How to Do a Knees to Chest Exercise

How to Do a Knees to Chest Exercise

Unless you’re a limber teenager, chances are you’ve experienced stiffness in your hips or lower back at some point. Whether it’s from lifting, sitting, or exercising, stiff and sore joints are incredibly common. You can help relieve some of that discomfort with a few simple stretches. If you’re experiencing any extreme pain or discomfort, though, you should visit your doctor right away.

Method 1 of 2:
Stretching Your Hips and Lower Back

Image titled Do a Piriformis Stretch Step 5
1
Lay flat on the ground and bring one knee toward your chest. If it’s more comfortable, lay on top of a yoga mat to provide some padding between your back and the floor. Keep your shoulders relaxed while you gently bring one knee up, leaving the other leg flat on the floor. [1] X Research source You can also do this while laying on a bed or while seated on a firm chair.[2] X Research source
2
Grasp your knee with your hands and pull it toward your chest for 10 seconds. Bring your knee in toward your chest slowly. You should feel your hips and lower back opening up. Bring your knee as close to your chest as it will comfortably come—you don’t want to feel any sharp pains. [3] X Research source Keep your shoulders relaxed and flat against the floor. If you have knee pain, clasp your hands behind your thigh rather than grabbing the knee itself.[4] X Research source

Modifying the Exercise: If you need to, keep the opposite leg bent while you stretch. This can help loosen up your joints, especially if they feel tight.[5] X Research source

3
Lower your leg and repeat the exercise on the opposite side. Set your leg back on the ground slowly and switch sides. Remember to hold your leg into your chest for 10 seconds before releasing it. [6] X Research source Keep breathing in and out while you stretch. If you catch yourself holding your breath, try to be more aware of breathing through this exercise.
4
Pull both knees to your chest at the same time for 30 seconds. You can either grab your knees with your hands or place one hand behind your thigh on each side. You may be more prone to hold your breath during this part, so remember to breathe in and out evenly throughout. [7] X Research source Stretching both legs at once really helps open up your lower back. If you can’t do both legs at once, that is okay! Just do what you’re able to.
5
Do these exercises 3-5 times each day to relieve lower back pressure. Stretch each leg 3-5 times, and do the double-knee stretch 3-5 times, too. Make stretching part of your daily routine—if your back is tight in the morning, this could help it relax before you start your day; or, it could be a nice way to wind-down in the evening. [8] X Research source You could even put a daily reminder on your phone to help you remember to stretch.

Tip: Join a yoga class that focuses on stretching to do something extra for your hips and lower back. Or, try out some poses yourself at home! Child’s pose is great for your hips and back muscles. Kneel on the ground and sit back on your heels; stretch forward until your forehead is on or near the ground with your arms extended or folded in front of you. Breathe in deeply 7-8 times before sitting back up.[9] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source

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Method 2 of 2:
Relaxing Your SI Joints

Image titled Do a Lower Back Stretch Safely Step 12
1
Get onto your back on the ground or another flat surface. If you’re uncomfortable, try laying on a yoga mat or thin blanket to put some soft padding between you and the ground. Relax your shoulders and lay your legs out flat in front of you. [10] X Research source You can do this exercise on a bed, but the flatter the surface, the better. This variation of the knees-to-chest exercise helps your SI joints, which connect your spine to your hips. They can get out of wack from walking, jogging, or lifting heavy things.[11] X Research source
2
Bring a knee toward your chest and clasp your hands behind your thigh. You’ll switch back and forth from leg to leg, so it doesn’t matter which one you start with. Gently pull your knee toward your chest as far as you can without experiencing any pain. [12] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source Keep your shoulders and back flat as you do this.
3
Flex your foot so it is pointing downward. Imagine a straight line going from your knee to your big toe. Try to flex your foot so that the line stays perfectly straight. [13] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source
4
Push against your hands for 10 seconds with about 20% of your strength. You don’t want your leg to break past your hands and extend outward, but you do want to put pressure on your hands. This movement helps stretch those SI joints. [14] X Research source Be careful when you do this. If you use too much force and lose your grip, your leg could slip and hit the ground.
5
Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Release the leg you’re holding and stretch it out flat on the ground. Grasp the opposite leg and pull it into your chest, clasping your hands behind your thigh. Flex your foot downward, and gently push your leg against your hands for 10 seconds. [15] X Research source Remember to keep breathing as you stretch. Try to avoid holding your breath at any point.
Image titled Use Yoga to Stay Healthy Step 17
6
Do this exercise 2-4 times on each leg, holding each stretch for 10 seconds. You could do this exercise every day or just when you feel your joints starting to get a little stiff and sore. It’s a great one to have in your arsenal for minor aches and pains! [16] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source If you feel any pain or extreme discomfort while doing these stretches, stop right away.

