The discipline of straps is not new to circus, but in recent years, it has become increasingly popular as a performance discipline and a cross training tool for other aerial disciplines. Beginner straps students may feel a little intimidated when they try skills that many others can do consistently. They might wonder how they will ever get strong enough to do even the easy skills, let alone the impressive switches and flare circles to flags, while hanging on only one arm. Well, those other experienced students did not get them right the first time they tried them. Beware, it is very tempting to test your strength and try one of these skills without doing the small steps of progression that leads up to the finished skill. This could cause an injury and delay your goals on straps.
Here are a few tips to help beginner straps students meet the strength requirements to achieve their dream skills. Small progressions are the key. The most important and difficult exercises to master are one arm straight leg raises and flags. First develop your strength using two hands. You do not need a pair of straps to do leg raises, a wall bar or trapeze bar will suffice to start on. Get your body comfortable on the straps by doing many basic shapes. Test your strength by allowing your body to move away from the straps and build your strength to correct it. Break your exercises and skills into quarters if you are struggling, and be patient with your body to develop enough strength before moving to the next progression. Keep looking at your body during strength exercises to make sure you are employing the correct shapes, like straight hip line, straight legs, feet close to the straps when inverted, etc.
Use elastic band exercises to warm up and cool off after every training session. Learn about the bio-mechanics of your shoulder and how to employ the correct shoulder positions before starting your exercises (keeping your scapulae down and back is incorrect for aerial work!). The more that you know about your shoulders, the better you will be keeping them healthy and strong. If you want to avoid shoulder pain and injury, get coaching to help you with your progressions and correct grip and wrist positions during your straps training. I am available in person or online to train and guide you through your straps journey, and helping you keep healthy shoulders.
You can contact me through my website! TrixCircus.com/Training
Good luck and here’s to many years of healthy shoulders, no matter what aerial discipline that you do!