The Knees Over Toes novel style of training has become incredibly popular over the last few years. Athletes, injured people, and regular folks have found tremendous benefits in adopting the knees over toes program - and for good reason.
Being in the same space, I first found the knees over toes program on YouTube. The training style is unique and intriguing and has more than enough success stories to justify its popularity. Although targeted for knee pain, there are a handful of knees over toes program exercises that I have found incredible for the lower back and lower back pain - and this article shares a few of my favorites.
Thumbnail For My YouTube Video *Watches Knees Over Toes Guy Once*
This YouTube video was a bit of a spoof, but in all honestly I highly admire the training style and exercises promoted by the knees over toes guy (Ben Patrick). Ben went through the ringer of knee pain and found an amazing system that allows him to train and compete at a high level pain-free - much like my story overcoming lower back pain.
Knees Over Toes Program - Elephant Walk
The first exercise I'll give credit to is the elephant walk. I am not sure if the knees over program invented this exercise, but it certainly popularized it like never before.
The elephant walk exercise has a ton of great benefits - here are a few of the top things I noticed:
- Increased comfort bending forward - due to way less tension in the forward bending muscles (hamstrings, glutes, back, etc.)
- Highly increased flexibility quickly - due to the potent nature and load of the stretch
- Less low back tension day to day
In terms of scheduling this into your routine, I recommend accumulating a lot of focused reps over a few days. This exercise forces the hamstrings and posterior chain muscles to lengthen like none other, and stacking a high volume of sets and reps in this exercise over a short span can trigger an adaptation in your muscles quickly.
Why For Back Pain? Forward bending is a common pain trigger in folks with lower back pain. The elephant walk helps open the muscles that fight and wrench on your lower back when when bending forward, which allows you to bend forward with less tension and pain.
Knees Over Toes Program - Seated Good Morning
The seated good morning is one of my favorite knees over toes program exercises for advancing strength and physical ability beyond simple "get out of pain" levels. A strong seated good morning has great carryover into a strong squat, deadlift, and several other high impact activities.
As highlighted in red, the seated good morning works the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back - all muscles that contribute to a strong, resilient, pain-free lower back. *The image above is not entirely accurate to the knees over toes program. I would place the feet further out, and use a range of motion where the lower back is closer to parallel with the ground.
Seated good morning benefits:
- Lower back resilience and strength - particularly in athletic and back-intensive movements
- Increased range of motion in the hips
- Improved posture - due to the work required of the spinal erectors and other muscles that need to be strong to hold good posture
In my opinion, the seated good morning is not for beginners (see the glute hyperextension for a more beginner-friendly alternative). If you are in the pain cave, I would shy away from this until you can do it with a full range of motion pain-free. However, scheduling this movement into your program on leg strengthening days can work wonders.
Why For Back Pain? Part of overcoming back pain and living without think about your lower back is building strength and resilience to function without triggering pain. The seated good morning strengthens several (not all by any means) of the muscles required for a durable, well-rounded lower back system.
Knees Over Toes Program - ATG Split Squat Variation
Based on what I've seen on YouTube, the ATG split squat is a staple of the knees over toes program. This exercise is all-around great for the knees and lower body, but it has incredible lower back pain relief benefits as well.
See the stretch at minute 3:09
The reason the ATG split squat is so great for the lower back is because it lengthens the hip flexor muscles. The hip flexor muscles get tight from sitting, and lengthening them is something nearly everyone needs. Hip flexor release (particularly of the Psoas and Iliacus muscles) directly relieves a ton of pressure and pain on the lower back.
ATG split squat benefits:
- Lengthened hip flexor muscles - undoing lower back tension from sitting
- Better running stride - this exercise allows you the get the leg further behind the body and open up the hips while running (if you're into that)
Why For Back Pain?: The intention and benefit of the ATG split squat revolves around lengthening the hip flexor muscles. The hip flexor muscles are high on the list of the 5 main muscles that contribute to lower back pain when tight, and this exercise is a great way to stretch them.
Other Program Exercises For Back Pain
There are hundreds of exercises you can do for lower back pain relief, and some of my favorites fall outside of the knees over toes program sphere. Read one of the posts next for more exercises you can implement into your program to beat lower back pain for good:
By Muscle Group: