Whether you’ve had an injury or you’re beginning to show symptoms of age-related arthritis, knee pain can really slow you down. Sometimes, it’s simply because you use your knees so much that they beg for rest. But most of the time, it’s because as you get older, these joints can stiffen and ache, especially if you’re not getting enough exercise.
Most minor knee pain responds well to a little TLC. While severe pain can signal a condition that requires medical intervention, it’s rare without a triggering incident. More often, your Three Minute Egg yoga blocks and targeted yoga postures aimed at relieving minor knee pain can provide long-lasting relief.
The Role of Exercise
Exercise is vital to good health, even if you have weak knees. Strong quads and hamstring muscles support your knees, and they’re way more effective when they’re conditioned. Stretching is also beneficial; it alleviates knee pain caused by muscles that are too tight. So consider an exercise program that builds strength, flexibility, balance and stability. Yoga fits that profile.
Chronic knee pain and osteoarthritis call for drastic changes in your lifestyle. All the yoga Eggs in the world (thousands and thousands of them now) won’t help if you can’t lose that extra weight. If you’re a runner or practice other high-impact exercises, it may be time to get acquainted with more low-impact activities — like yoga.
Isometric Exercise for the Quadriceps
Support your knees with isometrics while in Dandasana or Staff Pose. Sit on the ground with your back comfortably resting against a wall or other supportive surface. It is often helpful to elevate the hips by sitting on 2 Three Minute Eggs on their flat side in a “V” shape. Extend your legs and place 1 yoga Egg under each knee to provide support and prevent hyperextension and tissue strain. The picture to the right, while not exactly Dandasana, demonstrates how to use yoga Eggs in a seated position.
From Staff Pose, bring one leg out at a slight angle (at about one o’clock) and then contract your thigh muscles in order to straighten your leg at the knee joint. You should be able to feel the quads engage by placing your finger about an inch and half above your kneecap on the center of your thigh. Hold the contraction for 8 to 10 seconds and release. Repeat two more times and then switch to the other leg. Do this exercise several times a day to strengthen your inner quads and relieve knee pain.
Asanas for Your Knees
- Warrior Poses strengthen your outer quadriceps. Make sure you’re in proper alignment, however, to avoid injury or strain to your knees. Generally, this means that the bent knee does not track too far past the ankle while in the pose and you should not feel pressure or pain at the inner or outer knee. Press into both feet and engage your thigh muscles. Avoid sinking into the knees. A dynamic, or moving Warrior sequence as practiced in the Viniyoga tradition can help you learn to move your knees in a healthy way.
- Nourish your knees (and your entire body) with a steady breath while holding Tadasana, or Mountain Pose. This is a great pose to help refine your posture and body awareness. Practice Tadasana to notice and correct unhealthy patterns.
- Triangle Pose helps you gain balance and stability, while stretching the legs and strengthening the hips.
- Stretch your legs, back, and hips with a Reclining Twist with bent knees. This stretch will help free up the knees for strength training and re-patterning. Place a yoga Egg in between your knees for more awareness and support while in the pose (this is also helpful for back and hips). You can also place a Three Minute Egg beneath your head as needed.
- If the inner thighs are an issue Bound Angle Pose can help stretch these muscles and Chair Pose practiced while actively holding a yoga Egg in between the knees can help to strengthen inner thighs.
Even researchers at esteemed Duke University point to the various knee-focused yoga poses as effective therapy for many knee conditions that cause discomfort. Yoga poses work because they:
- Increase circulation
- Reduce inflammation by eliminating harmful toxins in your body
- Build strength to support your knees and reduce pain
- Help you develop flexibility
- Promote healing
If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also like our post about Yoga and Arthritis.