The Knee Stretch • Knees Off

A Pilates program on the mat and Reformer will optimize knee function in terms of strength, flexibility and alignment. To help you understand how to help your knees, it is important to understand the way your knees work.

The knee joint is a hinge joint with primary movements of flexion and extension. This joint relies on the ligaments and muscles surrounding it for stability and support and is easily going out of alignment and therefore susceptible for injuries due to its unique structure. The work should focus on strengthening and stretching the muscles, tendons and fascia around the knee in order to reduce the risk for injuries. The ligaments provide anterior and posterior stability. They become vulnerable when the knee is twisted or hit from an angle. The muscles around the knee create movement and support the joint. The muscles that support the knee are the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hip abductors, adductors and rotators and the lower leg muscles.

Knee Stretch Series – Knees Off

The knee stretch is an valuable exercise to gain strength in the legs and to enhance leg alignment, both heels to sitting bones at the back and knees and hipbones at the front.

  • You want to be careful and avoid this exercise with anyone who had hip or knee replacement.
  • Also student with wrist injuries might find it challenging. Modify by practicing it on the floor, possibly on forearms.
  • Make sure only the legs are moving at the hip joint (extension and flexion in that joint) and not the whole body. Torso and arms stay stable throughout the exercise.


Set Up:


Breathing Cue:
PH Cue:
Third Level:


Challenges the whole body
Strengthen the abdominal muscles
Enhances knee and leg alignment
Teach isolation of lower and upper body

Kneel on the carriage with hands on the foot bar, shoulder width apart and arms straight. Place the feet against the shoulder rests, and tuck the toes under to lift the knees off and keep the spine round

Inhale – Extend the legs behind you, pushing the carriage out
Exhale – Close the carriage back to starting position

Breath in all dimensions
Align with the centerline
Hang the knees from your core
Hold the position, keep knees on carriage, scooter (one leg version)
Variations: Straight back, round back, reverse the breath

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Knees off, feet against shoulder rests, round back

Body & Flow • body and flow offers outstanding body and mind training programs for the Wellness industry

Stay strong through the core

Hands on methods:

Stand on the side of the reformer

  1. Place one hand on the sacrum area and one on the lower abdominal area to make sure the pelvic stays still.
  2. Place both hands on each side of the hips. Stabilize through the hips while the legs extend back.
  3. Place hands on the lower thigh (above -and not directly on – the knee) and press on the thigh gently so the student will have to resist while closing the carriage.

Things to remember:

  • “Lift off the wrists
  • Avoid tensing the shoulder girdle
  • Keep the connection between the hips, knees and feet