The Deep Knee Bend is an excellent, endlessly useful movement for balancing technique and stability.
The deep knee bend is a very common and convenient position. It is used to rest, observe, pick something up, look for animal tracks, etc. As a movement, it allows an easy and quick transition to ground positions, such as kneeling and squatting. Because the feet don’t come flat on the ground, it is not as stable as a deep squat, and can’t be held as long due to fatigue. However, it allows a quicker transition to and from standing.
Here’s a demonstration of the Deep Knee Bend…
From a functional standpoint, the deep knee bend is excellent especially at improving or maintaining feet and ankle mobility and stability. Even though we consider it a walking movement variation, it can be seen as a balancing exercise, even when holding the position on the ground, because you are supporting all your body weight on small points and base of support (the ball of your feet and the space between them).
The feet and ankles must be in the right position and stable, a position which strengthens them dramatically over time. If you are not used to it yet, you will feel the “burn” very quickly, and your balance and ability to relax will be quite challenged!
When you’ve developed the ability to hold the position at least a minute on the floor or ground, you can add a level of complexity and difficulty by practicing the balancing deep knee bend, or with some of the other ideas below.
How to Perform the Deep Knee Bend
From a standing position, bend your knees and start lowering your center of gravity while maintaining a tall posture. Lower yourself slowly so you can better control your position on the way down. Bend your feet, keep your heels up and off the ground, and shift all your bodyweight to the ball of your feet until your knees are fully bent.
You should end up in the deep knee bend, well balanced, feet and ankles stable, straight back, ample and relaxed breathing, and relaxed arms.
If you’ve lost balance, lean forward and use your hands or tips of your fingers to assist. From there, you can gently push yourself back to the Deep Knee Bend, and again use your hands or fingers for assistance whenever you need it.
Birds do it together. So can human beings!
How to Perform the Balanced Deep Knee Bend
Jessika is assuming the balancing tiptoe standing position. She’s in control of her position and balance.
She slowly lowers herself, maintaining that balance. She’s mindfully focusing on her whole position from head to toes, especially the position of her feet on the beam, and the stability of the feet and ankles.
Jessika is holding the Balancing Deep Knee Bend stance, well-aligned, relaxed and breathing. It is so effortless she is smiling!
Before practicing the Balancing Deep Knee Bend, make sure that your ground level position has become easy for you.
You can also transition to practicing the deep knee bend on a rounded rock, or uneven ground, or inclined/declined surface.
Other good ways to practice include alternating between a dynamic deep knee bend from standing and back up to standing, a slow or very slow deep knee bend from standing and back up to standing, or going down slowly and back dynamically or the other way around.
You can also add weight…
You can walk forward…
Or, you can shuffle sideways…
The goal is to be skilled at the position and basic transitions regardless of your speed.
So, after you’ve mastered the Deep Knee Bend position on the ground, start the Balancing Deep Knee Bend on a simple 2×4 board, which serves as a flat, stable, and barely elevated surface.
Eventually, you should work up to practicing on rounded, elevated, narrower, and even unstable surfaces, such as those found in nature. Just keep it safe by keeping it progressive, as always.
Note: This article contains material from Erwan Le Corre’s book, The Practice of Natural Movement.
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