Pike Jump Anatomy: Pike Jump is one of the most challenging jumps to execute. It is a vertical jump with the body being flexed into a ‘Pike’ or a ‘Jackknife’.
In a Pike Jump, both legs need to be flexed at the hip joint simultaneously so that they are parallel to the floor and knees are locked. Arms are placed forward to create a folded position in the air and this motion is also called ‘candlesticks.
Pike Jump is performed in gymnastics, diving and in other sports as well. It’s hard because the two legs have to be stretched at the same time, with all the muscles restricting the hip flexion, are now restricting two times as much as they normally do.
Because of such a high resistance, trying to master the Pike Jump incorrectly will force the more flexible part of the body (lower back) and will bring a high-level possibility of injured lower back.
Not just you need flexibility while performing a Pike Jump, you also require strength in some muscles that contract during the execution of this beautiful stunt.
Let’s start the anatomy behind the Pike Jump.
Pike Jump Anatomy: Muscles Lengthening
Hamstrings are the prime extensors or the hip and flexors of the knee. Both of these actions are against what we want to achieve in Pike Jump. Therefore, Hamstrings are stretched so that the leg can be flexed and knees can be locked at extended position.
Adductor Magnus (Ischial Fibers):
The Ischial part of Adductor Magnus is also called the Hamstring part. It is also an extensor of the hip joint and hence need to be stretched only if it has enough flexibility.
It is a muscle that rotates the leg during hip extension. But during Pike Jump, the legs are flexed at the hip so it will be lengthened.
Gluteus Maximus along with its function of external rotation and abduction of the thigh, it is also an extensor of the hip joint. So, it gets stretched while executing Pike Jump.
Gluteus Medius (Posterior Fibers):
Posterior Fibers of Gluteus Medius work the same as the Gluteus Maximus. They also extend the leg at the hip joint. Therefore, need to have flexibility to be stretched during Pike Jump.
Gastrocnemius is the plantarflexor of the foot and flexor of the knee. In Pike Jump, the foot is being dorsiflexed and also knee is extended. So, it’s stretching.
It plantarflexes the foot just like Gastrocnemius and is stretching here.
Spinal Extensors (Lumbar):
The lumbar spine, as you can see, it flexed to achieve the shape of a Pike. For this, the Spinal Extensors of the lumbar spine need to be lengthened.
Quadriceps (all 4 heads) are the antagonists of Hamstrings and act on the leg to flex it at the hip joint and are also powerful extensors of the knee. So, strength in the Quadriceps is important for Pike Jump.
Tensor Fascia Lata:
Tensor Fascia Lata is a hip flexor and also an abductor of the thigh. So, it is contracting in the Pike Jump.
Sartorius is a hip flexor, but it also flexes the knee. It is unique due to this dual action. Due to its hip flexing function, it is contracting here and requires strength.
The primary function of Pectineus is hip flexion so according to the trend, it will be contracted to achieve maximum hip flexion.
It is a major flexor of hip joint. It also flexes the trunk laterally. Both these movements are important in Pike Jump.
Iliacus works with the Psoas Major in flexing the leg towards the trunk. Thus, playing major role in Pike Jump.
While flexing the legs during Pike Jump, the legs also need to be adducted. This is shown in the picture. So, you can guess the adductors will be working here. The prime adductor is Adductor Magnus. Its strength is crucial.
Adductor Longus Pike Jump Anatomy:
Adductor Longus is also one of the leg adductor muscle group, performing the same function as Adductor Magnus.
This small Adductor also assists in pulling the medially. It belongs to adductor muscle group.
Gracilis Pike Jump Anatomy:
This strap like muscle acts as a strong adductor of the leg. So, it is also contracting along with other adductors.
To achieve that folded state as in Pike Jump, the torso has to be flexed and Rectus Abdominis does the same function. Hence, having a strong Rectus Abdominis is important for it.
When working bilaterally, Obliques also flex the torso and assist the Rectus Abdominis. Therefore, they are also important in Pike Jump.
Psoas Minor :
Psoas Minor is a small muscle. It assists in trunk flexion, allowing an individual to bend forward at the lumbar spine.
Spinal Extensors (Cervical and Thoracic):
Cervical and Thoracic Spinal Extensors will make sure that your upper spine remains erect during the Pike Jump. Their strength will play a key role.