but with these tips, you’ll be nailing those incredible lines and reducing your micro bends in no time! 

How to Improve Your Micro Bends 

Micro-bends occur when you have an unintentional bend in your leg. This can be from weakness or tightness in your muscular system in the legs. Most people are not aware they have micro-bends or think this is something they cannot fix. We want to share some tips to help you overcome that dreaded micro-bend.  

The first step is to be aware and dedicate time to work on those beautiful lines you’re looking for. It is important to commit at least two to three days to exercises that help you build muscle and define the technique. 

There are a few things you can do in order to improve your micro bends. First, you need to make sure that you are properly warmed up before your aerial silks class or rehearsal. Warming up will help prevent injuries and will get your muscles loosened up and ready to work. Doing a combination of cardio and stretching is ideal. Once you’re nice and warm, you’re ready to start working on those micro bends! 

Ballet techniques can be very helpful in improving your lines and correct your technique. Activating your legs will start the process of reducing micro-bends. Most people look like they have loose legs and are not activating their quadriceps and pulling from their ankles. This also gives the appearance that you are not stable. We want to provide some great resources that we use to help our students reduce the micro-bend uglies! 

To start, find a comfortable spot on the ground where you have plenty of room to move around. You might want to put down a yoga mat or something similar to cushion your knees.  

Now, slowly bend at the waist, keeping your back straight. Legs should be straight. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of your thighs). Hold this position for 10-15 seconds before releasing and repeating. As you get more comfortable with the stretch, you can increase the amount of time that you hold the position. You can also try bending slightly further forward each time. Remember to breathe deeply throughout the entire process!  

After a few minutes of static stretches like this one, you should start feeling some relief in your hamstrings. Next, we’ll move on to dynamic stretches. These stretches involve movement, and they’re great for getting your muscles ready for action.  

One simple dynamic stretch that you can do is alternating lunges with a twist. Begin in a standing position with your feet about hip-width apart. Take a large step forward with your right leg and sink down into a lunge position, making sure that your right knee doesn’t extend past your toes. As you lunge, reach your left hand across your body and towards your right foot – you should feel a good stretch in your left side as well. Return to standing and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides for 30-60 seconds.  

Strengthening Exercises: 

1. Exercise – Sit on the Floor with your legs together in front of you. Squeeze your quadriceps all while pushing the back of the knees to the ground. Do this for 3 rounds of 10. You can then take it to the next level by keeping your back straight and trying not to lean back all while lifting the leg off the ground a couple of inches during the squeeze. 

2. Exercise – Sit on the floor with your legs open in straddle. The straddle should be at a comfortable opening and not to your max flexibility. Make sure your back is straight and the hips are forward. Your hands would be in front of you with pressure on your fingertips. Do not lean back, squeeze your quad, point your toes and ankles. Then lift each leg one at a time for 10 lifts. 

3. Make sure that you are also training your flexibility, which can be done several times a week in our Stretch in Flex classes or on your own at home 

When you’re finished with the strength and flexibility stretches, it’s time to move on to the aerial apparatus! Start by holding onto the pole, Lyra or silks with a baseball grip. Then work on your aerial invert. You should pull up into a straddle invert while looking back. When you begin the invert your arms should be straight once your hands reach a comfortable hang upside down with your hands close to your crotch/hips then returning to an upright position. Repeat this 5-10 times depending on how many repetitions you can do without compromising form. Make sure to film your progress each practice and pay close attention to your leg activation as soon as your legs leave the ground.  

And that’s it! With these tips, you’ll be nailing those micro bends in no time! Just remember to warm up properly beforehand and listen to your body – if something starts to hurt, stop immediately and consult a doctor or physical therapist if necessary. Happy stretching! 🙂   

Resources: 

We love this video tutorial prepared by Womack and Bowman of exercises they recommend for conquering the Micro-bends. https://www.instagram.com/tv/BoKDbxcFuGV/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1g3t457v1pcvx