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Anatomy of an Outside Leg Hang

Welcome to our latest and greatest anatomy series on the outside leg hang (aka Gemini). In this blog we will be breaking down the physical demands of this move to help you execute it to perfection.


Leg hangs become a staple move for pole dancers as they learn how to seamlessly transition between movements on the pole, so nailing this move early becomes a godsend later on.


An outside leg hang has three key gripping points:

  • The knee pit

  • The waist

  • The back of the shoulder/armpit


To perform this trick, we require:

  • A safe and strong entry (straddle or jasmine)

  • Hip external rotation of the gripping leg

  • Hamstring strength

  • Hip extension of the straight leg

  • Quad/iliopsoas and abdominal flexibility

  • Shoulder horizontal extension


But before we talk about the move itself, let’s talk about safety getting in and out of this move.


Entry to our outside leg hang

Our preference when first learning a leg hook is from a straddle. This is because of the pole strength and body awareness required to string these two moves together. However, for anyone experiencing difficulty executing a straddle you can work with your instructor on a figurehead/jasmine entry instead.



An outside leg hang move can be taught from both an upright standing position and from an aerial position (straddle) so it is suitable for most low intermediate students. Often the key difficulty when learning is overcoming fear, pain and getting a clean enough leg hook.


Let’s talk about that leg hook now.


A common mistake we see amongst poles is their knee pit placement on the pole. And to be fair, they often don’t mean to do this, but when starting out they end up with their knee on their hands or very close to it from their straddle entry. So, when working on your knee hook entry, get in the habit of landing the knee up the pole by bending the elbows in a straddle. Shooting the legs up prior to hooking will get you a much cleaner hook. Our hearts break a little when we see double hooking so get your straddles strong to start with and your leg hang will feel like a walk in the park in comparison!


Wondering about our exit from our outside leg hang? When exiting when first learning we encourage a crucifix handstand slide to the floor or a straddle unfold. As you progress through movements and levels, you’ll use that leg hang to transition to some other wonderful pole movement.


Alrighty now that that’s all said and done, let’s break done the anatomy of this move!


Gripping Leg/Outside Leg

Hip external rotation

Starting with the hooked leg, you may have noticed our knee and foot aren’t in a straight line compared to our other leg. This is because our hip on the pole is positioned in external rotation. To externally rotate our hip we use our deep gluteal muscles and hamstring muscles:

  • Gluteus Maximus

  • Quadratus Femoris

  • Obtutrator Exturnus & Internus

  • Piriformis



Whilst these muscles are working to rotate, our internal rotators (primarily our groin muscles and glute min/medius) are being stretched. Without a good amount of hip external rotation we will find that our knee hook doesn’t feel secure and are at risk of fall. Working on your hip external range of motion off the pole will help secure your hook on the pole.


Hamstring strength

Next up let’s talk about our hammys. These are the muscles that sit at the back of the thigh that allow for the bending of the knee when upside down. Once our hip has enough rotation range of motion, these muscles and the grip of our skin are mostly what is responsible for keeping us hanging upside down. So ensure that your foot is pulled down towards the floor when starting our to secure your knee grip. Lack of hamstring strength will result in a loosing on your knee pit grip and a sudden drop of your body towards the floor!! And no-one wants that to happen! So ensure you are keeping that foot locked down and knee grip on at all times.



Gripping points

We’ve mentioned earlier that an outside leg hang has 3 key gripping points. However when first learning we encourage up to 5. How? With our hands of course. As you’re building up trust in your body, use your hands as a way to ensure your safety and slow exposure of the knee pit grip to the pole. It is painful after all and our body needs slow exposing!


Start with both hands on when first learning, then progress to the inside arm off before removing the outside arm over time.


Non-gripping leg/Inside leg

Hip extension

Another common mistake we see with polers first learning this move is that they don’t pull their inside leg down to the floor. Usually it’s because it feels more uncomfortable with the skin grip of the hanging leg on the pole, but this hip extension is also vital for our safety. When we extend our hip, it helps us to secure our gripping leg on the pole and also helps to place our back into a small amount of extension. When our back is in extension the gripping points on our waist and armpit become more secure, furthermore increasing our safety in the hang. So for the love of all things pole, keep your non-gripping leg down! It’s ok if it stays bent through the knee when first learning; just focus on pulling the hip to the floor.





Hip flexor and abdominal flexibility

Want to work on making your lines long and look effortless? You’ll need some flexibility first through your abdominals and iliopsoas quads to make that happen. Get your muscles flexible with some passive stretching and pair it with some active strengthening to get that knee and ankle point on fleek.



Inside gripping arm

Shoulder horizontal extension

The last thing we need to consider is our shoulder gripping point. Usually we start with the shoulders in our anatomy breakdown so it’s nice to flip the script today. For this move we simply need to focus on shoulder horizontal extension range of motion and strength. This strength is supplied by our rear deltoids, rhomboids and trapezius muscles. Pushing that inside arm into pole is another very helpful gripping point when first learning that will help you feel more secure in your hang and allow for an opening of the chest.


But what open the pain??

Much like our superman pain, this too will ease with gradual exposure, time and practice. A leg hang used to be a killer move for myself (bruises for dayyyys), but now they’re a walk in the park so one day they will for you too. Great ways to work on conditioning your skin include performing this movement whilst lying down on the floor – it’s what I did! It helped to toughen up my skin whilst working on my body awareness/positioning in a safe way.


Screening

Whilst screening for our outside leg hang doesn’t directly replicate the demands of the movement, it is a helpful way to determine whether our bodies are up for the challenge. Screening ensures we aren’t putting our body into positions it isn’t ready for yet. And in turn helps to reduce our risk of injury!


To screen for our outside leg hang we would encourage:

  • Hip external rotation of the gripping leg

  • Hamstring strength

  • Hip extension of the straight leg

  • Quad/iliopsoas and abdominal flexibility

  • Shoulder horizontal extension

  • A safe and strong entry (straddle or jasmine) and exit (crucifix handstand slide or straddle unfold)



Experiencing difficulty nailing your leg hangs?


Online telehealth appointments can be booked with the Pole Physio via our ‘Book Online’ page that can be found here. Assessment and tailored rehabilitation are provided in accordance with best practice and evidence-based treatment to help you unleash your 'poletential'.


Until next time, train safe.


The Pole Physio


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