Our knees are a salient feature of the body, but ones that carry great weight and importance. Knees are what attach our body to our legs so they support most of the weight of our upper body when we’re standing. Unfortunately, this causes easy and imminent wear and tear. However, we can always do some home remedies to keep the decay in check and live a healthier lifestyle.
One such way is through Yoga. Yoga has been a core characteristic of the mindful, healthy lifestyle one desires ever since its inception in India. More than just an “exercise”, yoga is a 5000 year old way of life that has proven results for improving mind, body and spirit. While there are many general beginner poses for your overall being, there are also specific poses you can do for targeted healing. There are many effective yoga poses one can practice daily to inhibit knee pain from wear and tear, injury or arthritis and give surprisingly quick pain relief.
What causes knee pain?
The knee is the largest joint in your body composed of bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. It is the connecting point to parts– the thighs, shins and kneecaps. Knee pain can be caused by undue stress put on any of these three compositions, or when one of the connecting points puts too much pressure. This can show up in the form of various problems like
- Tendonitis: Where your tendons swell up and makes your knees feel sore. Usually happens after an injury.
- Osteoarthritis: Where one of or both your knees feels painful or stiff at times. It can be felt all around your knee or just a specific part after strenuous exercise.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome: Commonly affecting children and young adults, this is a disorder that causes pain in the back of your knees when you are running, jumping, going up and down the stairs etc.
- Misalignment of knee caps: If you have chronic pain in your knees or they tend to get spasms when you extend them, you might have dislocated your kneecaps. Another sign of this is when your knee tends to pop, crackle or snap when you move it.
The knee consists of two mechanisms, the outer thigh muscle which is most commonly used and the innermost quadriceps which is much weaker because of underuse. Because one of the quadriceps is stronger than the other, when we stand, the pull of the outer quadricep is stronger, thus misaligning our kneecaps and giving us pain. Thus if you want to ensure smooth functioning of knees, you need to exercise both the mechanisms to have equal strength. There are many Yoga Asanas you can do to attain this.
1. Virabhadrasana I and II (Warrior Poses)
Duration: Start with 30 seconds of 4 sets and work your way up.
Method: Spread your arms in a T-pose and widen your feet. Your foot needs to roughly align with the point where your wrists are. Now, keeping your torso straight, turn your left foot 30 degrees and your right leg 90 degrees out. Bend your knee slowly, making sure it does not go beyond your ankle and toes. Try to bring your thigh parallel to the floor so that your leg is perpendicular to the floor. Turn your head towards your right fingertips and look beyond them. This is warrior pose II. For the first iteration of this asana, bring your hands slowly above your head in a prayer formation and hold the position as you normally would.
A common mistake to be careful of is to make sure the knee is not turning left or right, and is sitting straight above your toes. This misalignment can easily worsen the situation if not paid attention to.
2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Duration: Start with 30 seconds of 2 sets and work your way up.
Method: Widen your stance considerably and turn your right foot out at a 90 degree angle. Your left foot needs to be parallel to the back ending line of the mat. Bend your right knee slowly to align your heel, knee and hip in a warrior pose. Press your right foot in firmly and gradually straighten your leg in a mindful way. When done properly, you will notice that your knee is impossible to lock in during the process. However, it is good to be careful about letting your knee go instantly, as it can hyperextend and hurt you. Now that your leg is straightened, bend your hip to the right, and use your right hand as a support (you can use a box or a big book to set it against). Rotate your upper body upwards by raising your left hand and turning your head up, towards your left fingertips. Make sure your hands align in a straight line so as to engage your core. Once you feel it engaged, take in a deep breath, hold for a few seconds and slowly release it. Repeat how many ever times possible.
3. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Duration: 3 minutes
Method: It may not seem like you’re doing much in this asana at first, but Tadasana, a form of standing asana from the Hastha variate, is a great way of improving your posture and removing excess pressure from your spine and knees. To do it, stand upright with your feet pressed together. As you stand, press your feet into the floor to distribute your weight evenly across all four points of them. Slowly engage your calf muscles and move upwards towards your thighs, tightening your abs and glutes. Straighten your spine, pull your shoulders up and down and lift your chin up. After a while, relax each of them gradually all the way down to your feet.
Vrkasana (Tree Pose)
Duration :3 minutes
Method: Another Hastha pose to ensure good muscle health. However, if your knees are inflamed or giving you excess pain, it’s best to avoid this asana until it gets better. Keep your feet slightly apart and slowly raise your hands to a prayer posture over your head. Face your left foot out and slowly raise it to a bending position where the back of your foot is flush against your thigh. Make sure your thigh is pointing west and your knee is turned sideways rather than pointing diagonally. The key to this asana is mindfulness. Just like the previous one, make sure your weight is distributed equally and starting at your feet, slowly engage your thighs muscles, knee muscles, glutes, hips, back and shoulders. Hold the tightened pose for a few minutes, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Then gradually relax each muscle one by one and exhale.
Yoga is a time tested method to improve one’s health, and is so effective that it has seeped into the global culture. There are many more asanas that directly target the knees, but it’s best to get a practiced yoga instructor for the complicated ones so as to make sure any misalignment does not cause serious harm. Notwithstanding that, yoga, meditation and ayurvedic medicine serve as spectacular complements to modern medicine. We urge you to try the combination for some frankly miraculous results.