Are you suffering from knee joint pain? Whether you’re a professional runner, a weekend warrior or confronting the effects of lack of exercise from our sedentary lifestyle — either you, or somebody you know has probably suffered from knee pain.
Knee pain and joint issues can be a severe condition. Weak quads, hamstrings or a chronic condition like arthritis can contribute to knee pain. Sitting at the desk all day can create imbalances in the body by weakening the gluteal muscles. It is extremely important to strengthen your legs, core and muscles that you may not think about so often.
Knee pain should never be ignored or taken lightly. But the good news is, many different stretches, exercises and yoga poses can help to alleviate your knee pain.
Here are some exercises and yoga asanas to stabilise, stretch the knees, and strengthen the muscles around the knee joints — particularly in the quadriceps, hamstrings and abductors. Several studies show that doing these exercises five days a week, twice a day for five weeks have significantly decreased pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
However, please always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program to determine if it is right for your unique needs.
ROLLED UP TOWEL LEG EXTENSION
Place the rolled-up towel underneath your knee. Contract with your quads. Lift the leg up off the ground, flex the toes and press the back of the knee into the towel. You can also do this with a foam roller to give you more elevation. Hold for five seconds and relax. Repeat for 10 times and switch to the opposite leg.
STRAIGHT LEG RAISE
Lie down flat on the mat. Lift the left leg about 10cm or 30 degree off the ground. Flex your foot and contract your quad. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat for 10 times and switch to the other side.
Hip adduction exercise to strengthen the inner thigh muscles. Lie down on the mat. Isometric contraction. Squeeze in the yoga block. Holding the squeeze for five to 10 seconds then relax. Repeat for 10 times.
This pose strengthens your glutes, hamstrings and quads as well as opening the hip flexors. Lie flat on the ground. Feet hip-distance apart. Place a yoga block in between your upper and inner thighs. Activate the inner core, press your feet into the ground as you slowly lift your hips up and form a nice line between knees, hips and shoulders. Engage your glutes to protect your lower back. Continue to squeeze the block. Hold for 5-10 seconds. For an added challenge, lift one leg up and flex the toes to add to the contraction.
MOUNTAIN AND CHAIR POSE VARIATION
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a block between your upper inner thighs. Draw your navel to your spine. Roll your shoulders back as you face your palms forward. Keep squeezing the block. Hold for 10-15 breaths. Transition into the Chair Pose. Bend your knees and shift your hips back and down. Keep knees stacked over shins and weight back in the heels. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat this sequence 3-5 times and keep squeezing the block.
WARRIOR I AND WARRIOR II VARIATION
Start in Tadasana. Step your left leg back at least three feet apart in 45-60 degrees. Bend you right knee until it is directly over your right ankle. Press the edge of the back foot down. Square the hips as much as possible. Engage the core, lengthen the spine. Raise your arms overhead. Keep your biceps near your ears, your palms facing one another. This is Warrior I. Hold for 10 breaths. Transition into Warrior II. Extend your arms out wide, parallel to the ground, palms face down. Gaze to the fingertips of your right hand. You’ll strengthen the outer gluteal muscles, inner thighs and quadriceps as you hold the pose for five to 10 breaths. Inhale to straighten your front leg and release the posture. Repeat on the other side.
BOUND ANGLE / COBBLER’S POSE
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together. Stay for 10 breaths.
— Nerry Toledo is a Dubai-based yoga instructor. She conducts regular give-what-you-can community classes with the goal of making yoga more accessible for everyone. For schedules and locations, go to www.nerryfit.com