Locking your knees?/active flexibility help

I tried searching the discussions but I couldn't find the info I was looking for. When training active flexibility, what's the consensus on "locking your knees"? I've always heard "locking your knees = bad," but I'm struggling with how to engage the quads, avoid microbends in the legs, and be able to progress in aerial splits/leg extensions without pulling the kneecap tightly back.

Full disclosure, I am differently abled. I have limited mobility and some nerve damage and numbness in my pelvis, and because of that I have a frustratingly weak butt and hips. I have seen doctors and done physical therapy, but I find that it doesn't produce results. I work VERY hard at strengthening my lower body, but there seems to be a limit to how much strength I can gain, and therefore a limit to my active flexibility.

For context, my floor splits are fine (middle splits are quite good) and I can do oversplits most of the time. For pole work, I can do a jade split and a machine gun (most of the time), but not a bird of paradise. I can do a penche, but not an eagle on the pole. I can hold my legs sideways fairly well (split heel poses are fine), but holding my legs directly in front or directly behind me is nearly impossible, so I think there's something I'm missing with the active flexibility work. Appreciate any info you have.
Nov 11, 2020
Everyone's body is different and for some locking out isn't a big deal but others it is. What did your doctor and PT say? The big problem can come from those who try to hyperextend without having the natural length. However, over time some say it will cause damage, but I've heard others state it's ok. Anyway if this is a concern there are exercises that can be done to retrain to "limit" and retrain the movement. Here's an example [www.youtube.com]

You sound a lot like me, my hips are very open, always have been and things like splits no problem. Tell me to bend over and touch my toes or pull my leg up behind me, now that's taken a LOT of work! I focused a lot on training the core including the pelvis. Have you tried using any of the glute strength exercises here, flowmotion stretches or done the back mobility routine here?

It would make sense that having pelvic issues these movements would be challenging.

Something else you might want to try is hypnosis or some kind of mental training. Our bodies can be tricked into being stuck or unstuck in movement patterns etc.
Nov 11, 2020
Thanks Veena. I will definitely save that video and keep it in mind. It's sounding like locking your knees is mostly a problem if your legs are holding weight? So not really an issue for leg lines in the air. Possibly not a big a deal as I thought it was.

I could definitely use some more back mobility because I can't do any foot-to-head movements either and I have quite a hard time arching my back (I have limited mobility in my neck and spine, too). I can do a nice extended dragontail and I'd love to be able to do a rainbow marchenko (I know that's asking a lot :-D) and I wish I could do an eagle as lovely as yours! As of now I do cat/cow stretches, the upper back stretch on the pole, the chest stretch lying on yoga blocks, and superman lifts. I struggle a lot with the camel stretch, the cobra and especially backbends. I can DO them, but they feel awful and I can't hold them for more than a few seconds. It's like my body rejects moving that way. A lot of back stretch routines heavily utilize those, so I feel like I get left behind.

As for my glutes/hips/core, I do LOTS of squats, standing hip raises (for the glute medes), single leg step-downs, bridge lifts/holds, standing and lying leg lifts/pulses, needlescale kicks, holds and pulses (from a down-dog), planks, stomach vacuums. I try to do all my conditioning and stretching 1-3 days a week. The exercises can be VERY hard with the nerve damage and numbness.

Anything you suggest I add, to either the back mobility or the core/glute routine? I'm planning to go see a new rheumatologist when I can afford it, but that's gonna be a while. I haven't had great experiences with PT (they seem to be more interested in billing my insurance and collecting money than helping me, and even if they want to help, their training is for normal functioning, not crushing pole goals). I'm definitely open to hypnosis, especially since I haven't gotten a lot of help from conventional medicine, but I admit I'm worried about swindlers. So for the most part I've had to figure out a lot on my own.
Nov 11, 2020
I would try working the smaller muscle groups of the glutes and pelvis. These are all good for that: Hip lifts (seated not standing with correct posture) V sit compressions, pike compressions, booty squeeze, clamshell. All found here [www.studioveena.com]

I would also suggest the flowmotion routine here as well.

PS I can't do an eagle at the moment as I've not been training it, I really have to stay on it as my back isn't naturally flexy. I can hardly grab my foot right now. Too much time working on lessons and not enough training :)
Nov 11, 2020
Thank you Veena! Appreciate your input. :-)
Nov 15, 2020
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