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Movement Monday: Mastering the Kneeling Side Kick for Pilates Teachers


Precision and Balance in Malcolm's Kneeling Side Kick
Malcolm Demonstrating Core Stability with the Kneeling Side Kick

Today's Movement Monday focus is on the Kneeling Side Kick, a nuanced exercise that epitomises the Pilates principle of core stability amidst movement. This analysis aims to deepen your understanding of the specific muscle engagements and the importance of maintaining a stable trunk while performing this movement.


The Pilates Kneeling Side Kick is not just an exercise; it's a testament to the power of controlled movement, highlighting the intricate balance between stability and mobility. As you guide your clients through this movement, it's crucial to emphasise the role of the core muscles in maintaining trunk stability. The exercise challenges the body to maintain a neutral spine and a strong, engaged core, even as the leg moves. This balance is not only fundamental to the effectiveness of the exercise but also to the principles of Pilates itself.


The Pilates Kneeling Side Kick: Muscular Analysis

When performing the Kneeling Side Kick, the primary muscles at play include:

  • Core Musculature: The transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques work synergistically to stabilise the spine. This engagement is crucial for maintaining the correct posture and ensuring that the movement originates from a place of strength.

  • Hip Abductors and Gluteus Medius: These muscles are actively involved in the leg movement, working to lift the leg sideways while keeping the pelvis stable and aligned.

  • Shoulder Stabilisers: While the focus is on core stability, the shoulder stabilisers, including the rotator cuff muscles, also play a supportive role, especially when the hand is in contact with the ground.


Emphasising Core Stability Over Shoulder Dependence

A key point to stress during instruction is the positioning of the hand that's in contact with the floor. Encourage your clients to lightly touch the floor with their fingers rather than resting their weight heavily on the hand. This subtle adjustment shifts the emphasis from shoulder stability to core stability, challenging the trunk to work harder to maintain balance and alignment.


This nuanced approach ensures that the exercise remains focused on strengthening the core, rather than becoming predominantly a shoulder stabilisation exercise. By doing so, it reinforces the Pilates principle of central stability and the idea that all movement should originate from a strong, stable core.


Practical Tips for Teachers

  1. Observation and Correction: Watch closely for any tendency to lean too heavily on the supporting hand, and gently correct this by encouraging a lighter touch.

  2. Engagement Cues: Provide clear cues for engaging the core, such as imagining a belt tightening around the waist or visualising the navel drawing in towards the spine.

  3. Modifications: For clients who struggle with balance, offer modifications or use props to help them gradually build the necessary strength and stability.

  4. Breath Work: Remind your clients to breathe steadily throughout the exercise, as controlled breathing can enhance core activation and overall stability.


In conclusion, the Kneeling Side Kick is a beautifully complex exercise that challenges both the teacher's understanding of anatomy and the client's mastery of their own body's balance and strength. By focusing on core stability and using the leg movement as a challenge to this stability, we can ensure that our clients are getting the most out of their Pilates practice.


Let's continue to inspire and educate, fostering a deeper connection between movement and stability in our sessions.

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