DIGGING DEEPER- Get to know your Pilates exercises: Kneeling Knee Stretches

  Kneeling Knee Stretches

by Amanda Turner

Hello Hello Hello!  Rounding out the last month of the year, let’s clean up and refine Kneeling Knee Stretches on the Reformer!  This is a beginning level series that you'll likely learned in your first few sessions at the studio.   I have a love/hate relationship with this series and I know many of my students do as well.  I love them because they feel good (the first two that is) and I know that my Reformer work is coming to an end.  I hate them (I’m being dramatic, I don’t actually hate them) because those darn knees off are so hard, and it never gets easier - you just start taking limbs off!  Enough complaining, let’s get into it!

Amanda doing round back and arched back variations

 Set Up: 

~SAFETY ALERT: Thumbs forward with your fingers when hands are on the foot bar.  Kneeling on the Reformer, heels against the shoulder blocks, toes forward on the Mat, knees are apart, 2 springs on, headrest lifted to the half setting.  Round your spine, shoulders down, abs pull in.  


~Round Back: With the spine rounded, looking down towards the springs, using your glutes press your heels into the shoulder blocks pressing your knees underneath of your hips.  Deepen your abs and pull your knees back in closing the carriage with control.  Evil teacher moment: if you’re not counting your repetitions, I will only count the reps that the carriage doesn’t slam shut. I also like to imagine I have a magic circle between my inner thighs and I’m squeezing it! Ten reps and the breath is natural.  

 ~Arched Back: If this is new to you, you’ll pause, arch your back, and continue with the very same movement.  Pushing the knees under the hips and pulling back in.  If this is familiar I want your transition to happen so quickly in the spine that you don’t miss a beat with the out and in of the legs.  Keep pulling those abs in, the neck is long, the shoulders are down.  Ten reps, breath is natural, no slamming of the carriage because you’re in control!  If you’re new to this series, I find that it’s easier to learn the arched back, so I tend to have students do a set of round back, a set of arched back, and back to a set of round back. 

 ~Knees Off:  Rounding the spine, hover the knees off the mat at the height of the ankle (about two inches) and you’ll straighten the legs out and bend them back in.  The caveat is, you can only straighten the legs if you can keep the spine rounded. The upper body remains stable and strong, shoulders are down to stay out of the wrists.  Ten reps, breath naturally, don’t slam the carriage!

Amanda doing knees off


Maybe you’re having some shoulder/wrist issues or maybe you’re unable to kneel - that’s ok!  You may use the Electric Chair or even the Wunda Chair for Pumping.


~Tinkerbell - The right ball of the foot will slide forward to where the right knee was originally, you’ll hover in the knees off position and do 4 reps, you’ll switch the legs and do 4 more.

~One Leg - In the hover position you’ll reach the right leg straight behind you into the air while the left leg continues to hover.  The left leg will straighten, pushing the carriage open as you bend the right knee into your chest, you’ll switch closing the carriage the right leg will bend and you arch your back as if trying to kick yourself in the head, you’ll straighten the right leg and continue for 4 reps and repeat with the other side.

~One Arm - You take one arm off in the Knees Off position for 4 reps, replace the hand for one rep, switch the hand off for reps, and finish with both hands on for one rep.


So much to play around with, so much to challenge yourself with.  I know it burns, I know it doesn’t get easier - but isn’t that part of the fun!  Enjoying practicing!  Happy Holidays!