Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Drill to Skill: Quadruped Hip Extension on Elbows


Quadruped hip extension (aka, Donkey kicks) is a fairly simple yet versatile drill that can aid the transition from ground based movements into upright gait.  Below we’ll address concepts behind this exercise and how it can be used most effectively to bridge the gap between rudimentary movement and the advanced skill of running.

*Anchoring elbows makes compensatory breathing patterns more difficult.  Breathing from this position is a valuable breathing exercise and assessment. 

*You can perform this move on all fours in traditional quadruped, but resting on the elbows does make cheating harder.

*Complements the plank nicely to integrate core stability with hip extension. 

*Maintaining a constant knee angle and neutral low back ensures that extension comes via the hips.  Back does not need to remain perfectly flat if a pronounced natural curve exists (though this may require separate interventions if it is causing problems), but the low back angle should not change. 

*Stability complement to the Thomas test and straight leg raise.  If someone demonstrates adequate mobility in those assessments but lacks extension in the quadruped pattern, this may indicate a stability issue. 

*Likewise, if someone lacks hip extension in upright gait, this drill can help identify the source of the deficit.  Lack of extension in gait but normal extension in quadruped may indicate a balance or timing deficit while upright.

*One of the first semi-upright supported positions for the infant as it progresses on its way to less supportive postures.  Move up to advanced postures too early and cheating will occur.  In this basic posture, athlete is given a chance to succeed with optimal core firing and posture. 

*Able to assess unilateral mobility and stability

*Regressions include supine exercise postures, such as the Thomas test and active straight leg raise corrections.  You may also include rolling in here for very primitive hip extension.

*Progressions include any kneeling postures, standing with wall support, and all forms of upright locomtion.  Check for proficiency in basic postures before making corrections to advanced postures.

*Upper body assessments: scapular retraction, packed neck, non-rounded upper back.

*One variation: add neck rotations to ensure lateral neck structures aren’t holding the body up! 

*Another variation: perturbations.  Have a partner push from different angles and try to maintain balance. 

*Sport specific?  Aerobar position for cyclists/triathletes, although this is not the primary focus on of the move. 

*Also note back foot position.  Leaning into back toes can help engage posterior chain.  This forms the basis for push off during normal gait. 

*Can assess for movement out of sagittal plane.  Note if the leg goes out to the side or if body sways. 

Related posts

Drill to Skill: Wall Supported Side Leg Swings

Quadruped Running Drills Part I: Troubleshooting

Quadruped Running Drills Part II: Corrections

Quadruped Running Drills Part III: (More) Corrections


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