top of page

20. The Jack-Knife


My kids call this one airplane. It’s a little more involved than your average adult-kid airplane. Even though using my small children (this was 5-6 years ago) really helped me to figure out how to lower my spine back to the floor with control, I don’t necessarily recommend that teaching technique. Zero children were injured when I learned jack-knife. Let’s keep the streak alive. The jack-knife requires shoulder girdle stability, quite a bit of core control and improves hamstring flexibility as well as articulation of the spine. Not appropriate for those with osteoporosis, vertigo, neck/low back injuries, glaucoma. You should have a pretty good handle on rollover and long spine on the reformer in order to safely attempt/perfect jack-knife. You can also perform jack-knife and rollover on the trapeze table while holding onto the uprights. By pushing or pulling into the uprights, you can activate lats and serratus to help lower the spine with control. Long spine on the reformer is another great lead in to jack-knife (long spine video). 


Click here for The Jack-Knife VIDEO


Classical start: lie on back with arms at side, palms down, knees straight, legs on the floor

Recommended start: lie on back with arms at side, palms down, legs in table top or 90/90 position. 


1. Exhale tip pubic bone towards nose and roll spine off the mat until legs are overhead and horizontal to the floor.


2. Inhale to lower toes towards the floor and raise legs and spine as vertical as possible.


3. Exhale to lower spine to floor one vertebrae at a time keeping legs as vertical as possible. Repeat three times. 


To decrease neck tension: find armpit muscles to float head, neck, and shoulders, utilize support from the back of the neck, soften sternum/bend at thoracic spine to raise head.


Tips for success: press arms into the floor the entire time, keep head on the floor, access the back side of your body (hamstrings, lats, paraspinals—see single leg stretch) to eccentrically lower spine to the floor, master rollover.  


Challenges: start with legs straight to ceiling instead of knees bent, add double leg lower in between reps. 


Modifications: none

bottom of page