Knee pain is the second most common cause of chronic pain, often caused by conditions like arthritis or injuries like torn ligaments. It can be debilitating and often means that people feel unable to do exercise. Yoga, a series of stretches, poses and breathing, which was developed in India thousands of years ago, can often seem particularly daunting to anyone suffering from chronic pain. But if you change your practice to suit your body, you can still do as much yoga as you wish. Talking about your knee pain to your yoga instructor can help you understand how to comfortably modify poses.
Here are a few favourite yoga poses for knee pain. These yoga positions improve the wellness of most people and will feel particularly good to anyone suffering from knee pain. Just remember that using supports is a great idea. Don’t push yourself, and remember to do only what feels healthy and good. Contracting the muscles around your knees as you practice will help you strengthen them.
You might think that mountain pose doesn’t entail anything except standing still, but it can help your body’s alignment. Learning to do mountain pose correctly will be useful in all areas of your life and make you considerably more comfortable, along with warding off further knee problems and pain. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and make sure that all four corners of your feet are pressed equally into the mat so that your weight is evenly distributed. Engage your leg muscles and make sure that your spine is straight; hold your head over your heart and push your shoulders down and back. Engage your quads and inner thighs while tucking your tailbone in and relaxing the muscles in your face. Inhale and exhale deeply eight times, making sure that your body stays aligned.
In order to do bridge pose, slowly lower yourself to the ground and spread out on your yoga mat, facing upwards. Make sure that your back is supported by the ground and move your shoulder blades beneath you so that your chest is open and you can feel your pectoral muscles working a little. Breathe in and out deeply before bending your knees and planting your feet firmly on the ground, at the same width as your hips and shoulders. Press into your entire foot and put your arms down at your sides, your palms pushing against your yoga mat. Then lift your hips off your mat, squeezing your glutes as you rest on just your shoulders. This will strengthen your hamstrings without putting too much strain on your knees.
Half Moon Pose
Make sure that you have a block for support, or maybe a small stack of books, and ensure also that you’re leaning against the wall. This pose will stretch your hamstrings and strengthen your legs. Stand with your back against the wall and separate your feet, with your right foot pointing towards the front of your mat. Lift your left leg off the floor so that it’s parallel to the ground – or however high feels comfortable – and use the wall and the block or pile of books for support as you stretch forward with your right hand. Inhale and exhale three times before gently moving back into a standing position and shifting so that you’re balancing on your left foot. Make sure that you press your standing foot firmly into the mat so that you’re balanced calmly.
A great way to strengthen your knees is through chair pose. Stand with your feet and legs together, or with your feet separated – whatever feels better to you. Lift your chest and make sure that you breathe deeply. Resting your weight on your heels, sit back as if you’re sitting on a chair, and lift your arms. This will tone your legs and strengthen your core, while your weight is balanced in your hips rather than your knees. If you want extra support, lean your back against a wall.
Yoga is all about experimenting to find what makes you feel good in both your body and your mind. If you feel knee pain that goes further than a gentle stretch, it’s time to stop. (If you have health challenges, consult with your health advisor before starting a new activity.) Enjoy experimenting with these yoga poses for knee pain as you strengthen and protect your knees. You can practice these yoga poses at home, or you can learn about them and other poses in one of our yoga classes.