At some point, most outdoor enthusiasts experience knee pain. In anatomy, the knee is a stable joint, with minimal range of motion. In outdoor pursuits, the knee is susceptible to pain mainly due to “ground reaction forces” (when a runner strikes his foot, or a hiker treks down slope, forces are transferred up the leg and “shock” the joint). Working your knees like this over time and without maintenance leads to chronic pain. Yoga strengthens and lengthens the tissues and muscles that connect the knee to the ankle and hip. Below are yoga poses that reduce knee pain. Hold each position for 30-60 seconds.
Purpose: Strengthens leg muscles
How to Perform: Stand with legs three to four feet apart. Turn your right foot forward and kick your left heel out slightly so the foot faces “inward.” Inhale, raise arms to shoulder height and exhale bend your right knee toward a 90-degree angle. Repeat on the opposite side.
Standing Forward Bend Straddle
Purpose: Lengthens the Posterior Chain (gluteal, hamstring and calf) muscles
How to Perform: Stand with legs three to four feet apart. Keep toes forward. Inhale, raise arms overhead. Exhale, fold forward to reach the hands toward the floor. If the hands do not touch, place hands on a yoga block or on your legs. Hold the position and keep breath flowing into the lungs.
Purpose: Strengthens leg muscles while opening hips and inner thighs.
How to Perform: Stand with legs three to four feet apart. Turn your right foot forward and kick your left heel out slightly so the foot faces inward. Inhale, raise arms to shoulder height and exhale place the hands on the shin, foot or floor. Raise the left arm over the chest and shoulder. Hold and repeat on the opposite side.
Purpose: Challenges balance, which stabilizes inner and outer thigh muscles while opening the quadriceps and hip flexor muscles of the opposing leg.
How to Perform: Stand tall with feel hip distance apart. Grab the inside right foot near the inner-arch. Slowly hinge from the hip, lift the left arm up and push the right foot upward to open and lengthen the leg, shoulder and chest.
Supine Hand to Foot Pose
Purpose: Deeply lengthens posterior chain muscles
How to Perform: Lie on your back and with a yoga strap or towel place the rope over the right ball of the foot. Keep the left leg flat on the floor. Reach the right foot up toward the ceiling with the leg over the hip, or to a point where a stretch is felt. Hold and repeat on the opposite leg.
Supine Pigeon Pose
Purpose: Opens hip external rotators
How to Perform: Lie on your back with feet flat on the ground. Cross the right ankle over the left thigh. Lift the left knee to 90-degrees and hold the left hamstrings with your left hand and apply slight pressure on the right inner thigh with the right hand. Hold and repeat on the opposite leg.