Particularly Dropknee made climbing overhangs a lot smoother and less wasteful of energy. Although often underrated and underused, the dropknee remains one of the most effective techniques. Our goal today is to share with you my findings about the climbing technique known as the ‘Dropknee’ (also known as the ‘Egyptian’), so that you too can have your epiphany!
What exactly is a ‘dropknee’? The technique involves dropping either your knees inwardly, then turning your hip (that’s on the same side as you dropped the knee) towards the wall, to create tension between your two footholds so you can gain access to the next one.
With a dropknee move properly executed, you’ll create enough tension between your feet to allow you to reach for the next hold, which you’ll always reach for with the hand that’s parallel to the leg that’s being dropped and the hip that’s turned in.
However, there are other things to consider when it comes to the drop knee. Getting the footholds in the right position is extremely important to do the drop knee safely and effectively. Knowing how to deal with high footholds and avoiding injuries are other crucial aspects when doing the drop knee.
Dropknees are a great addition to a climber’s repertoire for several reasons
Learning dropknee is one of the best ways to advance in your climbing career. You want to master this technique for three major reasons.
- Expand your horizons
Your first and foremost reason for using the dropknee technique is that it allows you to reach holds that are farther away than you normally could. When you move your knee hip and shoulder close to the wall you are bringing one side of your body closer to the wall. You become bigger because you minimize the angle between your hand, hips, and feet.
- Stabilize yourself
In order to set up your next move, you need to get into a very stable position. The tension you create locks you in place because of the tension you create.
- Conserve energy
When you build outward tension between your feet, you’ll not only relieve your arms of some weight, you’ll also be able to hang from extended arms for as long as possible before grabbing the next hold. When compared to bent arms, hanging from extended arms saves a great deal of energy.
Utilizing the Dropknee involves certain risks
Dropknees are among the most injury sensitive climbing techniques you’ll come across. When you are not properly warmed up, never use it. Injuries that can be caused by the dropknee include:
- Knee strain. A minor stretch of one of your knee ligaments. After a couple of days, it should heal.
- ‘Unhappy Triad’ injuries affect the meniscus and knee ligaments. They can leave you incapacitated for a long time. You should avoid problems with your meniscus in particular.
- A dislocated knee. When you dropknee and follow it up with a very dynamic move or when you lose your balance and fall awkwardly, this can happen.
If you were guaranteed to get these kinds of injuries, the dropknee move wouldn’t be used. Injury can certainly be avoided altogether. It is nevertheless important to acknowledge the risks involved and to take the necessary precautions.
Step-by-step instructions on how to Dropknee
Let’s take a look at how to perform the dropknee properly.
We have outlined all the steps below.
Also, the video above is extremely helpful for explaining and showing it, so you might want to watch it first.
1. The starting position
Dropknees should be performed with four points of contact, that is, with both hands and feet on holds.
2. Place your foot correctly
Be sure you have enough space between your toes and the wall so that you can rotate your foot without getting stuck. The ideal point of contact will vary from hold to hold, but is usually close to your big toe and ball of your foot.
3. Rotate your feet
Make sure one of your feet is pointing parallel to the wall so that it is pointing in the direction of the centre of your body.
4. Pull your hips in and point your knee down
Bend your knee so that it is in a straight line between your two feet, wherever they are located. Sometimes you may even be able to squat lower, but don’t put too much strain on your ligaments.
Pull your hips closer to the wall while turning your knee downward in one smooth motion. The hip nearest the wall should be closest to the bent knee hip.
5. Bring your opposite hand towards you for additional reach
If you want to save energy in some cases and skip this step, you may do so. The distance towards the next hold determines what happens. To gain momentum for the next hold, you’ll want to begin pulling the remaining hand that is still on the hold.
Take away one thing from this article: Don’t start pulling before your knee has dropped. Hold your arms out until then!
6. With the right hand, grab the next hold
Last but not least, reach out for the next hold and grab it. It’s that easy!
It is now possible to place your hips parallel to the wall’s face once again. As soon as you can, you should move onto the next dropknee, thereby reestablishing a hip-to-wall angle.
When you do the drop knee, your hips are no longer parallel to the wall. You can allow the arm that is holding onto a hold to remain as extended as possible by twisting your hips as you reach for the next hold. In the long run, this saves a lot of energy.
When using a dropknee, use a high foothold
Your elbow can actually block you from rotating your knee down when a hold is really high. In addition, pull off a dropknee when the footholds are relatively high requires you to be more flexible.
Too high footholds put you at risk of not being able to lock in your knee properly. If the tension is not right, the foothold can shoot off.
Make sure you finish the move completely before moving onto the next hold. A dropknee that isn’t perfect may actually be better than playing it safe and climbing to the next hold in a less efficient manner.
These are some common mistakes with dropknees
- We are not committing. Not fully committing will result in insufficient pressure between your two legs, which will render many of the benefits of the dropknee ineffective. Build up the pressure you need by going deeper!
- Rather than twisting into the dropknee, place the foot in the dropped position right from the start. This makes the move unnecessarily difficult. Occasionally, you may need to place your foot like this, but in most cases you can simply start the dropknee from a normal position with your hips parallel to the wall. From there, twist it.
- It’s reaching out with the wrong hand after a dropknee has been inserted. Due to this, your position becomes unstable and you may start to pull away from the wall.
Applying the Dropknee method to an overhang
Especially for beginners, it is not uncommon to find yourself dangling freely from your arms, without using your feet as anchors, when it comes to overhangs.
In any case, climbing beginners quickly learn to keep their hips closer to the wall as they ascend.
You must have strong core muscles to balance on overhangs, since gravity constantly pulls your back away from the wall.
Dropknees have the advantage of making it easy to keep your hips close to the wall. Due to the tension built up between your two feet, pressing your hip to the wall requires less core strength.
It’s quite possible to maintain this tension while you lunge for the next hold. Once you master this technique, it will be easier to not lose your footing all the time when climbing overhangs.
Using the dropknee will encourage you to utilize the wall more efficiently, instead of campussing like a calisthenics enthusiast without climbing experience would. Even if you’re less strong, you’ll be able to stick to the wall longer!
Before using a dropknee, you should warm up
Warm up properly before trying dropknees.
Your meniscus will be less likely to be injured if your joint capsule is warmed up.
We recommend that you warm up by using the skipping rope, doing squats, and stretching. After fully warming up, climbers begin dropping on their knees to ensure I don’t damage my knee. Climbing consistently is what we are interested in, after all. To know more about different type of rock climbing technique, check out this article.