Yoga for Happy Knees
The knees are required for movement and stability, so it’s not surprising that when knee pain strikes it can be frustrating and debilitating. The knees are often described as one of the strongest, largest and most complicated joints of the body. There are many causes for knee pain, such as muscular imbalances, poor posture, incorrect tracking, soft tissue damage and other conditions such as arthritis.
The Knee Joint
The knee is a hinge joint made up of the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), the smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia (fibula) and the kneecap (patella). Tendons connect the muscles to the bones and ligaments join the bones to provide stability. The fluid-filled sacs or bursae, help the knee move smoothly. The knee bears a lot of weight, it allows the lower leg to move forwards and backwards.
A common cause of knee pain is called “Patella Tracking Disorder”. The kneecap is designed to slide smoothly along a groove in the femur. Muscular imbalance, injuries, incorrect alignment and overuse can all cause the kneecap to go “off track” which causes further joint damage and severe pain.
Yoga for Healthy Knees
A mindful yoga practice can help maintain good alignment and strong, agile and healthy joints. In some cases yoga will provide effective preventative care.
If you are prone to knee pain here are a few considerations.
Avoid making deep knee bends of more than 90 degrees for example malasana (deep squat). Avoid postures that twist the knee joint such as padmasana (the lotus), ardha padmasana (half lotus) or eka pada rajakapotasana (one-legged king pigeon pose).
In all lunging and warrior poses make sure that the front knee remains over the ankle.
If kneeling is uncomfortable majaryasana (cat) should be avoided, an alternative would be to sit on your bottom with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart, lightly rest your hands on your knees and perform the same movements with your spine as you would in cat.
Any other postures that bring discomfort should be avoided.
If you suffer from joint pain practise restorative yoga regularly, it will help to remove habitual stress and tension from the body. In restorative yoga the body is supported with props to ensure that you do not move beyond your natural range of movement. As stress and tension are eliminated your range of movement improves and physical balance is restored.
Pain is a warning sign and should not be ignored. If you suffer from joint pain always seek medical advice.