When it comes to finding knee pain relief, a commonly recommended treatment is to develop strength in the legs, hips, and glutes, which results in stronger knees and less pain. The great news is that heading to the gym isn’t the only way to build muscle—yoga has been around for thousands of years, but only in the last few decades has it become a mainstream conditioning and therapy option. According to a 2013 study by the University of Isfahan, just 8 weeks of yoga can significantly decrease pain and symptoms of osteoarthritis. How does the knee benefit from yoga, and what are some effective poses for stronger knees?
Yoga and Your Knees
The knee joint is one of the largest on your body and is comprised of the thigh bone, shin bone, kneecap, and a web of ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues. Muscle weakness in the legs can lead to instability in the joint, but for correct alignment and mechanical function, it needs to stay aligned and tight. While yoga is typically thought of as a way to stretch the body, you do NOT want to stretch the knees, but instead strengthen the muscles around them. What are some poses that are effective for finding knee pain relief?
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Chair Pose looks like a modified squat, in that you engage the quadriceps in the front of the thighs, the hamstrings in the back, the inner thigh muscles, and also the gluteal muscles to carefully sink your seat as if you’re sitting on a chair. Stabilize the upper body by pulling the navel in toward the spine, and modify the depth of your “seat” so you’re not causing pain in the knees. Hold this for several breaths and rise, repeat 4-5 times.
Tree Pose (Vrkasana)
Tree Pose is a simple balancing pose that can help you develop stronger knees, but you should avoid putting all of your weight on just one leg if the knee joint is currently inflamed. After standing evenly on both feet, shift your weight to the left foot, and engage the muscles in the left leg and the abdomen to stabilize. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the inside of the right calf muscle or the inside of the right thigh—be sure NOT to rest it on the actual knee joint—then move the raised knee toward the right to open the thigh. If you feel unstable, bring the right toes back down to the floor and “kickstand” them against the right ankle. Hold for several breaths and repeat on the other side.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Triangle Pose serves to address a muscular imbalance in the inner and outer thigh muscles that can be a source of knee pain and injury. To use triangle pose to strengthen the inner thigh muscles and for stronger knees, stand at the front of your mat, feet hip-width apart. Step the right foot back so you have a wide stance, and turn the right toes away from the midline so that the foot is parallel with the back of the mat. Square your hips and torso to the long side of the map, but be sure to keep your right ankle, knee, and hip in a straight line. Lift your arms out to the sides, and reach the left arm forward, allowing the upper body to pivot over the left leg at the hip crease. Engage the muscles in the left thigh, and without locking the knee, reach the left hand down to rest at the shin or on a yoga block, and reach the right arm straight up. Keep the abdominal and thigh muscles engaged for stability. Hold for a few breaths, rise, and repeat on the other side.
In Need of Knee Pain Relief?
At Envista Medical, we use an integrative medical approach to maintain a bold philosophy: Surgery isn’t always the answer for knee pain relief. With our caring, highly trained team of professionals and holistic, minimally invasive treatment methods, our goal is to help you live a pain-free life. Call us today to learn more about which treatments will work for you!