Half kneeling is a great position for training core and pelvic stability.
It translates well into functional movement patterns such as the lunge, split stance and single leg stance positions. These movements help for performance in activity such as running, jumping, stepping up and any activity demanding single leg effort, which is in most sports.
Half kneeling is basically the same position as single leg stance except the stance leg from the knee down is eliminated. This position takes the foot and ankle out of the equation forcing you to use your pelvic and core muscles to stabilize your body.
The half kneel position teaches dissociation between each side of the pelvis while learning to control synergy of the torso and lower parts of the body.
Half kneeling is the base of the lunge position so improving the foundation here will help to improve lunge movement patterns and once mastered, it can be advanced into a stability routine with many variations to challenge the neuromuscular system.
Pelvic Exercise #1: Half Kneel Foot Raise Drill
This is a great drill to start with for mastering the half kneel position. It is harder than it looks!
- Starting in the position shown, make sure the legs are at a 90/90-degree angle. Shoulders should be level without any side leaning and the belly should be drawn inwards with focus on avoiding arching the low back.
- Think about a straight line that starts from the knee on the floor and travels to the hip, shoulder and your ear. Imagine your belt line and pelvis as being a bowl of water and you are trying to keep it level without the water spilling.
- Once in position, attempt to lift the front foot off of the floor without leaning or arching the back. Try to hold for 3-5 seconds.
Pelvic Exercise #2: Half Kneel Halos
In the half kneel position, take a kettle bell and hold it bottoms up. This can also be done with a dumbbell.
- While maintaining the check points of the posture for the half kneel, slowly circle the kettle bell around your head, keeping it as tight as possible to your body without hitting yourself in the head!
- Move in a clockwise and counter clockwise direction while avoiding torso deviations of side bending or flexing.
- Focus on trying not to lose balance or moving your neck.
- Focus on moving the weight around your head and not moving your head to make way for the weight. 10-15 reps each way is a good start. Make sure to switch foot positions.
Pelvic Exercise #3: Half Kneel Unilateral Shoulder Press
This can be done with a dumbbell or a kettle bell. To make it even more challenging, you can hold the kettle bell-bottoms up position to target shoulder and wrist stability a little more. The increased effort of gripping will ensure a higher neuromuscular response.
- Keep the elbow close to the body and perpendicular to the floor, inline with the wrist and the weight.
- Then press straight up while maintaining the half kneeling position.
- Avoid arching the back or flaring the elbow outwards.
- Repeat 10 times. Focus on the weight being in the hand of the arm on the side of the KNEE DOWN.
- Switch your stance and repeat on the other side. Focus on going slow as well. This is a stability drill not a power drill.
Pelvic Exercise #4: Half Kneel Rotations
This can be done with either a band anchored at about shoulder height or while holding a weight outwards.
- With the weight, make sure it is a weight that you can handle while maintaining good posture.
- The neck should remain neutral and the shoulder blades should stay squeezed back. There should not be any back arching. If you feel that your shoulders are riding into your ears or you feel stress in your neck, the weight is too heavy.
- Holding the weight out at shoulder height, keep your nose in line with your hands, shoulder blades squeezed and maintain the checkpoints of the half kneel position, rotate your torso to about a 45-degree angle.
- Make sure the front knee does not move inward and you are maintaining the pelvis in a neutral position while drawing the belly inward.
The same concept applies for the executing the move with the band.
- Repeat slow and controlled.
- Do not let the band pull you back to the start position too fast and do not let the weight throw you off balance.
- Repeat 10-15 times with the rotation being towards the KNEE DOWN side.
- Switch foot positions and repeat.
These are a few basic options to start with while working the half kneel position.
You can get creative and try doing other arm movements such as shoulder exercises; ball tosses or even attempt to maintain the position while kneeling on an unstable surface such as foam pad.
Ball tosses with med balls and slam balls can be added to create a ballistic training drill for the torso to target powerful torso rotational movements.
Just make sure you lock down the checkpoints of the position and ensure proper integrity without compensating!
About The Author:
Michael St. George PT, DPT has been practicing for 10 years primarily in the outpatient and orthopedic setting. He works for a physical therapist owned private practice based in the greater Philadelphia area and surrounding suburbs. Mike is certified through Functional Movement Systems for FMS, SFMA and FCS which consist of screens and testing used to measure movement quality and performance. Mike also has experience with working with numerous surgeons and physicians from the Rothman institute. Currently he works primarily with ACL, meniscus and post surgical recovery and sports injuries, return to sport testing and performance, running evaluation and re training and hand and upper extremity conditions.