The half kneeling position is a simple but effective way to improve core strength, posture and efficiency in runners of all distances and ability levels. It is a valuable position that recruits a variety of muscles in the hip and trunk (core) that transfer well to running performance. Some specific benefits of incorporating half-kneeling position based exercises into your training program are:
1. Breathing and Alignment
Two key components to a strong core and stable base are breathing and alignment. When the core musculature is engaged and aligned appropriately, it can be a platform for enhanced running performance and optimal breathing mechanics. The two must go hand in hand in order for peak function. If alignment is off, expansion of the breath is diminished, causing a limitation in airflow. Both breathing and alignment are traits that can be trained. The attention to detail in the set up of the half kneeling position allows both breathing and alignment to function at their highest capacity which will translate well to running training.
2. Hip Stability (glute activation)
Stable hips are essential for endurance running. When the hip musculature begins to fatigue and the characteristic “hip drop” occurs, the amount of force being put into the ground diminishes and there is a drop in performance The half kneeling position requires a high level of control at the hip to create a base of support. The main stabilizers that are used in this exercise are the glute muscles. As you are running, it is crucial that the glutes are active as stabilizers so they can optimize your efficiency and then produce force during your toe off phase. Note: When performed correctly, the half kneeling position should be a fatiguing exercise on the hips.
3. The Position Transitions Well to Other Exercises
The half kneeling position is a not only a crucial piece to master for running training, but it translates into other strength training exercises as well as daily tasks/activities. Strength and power exercises (squat, deadlift, clean), stability exercises (band walks, plank, bridge) and daily postural tasks (standing, sitting, general movement) all have similar features that can be taught in the half kneeling position. It sets a broad guideline for positional requirements that will help optimize performance.
Set Up Explained
Place one knee on the ground and the other knee in front of your body with the foot flat (note: each knee should be at 90 degrees
Attain a tall posture with a stacked position (shoulder over hip over knee) by tucking the hips under (squeezing the glutes) and gluing the ribcage down (activating the core abdominal area).
Tuck the toes under the back foot for extra support.
Notes: - 75%+ of bodyweight should be in the knee that is on the ground
- no weight shift should occur during the exercise
The cues of “tuck the hips” and “glue the ribs” are features that will be useful in strength and conditioning training as well as in running. Focus must be set on carrying the lessons learned from half kneeling into other aspects of training. The half kneeling is used heavily in our programs at Iron City Elite and should be a component of any strength and conditioning programs for runners!