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Exercise Recommendation: the Knee to Elbow Touch

Do you feel “tight” or a “pinching” feeling when you try to come into full hip flexion? Well that tightness could be an indication of a weakness in that movement pattern.

The good news – the Supine Knee to Elbow Touch is a simple exercise that you can do to help correct it.


The Supine Knee to Elbow Touch

Why should you do this exercise?

The most common muscle imbalance we see in people who complain about tight or tired hip flexors are:

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  • Overworked and stiff tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscle fibres
  • Weak and/or an under active iliopsoas complex – which is a combination of two muscles including the psaos major and  iliacus


Hip flexor muscles












Why this happens?

One of the most common reasons that hip flexion imbalances occur is that our hip flexion pathway also includes some external rotation, which is completely normal and necessary. The problem occurs when the external rotation becomes excessive – making the TFL the dominating hip flexor in activities like walking, jogging, cycling, and even during sitting.

This is where the knee to elbow touch comes in, as the exercise helps to train your hip flexion in a way that promotes the use of your iliopsoas complex because it forces you to move towards the centre of your body.

Why we like it?

When performing the knee to elbow touch properly your iliopsoas complex is being engaged effectively and will bring your hip into flexion, while maintaining an active hip extension on the opposite side.

Co-contraction of your deeper core muscles in conjunction with your iliopsoas complex muscles on one side while your gluteal muscles are activated on the opposite side is an ideal muscle activation pattern – and exactly what your body should be doing during activities like walking, running, and cycling.


Who should do it?

Everybody…!!! Especially if you’re a runner and/or a cyclist 😉


Knee to Elbow Touch Coaching Cues

Here are some additional cues to ensure that you are executing the knee to elbow touch correctly:

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  • Foam roll your IT band and lateral quad then perform THIS hip flexor stretch prior to completing the exercise
  • If your hip rotators are working overtime, (and they probably are) then foam roll or trigger point them too
  • Make sure your head and the heel of your straight leg stays on the ground the whole time that you’re performing the exercise
  • Your toes should stay pointing up towards the ceiling – don’t let your legs/feet rotate outwards
  • Try your best to touch your knee to your opposite elbow and don’t progress this exercise until you can
  • Complete 10-reps per side (alternating) prior to running, cycling or as part of your warm up before strength training



Whether you’re currently suffering from hip flexor pain or not, this exercise is something that everyone should be performing regularly. So give it a try and let me know what you think!

If you are currently suffering from hip flexor pain and training at BIM, definitely let me know. As there are some additional corrections that we can do to help you get rid of the pain.



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About the author

Andrea Lawson has been a practicing Kinesiologist since 2008 and is the founder of Balance in Motion, a training facility created for people to rehabilitate from injuries, improve athletic performance, and crush their health and fitness goals. She is passionate about providing a space where anyone can step foot in and feel both comfortable and productive no matter the injury, age, or stage they may be at in their fitness journey. With this vision, Andrea has witnessed her clients achieve goals they never thought possible, and gain unmatched levels of confidence in themselves, helping them to Go Beyond Better.