In Fitness, what is a Knee Pull?

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  • Written By: Jessica Reed
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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The knee pull exercise is a low impact exercise that can be used for working out or as a stretching exercise. It's used in cardio, strength training, and even as a Pilates stretch. Using the knee pull not only adds more to a strength workout, but the stretching technique can lessen aches and pains in the knees. Those suffering from knee pain or soreness as a result of injury, age, or physical condition may wish to try the knee pull stretch to see if it brings some relief to their symptoms.

It's important to consult with a doctor or personal fitness instructor before adding a new stretch or workout to a routine. Instructions should be followed carefully, and an exerciser should stop at any sign of pain or discomfort. Contrary to the once popular belief, pain does not equal gain when it comes to exercising. Instead, pain is a sign to stop to prevent an further injury from occurring.

Two variations of the knee pull exist. These include those performed in the standing position and the lying down position. When lying on the floor, an exercise ball placed under the knees and shins can make the exercise easier for those who are having trouble or discomfort.


To perform the standing knee pull exercise, also known as the knee pull to chest, the person stands with her feet hip-width apart and her posture straight. Next she slowly raises one knee straight up toward her chest without twisting her leg to either side. Pointing the toes can help for those who want a good, strong stretch. If the person is having trouble, she may choose to wrap her hands around her knee and use this force to gently pull the knee toward her chest. This stretches the muscles in the leg without requiring those muscles to put any extra effort into lifting.

A cardio version of this exercise can be incorporated into a workout to help strengthen the legs and abs without having to do any crunches. The person performing the exercise raises her arms straight up in the air and curls her hands into fists. Then she lifts her knee toward her chest while bringing her arms straight down so the elbows go past the knee on either side. The movement looks somewhat like a kick that cheerleaders perform at a football game, only the exercise does not require the performer to kick forward. She then lowers her leg and repeats with the other side.

Performing the knee pull lying down requires the person to lie flat on her back either with or without an exercise ball under her knees. She slowly pulls her knee toward her chest either on its own or by wrapping the hands around the shin and pulling the leg inward. A strength variation on this is to perform a crunch while bringing one knee in toward the chest. The person places her hands behind her head and twists her body so the elbow opposite the knee she is lifting almost touches her knee. She then repeats this with the other leg.

Whether performing these exercises as a stretch or using the more intense exercises for cardio and a workout, it is important for the person exercising to start slow and not over do it. When performing any exercise, these can be used along with other stretches to warm up before moving into the actual exercise section of the routine. Exercising before the body is properly warmed up can lead to pulled muscles.


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