UncategorizedHands on Knees vs Hands on Head

May 28, 20201833

A study last year looked at two different fatigued resting styles and how they impacted a soccer athletes ability to recover. The study done in February of 2019, took 24 female Division II soccer players between the ages of 18–22 and tested their fatigue from high intensity interval training.

We have all heard a coach after a hard exercise or session say, “walk around with your hands on your head.” The thought was that standing tall allowed their athletes to open their lungs and take in more oxygen. The study resulted in a much different way to treat fatigue.

The research (Michaelson et. al, 2019) compared two postures (“hands on knees” vs. “hands on head”) to see how the recovery of athletes from high-intensity interval training was impacted. The study found that the posture of “hand on knees” resulted in a superior heart rate recovery and greater tidal volume (the amount of air inhaled in the lungs with each breath) compared to the posture of “hands on head.”

The issue with the hands on the head posture is that it flares up your ribcage, extends your back and closes your posterior ribcage so that it can not expand effectively during the inhalation phase. The posterior ribcage actually contains a large volume of your lung tissue so it’s far from ideal to close it off. This inhibits effective working of the diaphragm, the primary muscle of inhalation. To compensate, the majority of your neck and back muscles will try to make up for the lack of diaphragm function during inhalation.

A more optimal posture would be to put your hands on your knees and look upwards slightly. Unfortunately, the athlete in the study photo above is looking down rather than up, but if she looked up, she would be in a more effective position for her airway, as the cervical extension would allow proper airflow into her lungs.

There’s a reason why your body gravitates instinctively to “hands on your knees” when you’re gassed during a workout. Your body will want to bend over when you’re really tired, and put your hands on your knees. When it comes to these things the body knows best so why fight it? With your hand on your knees you are allowed to fill your lungs with a larger volume of air.

How does this impact NextGen?

We are looking to use science and studies where it makes sense. Our plan will be to spend more time on this research data and working internally on a program to implement.

To read the complete study, click here