February 06, 2023
Yoga and the Knees
Joint pain is common. There are some postures and practices that aggravate a tender area. If you experience pain during a yoga practise. That pain should not be ignored. Yoga practices and postures should be relaxed so that the body is not moved into discomfort. Yoga should enhance health and wellbeing.
With that being said this brings me to a common area of discomfort - the knees. So many people experience knee pain, there can be so many causes from over use to poor alignment. So what can we do during a yoga practise to look after the knees? If we were to flick through a yoga text book we would notice that there are many postures that are performed kneeling, or sitting cross legged, or lunging, or weight bearing where the knees could be challenged.
To look after the knees it is imperative that at first we avoid postures that create discomfort to the area and that we include postures or practices that will strengthen the muscles to maintain the stability of this joint. In addition strengthening the core muscles will improve over all alignment and strength. If we stand tall and draw up the lower abdominal muscles and pull the navel back towards the spine we instantly feel that the torso is lifted away from the hips, then there less weight moving through the lower body. Core strength assists and enhances movement and alignment beyond the torso region of the body.
Another point to add is that at no time do the legs need to be forced straight, especially if this brings discomfort to the knees. Allow the knees to soften if required. Make sure the knees are never bent to an angle of less than 90 degrees and the directional movement of the knee should naturally follow the line of the foot.
Postures to Avoid
Cat (majaryasana) - replace this by sitting on the bottom with the knees bent, the soles of the feet on the ground and the feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. It is then possible to rest the hands to the knees and move between a curved spine with the chin on the chest and a straight spine.
Pose of the Child (balasana) - replace this with the wind relieving pose -apanasana.
Thunderbolt (vajrasana) - replace this with lying semi supine (lie on the back with the knees bent and soles of the feet on the ground).
Make sure that the knees are over the ankle in all lunging and warrior postures. Make sure that the knee follows the alignment of the foot (it is not to roll forwards or backwards). Never bend the knees to angles smaller than 90 degrees if you suffer from knee pain.
Heel rises are a great way to strengthen all of the leg muscles. So too is lying on your back in apanasana with the arms alongside the body then extend alternate heels to the ceiling. Boat - navasana with one leg at a time will also help, so will all standing balances.
Take time to strengthen the muscles of the core as they assist with stability, alignment and support the whole body.
Remember to listen to your body and relax if you experience discomfort.
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