For Coaches Fixing naturally-bent knees

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Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
I have two guys and one girl who are incapable of straightening their legs. I'm not talking about a lack of tightness during skills -- I mean they physically cannot get their legs all the way straight, even when squeezing as hard as they can.

Is this safely fixable? If so, what's the best way to go about it?


New Member
Feb 22, 2008
Omaha, NE
I have heard of showing the judge prior to the child's routine that the gymnast's legs WILL NOT straighten. I am not sure if this is officially acceptable or not but I have seen coaches do this before. I have a gymnast right now with the same problem. It's frustrating for both the gymnast and the coach.


Well-Known Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
I would tell them whenever they're sitting at home, sit in pike and use one hand to push down on their knee, and the other hand to pull their foot up flexed (so they're trying to keep most of their leg down and just get the heel/ankle pulled up off the ground). I had a friend with a similar problem and I used to have much worse pike flexibility, and we started doing this a lot around the time we were L6 and had a lot of improvement. I still do it all the time.

Also on bars they can do straddle and pike hang with their toes up on the bars, trying to straighten their legs.

I think if when they stand up naturally, unless their legs are bent (not usually the case) they can work on it. I think this is a strength and flexibility issue in that where their muscles naturally are going when there's not the same force as when they're standing (not sure how else to say it, I don't know if that makes sense) is to contract more, and they don't have the strength to push against it. If they were more flexible they'd need less strength to push against it. Some people just have much tighter muscles. I'm not an expert though so that's kind of just my guess. But I'm pretty sure it can improve at least for some because I had a friend who had the knobby bent knee look as a younger child and went on to become a high level rhythmic gymnast. She had to work for it though.


Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
Jun 26, 2008
Most likely these gymnasts have flexibility issues and weakness at "end range" of movement. It is unusual that anyone would have a permanent
structural reason for this.


I'm wondering if the PT exercises they give for tight muscles/connective tissues after a knee injury will work for this? They're pretty simple, just sitting with the heels elevated for a while (knees sagging), and sitting in a pike and bending and straightening the knees sllloowwwwwwwllllly.


New Member
Oct 12, 2008
Both me and my brother had this problem. Our coach fixed it by using a set of stall bars (a bunch of bars on a wall). Put one (straight) leg on a bar and cross the other one over just above the knee, grab a bar with your hands about a foot and a half to two feet above the bar your feet are on. Hurts like a mug but it stretches the tendons and muscles that keeps the knee from straightening all the way. Rinse and repeat for both legs.


Proud Relative
Aug 29, 2007
I've had 2 girls that just had what I call nobby knee's. We had hoped that as they grew they would grow into them. Their knee's always looked bent and not straight, and as a coach I was always telling them to straighten them. It took me a while to realize they were straight, its just the way their knee's look that make them look bent. Well here we are 5 years later, one of the girls that I still coach is now a 12 year old evel 7 and although she has grown and her lines look better, she still has those darn knobby knee's. But they are only really noticably on beam.
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