Gray Cook and Dan John: Working in the Tall-Kneeling Position

Gray Cook and Dan John look at the self-limiting value of using holds in the tall-kneeling position. It’s amazing how quickly asymmetries appear.

This is an excerpt from the Q&A section of The Essentials of Coaching and Training Functional Continuums video

Question: A question about rotations and getting into posture when you said you’d take the ankles out by having them on their knees. If they are still limited, would you take them to rolling?

GRAY: No, I wouldn’t unless you told me they had clear mobility. The one thing that we started this with, if you’re clear on the movement screen at least by 2s, there’s no mobility problem holding in front when tall-kneeling. If you’re running into a problem in the turns, I’ve found they’ll go to front tall-kneeling and say, “It’s just not going.”

If you wanted to break them out of this position and do some rolling, you might get lucky and help them out.

The minute I get that opportunity where they’re like, “I can do this” and then, “I can’t go.” A lot of people actually get an oblique cramp when they do the turns.

Here’s what we do. We go back to the Four Bs, right? They were breathing good on this side so they were going good. They go to the other side and the very first thing they start doing is shallow breathing. The head comes forward and the butt goes out. The first thing I do is go back and get some of this alignment. If I’ve got somebody who can’t even be in this position for a minute and a half, we’re not going to have enough turns to make a difference.

Some of your clients will try to go a minute-and-a-half in front-hold tall-kneeling and a minute-and-a-half in rear-hold tall-kneeling. They’re done. Their breathing is bad. There are people whose heart rate will go up 40 beats a minute—this for a minute and this for a minute. Their resting heart rate just went up 40 beats. It’s ridiculous because this is like planking in an upright position. It really does cause you to activate some stuff.

DAN: The phrase I use for this is kneeling plank. That is how you finish a kettlebell swing. If your clients finish their swings with their butts out, tall-kneeling is your next step. This is the way you have to be. I would say almost legally, if you will, this is where you’ve got to take it back, back to tall-kneeling. If they’re finishing swings with their butts out, it is going to hurt their lower backs and it’s your fault.


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