Scorpions and needles...a skill I consider to be one of the most challenging active flexibility skills but absolutely gorgeous to see executed!
~ Scorpion vs. needle~
There are so many different names for this skill. I have heard of scorpion, needle, catch-pull, ring hold, standing back split, and many many more. Whatever you call it, the skill I am referring to is when you are holding your leg behind you. When the leg is bent, I call it scorpion and when the leg is straight I call it needle.
~Why is this skill so difficult?~
This is truly, what I consider to be, one of the hardest active flexibility skills. It requires strength and flexibility in the legs, shoulders, and back. In addition to that, you need to be able to balance on one foot. So often I work with people who maybe have one of the elements needed for this skill, but are lacking others. Training scorpions and needles can be super challenging, but with the correct cues and exercises, it can definitely be achieved.
~Everyone's scorpion will look different~
Based on where your body has more mobility, everyone's scorpion/needles will look slightly different. For example, when I do scorpions/needles, I lean forward slightly. This is because I have most mobility in my hip flexors and shoulders. This does not make my form "incorrect", it just makes it different from someone who has more mobility, say, in their upper back. They won't lean forward as much because that would put the stretch into their hips. So make sure, if you are using someone's scorpion as inspiration, you understand yours might look slightly different.
~Biggest mistake I see with scorpion training~
Everyone's journey to their scorpion is different, buttttttt there is one thing I see that I consider to be a huge mistake when training scorpions. This mistake is related to how people use the wall to help them balance.
Okay, so I am such a fan of using the wall in exercises to help with balance and flexibility assistance! So definitely, when practicing scorpions/needles, use the wall! HOWEVER, be aware of where your arms are when using the wall. The biggest mistake I see when training scorpions against a wall is when a person has a theraband/yoga strap wrapped around their foot and as they are pulling the leg up, they have their arms in front of them, elbows resting against the wall. Their arms are way in front of their face and elbows super super bent. The problem with this is that that does not replicate what a scorpion position would be, at all. Never in scorpion/needles are the arms in front of the body. As you can see from the picture above, they are always back. And shoulder flexibility/strength is a huge part of the scorpion training. By placing the arms in front of the body, you are not practicing a true scorpion position. I talk about this in the latest video I posted on my Vimeo. So if you use a band and wall to practice scorpion/needle, check in with where you arms are.
~5 essential exercises to help with scorpions~
There are so many drills to help with this skill, but these are 5 exercises I have found to be extremely helpful for my needles. Make sure before you do any of these that the back, shoulders, legs, and hips are super super warm! If you need any stretches to help you warm up, I have so many videos to help with that on my Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility
Arabesque leg lifts: use the wall for support
Low lunge: practice bringing torso back
Low lunge on wall: back leg bent against wall, practicing hips pushing down
Arms bend and straightening behind head
Ring kicks against the wall
~"But Rochelle, I need to see you do these drills"~
And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )
and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining all 5 of these drills!