Progressive Bodyworks | Pilates Mastery with Clare Dunphy


A Perspective on the Knee Stretch Series:  Knees Off

October 10, 2018

Alright, I am fairly certain we can all agree that Knees Off is an exercise that’s difficult to both do and to teach and one that most people love to hate. Why?  Because it’s strenuous, easy as heck to cheat on, and (in my opinion) often misunderstood.  That said, we shouldn’t avoid it just because it’s hard. The Knee Stretch Series as a whole is a wonderful study of how to hold the body still while the legs are moving and Knees Off in particular carries with it an even greater challenge due to the fact that the body weight is lifted up.  Let’s dig in and take a closer look.

We’ll start by putting the exercise in context of the order.  The Knees Off is part of the Knee Stretch Series and is one of the “heart and soul” exercises in the system.  It comes toward end of the reformer order, just before Running.  The “series” is made up of three exercises:  Round, Flat or Arched, and Knees Off.  At this stage of the workout, the body has been taken through several positions, in varying relationships to gravity and it’s the last major effort called for before we cool down. 

The most important part of Knees Off is finding and maintaining a connection with the 2-way stretch in this very challenging position.  If you’re new to this concept it’s a powerful, yet simple way to feel where your legs and arms are moving from and connecting with that feeling throughout any movement.  The arms reaching from the back ribs and the legs reaching in opposition from the lower back.  If you can keep your attention and focus on that connection this exercise is much easier. 

Let’s analyze and look at the position. 

The starting position is the same as the Knee Stretches – Round Back.  The hips are close to the heels, about 8 or so inches, the spine is round; the tail under and the eyes are looking into the body.  The arm angle from the shoulder ideally stays the same throughout the entire exercise without the head or shoulders moving forward.


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Filed under: Movement Matters