Try This Out: There are lots of other great exercises you can for SI joint pain. Try the “shotgun” technique to stretch and release your joints. Sit on the ground and fasten a belt around your thighs just above your knees. Lay back on the ground with your knees bent, push your legs out to the sides, and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this 4-5 times. If you feel a little pop, that’s okay! You can also put a basketball or something similar between your knees and push in against it for additional relief.[17] X Research source

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Method 1 of 2:
Stretching Your Hips and Lower Back

Image titled Do a Piriformis Stretch Step 5
1
Lay flat on the ground and bring one knee toward your chest. If it’s more comfortable, lay on top of a yoga mat to provide some padding between your back and the floor. Keep your shoulders relaxed while you gently bring one knee up, leaving the other leg flat on the floor. [1] X Research source You can also do this while laying on a bed or while seated on a firm chair.[2] X Research source
2
Grasp your knee with your hands and pull it toward your chest for 10 seconds. Bring your knee in toward your chest slowly. You should feel your hips and lower back opening up. Bring your knee as close to your chest as it will comfortably come—you don’t want to feel any sharp pains. [3] X Research source Keep your shoulders relaxed and flat against the floor. If you have knee pain, clasp your hands behind your thigh rather than grabbing the knee itself.[4] X Research source

Modifying the Exercise: If you need to, keep the opposite leg bent while you stretch. This can help loosen up your joints, especially if they feel tight.[5] X Research source

3
Lower your leg and repeat the exercise on the opposite side. Set your leg back on the ground slowly and switch sides. Remember to hold your leg into your chest for 10 seconds before releasing it. [6] X Research source Keep breathing in and out while you stretch. If you catch yourself holding your breath, try to be more aware of breathing through this exercise.
4
Pull both knees to your chest at the same time for 30 seconds. You can either grab your knees with your hands or place one hand behind your thigh on each side. You may be more prone to hold your breath during this part, so remember to breathe in and out evenly throughout. [7] X Research source Stretching both legs at once really helps open up your lower back. If you can’t do both legs at once, that is okay! Just do what you’re able to.
5
Do these exercises 3-5 times each day to relieve lower back pressure. Stretch each leg 3-5 times, and do the double-knee stretch 3-5 times, too. Make stretching part of your daily routine—if your back is tight in the morning, this could help it relax before you start your day; or, it could be a nice way to wind-down in the evening. [8] X Research source You could even put a daily reminder on your phone to help you remember to stretch.

Tip: Join a yoga class that focuses on stretching to do something extra for your hips and lower back. Or, try out some poses yourself at home! Child’s pose is great for your hips and back muscles. Kneel on the ground and sit back on your heels; stretch forward until your forehead is on or near the ground with your arms extended or folded in front of you. Breathe in deeply 7-8 times before sitting back up.[9] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source

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Method 2 of 2:
Relaxing Your SI Joints

Image titled Do a Lower Back Stretch Safely Step 12
1
Get onto your back on the ground or another flat surface. If you’re uncomfortable, try laying on a yoga mat or thin blanket to put some soft padding between you and the ground. Relax your shoulders and lay your legs out flat in front of you. [10] X Research source You can do this exercise on a bed, but the flatter the surface, the better. This variation of the knees-to-chest exercise helps your SI joints, which connect your spine to your hips. They can get out of wack from walking, jogging, or lifting heavy things.[11] X Research source
2
Bring a knee toward your chest and clasp your hands behind your thigh. You’ll switch back and forth from leg to leg, so it doesn’t matter which one you start with. Gently pull your knee toward your chest as far as you can without experiencing any pain. [12] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source Keep your shoulders and back flat as you do this.
3
Flex your foot so it is pointing downward. Imagine a straight line going from your knee to your big toe. Try to flex your foot so that the line stays perfectly straight. [13] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source
4
Push against your hands for 10 seconds with about 20% of your strength. You don’t want your leg to break past your hands and extend outward, but you do want to put pressure on your hands. This movement helps stretch those SI joints. [14] X Research source Be careful when you do this. If you use too much force and lose your grip, your leg could slip and hit the ground.
5
Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Release the leg you’re holding and stretch it out flat on the ground. Grasp the opposite leg and pull it into your chest, clasping your hands behind your thigh. Flex your foot downward, and gently push your leg against your hands for 10 seconds. [15] X Research source Remember to keep breathing as you stretch. Try to avoid holding your breath at any point.
Image titled Use Yoga to Stay Healthy Step 17
6
Do this exercise 2-4 times on each leg, holding each stretch for 10 seconds. You could do this exercise every day or just when you feel your joints starting to get a little stiff and sore. It’s a great one to have in your arsenal for minor aches and pains! [16] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source If you feel any pain or extreme discomfort while doing these stretches, stop right away.

Try This Out: There are lots of other great exercises you can for SI joint pain. Try the “shotgun” technique to stretch and release your joints. Sit on the ground and fasten a belt around your thighs just above your knees. Lay back on the ground with your knees bent, push your legs out to the sides, and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this 4-5 times. If you feel a little pop, that’s okay! You can also put a basketball or something similar between your knees and push in against it for additional relief.[17] X Research source

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