The knee is wonderful simple machine, a coming together of bone, ligaments, cartilage, and muscle that can either make physical activity a joy or turn it into pure misery. The knee is also extremely sensitive to pressure when someone new is beginning a yoga routine. It’s important to make sure you are in a yoga for beginners class.
The knee is made up of three bones: the end of the femur (the thighbone), the patella (or kneecap) and the end of the tibia (or shinbone). Between the tibia and the femur are two pads of cartilage that cushion the area and act as shock absorbers. The bones and cartilage are all held together and aligned by two sets of ligaments called the cruciates and the collaterals that crisscross behind the kneecap and run alongside of the knee. The large muscles of the leg help to support the ligaments and keep everything in place.
One thing that leads to knee injuries is the fact that today’s activities and exercises are a bit beyond the scope of what the knee is designed to handle. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that in injury recovery as well as injury and disease prevention, the muscles that support the knee should be balanced. Yoga is particularly beneficial in doing this because it engages the leg muscles evenly and requires a focus on balance. This is particularly important in regards to yoga for beginners. Yoga also contributes to flexibility, which is not only important for the muscles, but is also important to keep your cartilage spongy and cushion-y.
Yoga: How Avoid Knee Injuries
As with all physical activity, there is a potential for injury, even with yoga, if you push too far and try to do more than what you’re able to do. There are several things you can do to protect yourself against damage to your knees.
First, you should avoid hyperextending your knees. This is sometimes easy to do in certain standing poses like the [Triangle Pose] and the [Extended Leg Forward Bend], as well as seated forward bend stretches. Try to keep a slight bend in the knee as you are executing these poses.
2. Use Props
Also, don’t be afraid to use props! Rolled up towels and yoga blocks can come in handy to prevent you from asking more of your knees than they are able to give. If you are in a yoga for beginners class, props should be mandatory.
Focus on balance and engaging the muscles equally. Many knee injuries are caused by an imbalance in muscle development that throws the ligaments and knee bones out of alignment. Regular yoga practice helps prevent this by working and strengthening all muscles equally.
Focus on proper technique. Remember that improper body alignment is the reason for many strains and injuries. Keeping your body and your knees properly aligned is key to getting the most benefits out of your yoga practice.
5. Listen To Your Body
Finally, listen to your body. Know when to push yourself, but also know when to pull back. Be aware that your knees don’t always tell you immediately when you’ve overdone it. A little discomfort is expected, but you should never continue if you’re experiencing pain. If it hurts, it’s time to stop or pull back. If you are in a yoga for beginners class, make sure your instructor is trained and aware of your newness to yoga.
Listen to your body. Know when to push yourself, but also know when to pull back. Be aware that your knees don’t always tell you immediately when you’ve overdone it.
If you are in the yoga for beginners category, take your time to develop your practice. This slow approach will accustom your knees to the added pressure of such poses as chair and warrior II.