Monday, September 13, 2010

Knee Care

Maintaining healthy knees is so important for those of us with an active lifestyle. Knee pain and knee injuries are quite common and can take us away from the activities that we enjoy. The knee was designed for forward and backward motion so it is easy to understand how imjuries can occur when knees are torqued or twisted. Yoga is a great way to strengthen and create suppleness in the knee joint. Yoga provides a nice approach because it allows you to also strengthen and support the areas of the body that can cause knee pain. Weak ankles puts more compression on the knees. Standing poses in yoga can help with strenthening the ankles. Focus on lifting the inner arches of the foot and pressing the outer edges of the feet into the mat. Tight hips and glutes can also lead to knee pain and ankle instability. Our hip muscles stabilize us as we walk so tightness here can affect even the most basic activity. Tight hips and glutes can also cause the knee to rotate inward during lunges. Focus on tracking the knee right over the ankle in lunge positions.

Here are some great poses to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the hips, glutes and ankles so that you can keep your knees healthy!

1. Viraana (Hero Pose): Keep your feet parallel to one another and right up against your outer hips.
2. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side angle pose): Press the outer edge of your back foot down firmly, lift the inner arches of both feet and keep your front knee aligned with your ankle.
3. Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose): Lift the inner arches of both feet, lift your inner knee and knee cap.
4. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose): Lift the knee cap of your standing leg and activate the arches of both feet. For help with balance use a block under your hand or press your back heel against a wall.
5. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose): Use a block under your hips and ensure your hips are neutral. Press the top of the back foot into the mat to align the back knee.
6. Viparita Karani (legs on the wall pose): To align knees, you can use a strap around your thighs.

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