Hello again everyone! Welcome once again to my EDTC300 Learning Project blog 🙂 ! This week I decided to shift the focus to a certain part of my body, the knees. I have had intermittent knee problems since I was a teenager, likely due to playing sports like basketball since I was a child. My knee pain has been ramping up lately due to being on my feet all day at work, so I thought I would see how I might address this issue in my yoga practice.
What Hurts and Why?
Knee pain is quite common and has a wide range of potential causes. These cause include injury, arthritis, mechanical problems, and lack of muscle strength/flexibility. Luckily for me I have experienced the exact issue I am dealing with before and had it diagnosed by a professional. My knee pain stems from two root causes:
- Mechanical Problems: Issues with biomechanics of the lower leg on my right side is something that I have had to deal with. Due to my severe ankle injury and subsequent surgery, my ankle and foot do not operate correctly (pronation of the foot, external tibial torsion) which results in improper gait and increased stress on the knee. Improper biomechanics of the leg also contribute to IT band issues, which is a cause of knee pain as well.
2. Patellofemoral syndrome: Patellofemoral syndrome, also knows as ‘runners knee’ or ‘jumpers knee’, is characterized by pain in the anterior portion of the knee (generally behind and around the knee cap). This issue is linked to overuse, overtraining, previous injury, or improper use of exercise equipment. In my case, it comes down to overuse aggravating previous injuries.
Yoga Can Help (If Done Right!)
Though I have always been cognizant of the importance of good form in yoga, I decided to do some research on how to avoid causing or exacerbating knee pain through incorrect practice. A number of resources, including this blog post from Gaiam and this article from beYogi, outline poses that present potential for causing knee pain and provide the reader with clear instruction on how to best avoid the mistakes that lead to this pain.
After reading these articles and reviewing video footage of myself, I was made aware of a couple of mistakes that I was making with some common standing poses:
Incorrect Placement of Foot in High Lunge: The high lunge serves as the starting point for a number of standing poses, so if performed incorrectly it causes issues with subsequent poses. You can see my mistake in the included picture. My foot is pretty much centered between my hands, when it should be shifted towards the hand on the same side (in this case the right).
Misaligned Warrior Poses: Building off of the issue with my high lunge, my alignment in the warrior poses was all wrong. Where my front foot should be off center from the back foot, I have been performing these poses with both feet nearly aligned with one another. The attached image illustrates the issue: my foot, knee, and hip center of the front leg should be in the same plane, but instead I am putting strain on my knee and hip due to the incorrect placement of my front foot.
Knee Hyperextenstion in Triangle Pose: The triangle pose often immediately follows or precedes the warrior poses in practice. My issue with this pose is that I have been locking out my front knee, where I should have been keeping a micro-bend in it in order to avoid hyperextending the knee joint.
Yoga for Knee Pain
I tried a few different resources that focuses on modifying yoga for relief and prevention of knee pain. One resource in particular was most effective for me, likely because the series of poses and movements were geared towards helping with patellofemoral pain syndrome. I found the video on a YouTube channel called ‘Yoga Prehab with Tristan Gatto‘. This series of poses and dynamic movements focuses on stretching and strengthening the legs, with an emphasis on countering muscle imbalances that contribute to improper tracking of the patellar tendon. The instructor Tristan seems to be quite knowledgeable and he has a great vibe, which made following along with the video quite nice. I will definitely check out more of his channel in the coming weeks. I have embedded the video below.
I also added some great stretches and poses I found in an article on ‘YogiApproved.com‘ entitled “Practice These 10 Yoga Poses to Relieve Knee Pain“. This post contained some great stretches and foam rolling exercises that target the muscles of the legs and the IT bands, as well as a number of poses that help relieve and prevent knee pain. Below I have included some images of me performing a few of these poses along with descriptions:
- Half Lord of Fishes Pose: The Half Lord of Fishes pose can help to relieve knee pain by stretching the knee abductors (outer hips), which when tight can lead to improper biomechanical function and pain in the knee. This pose can also help to relieve discomfort from sciatica for those who suffer from it.
- Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe + Cross-Body Stretch: This stretch requires any kind of band (exercise band, yoga band), or even a bed sheet/towel if you don’t have a band. The reclined hand-to-big-toe stretch targets the hamstrings and hip flexors, and when the leg is drawn across the body at the peak of this stretch it targets the IT band.
- King Arthur’s Pose: This is a variation on one of the poses performed in the YouTube video embedded above, one where the band/sheet used in the video is not required. This pose really stretches the quadriceps, but it is important to be careful in order to avoid pushing it too far and causing an injury or aggravating an existing issue.
I am happy to report that the corrections I have made to my poses, coupled with the addition of practice focused on relieving and preventing knee pain, have been effective. My knee pain is greatly reduced even after only one week, which is quite impressive! After seeing evidence of my imperfections in my video recordings I have decided to continue recording my sessions after the completion of this course. I think that this is the best way to identify and correct any issues I have since I don’t have an instructor to guide me.
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