Safety in yoga: working with the knees
When practicing yoga, knee joints are without a doubt the most vulnerable point. Now it is difficult to find a person practicing yoga, and who never had problems with his knees. Let’s try to understand why this is happening and how to avoid it.
Anatomy of the knee joint
In the knee joint, two types of movements are possible: flexion-extension and rotation, very insignificant in amplitude. Strong rotation in the knee joint, especially in combination with the axial load, is extremely traumatic for the knee joint.
The practice of various groups of asanas in the light of biomechanics of the knee joint
Sitting (meditative) asanas
Padmasana (lotus pose) and its various variations are perhaps the main cause of knee joint injuries in yoga.
Do not try to do Padmasana if your hip joints are not sufficiently mobile. A good indicator is if you are able to perform baddha konasana ( Fig. 4 ) with knees completely lying on the floor.
If, in the performance of padmasana, the knee of the upper leg does not lie on the floor, it is also a sign that it is premature to perform the lotus position.
However, even in the case of mobile hip joints, it is highly unlikely that padmasana will not be injurious to the knees. On Figure 2 clearly shows that even in the case of faultless performance padmasana knees experience significant side load.
Where it is safer for the knees to perform siddhasana ( Fig . 3 ). This pose is no less suitable for performing respiratory and meditative practices, and even better, because it is more convenient for the vast majority of practitioners. Therefore (unless you are a Hindu who has hypermobile joints and thin hips, used to sitting in a lotus position since childhood), I strongly recommend in your practice to replace the lotus position with siddhasana.When performing any sitting poses with the knees apart, it is unacceptable that the knees should be above the level of the pelvis. If the hip joints are not yet sufficiently mobile, it is necessary to use a pillow or a folded blanket to raise the pelvis and lower the knees ( Fig . 4 ). If you intend to sit in a pose for a long time or already have some problems with your knees – your knees should also not hang, but lie on the support.
Fig.4. Buddha konasana
Another leg traumatic for the knees is a virassana. In this position, the knees experience the same lateral load as in the padmasana – they just bend outward, not inward. If you experience any discomfort in your knees during or after the virassana, you must use a pillow when doing this position, putting it under the basin ( Fig. 5 ). You should also use a pillow if your pelvis does not reach the floor when it is performed, or if the sacrum deviates back: both are indicative of insufficient mobility of the knees.
Despite the fact that the use of standing asanas for strengthening the knees is universally affirmed, this is one of the most traumatic groups of asanas. Let’s analyze the most common mistakes in the practice of standing poses.
Turning the stop
As already mentioned above, rotation in the knee joint is extremely dangerous. To avoid the rotational moment in the knee, one must remember a simple rule: the thigh, knee and foot are deployed in one direction .
Most of the standing poses can be divided into 2 groups for simplicity:
– “straight” – those in which the legs, pelvis and shoulders remain in the same plane. The body remains vertical or tilts sideways. This group includes utthita trikonasana, utthita parsvakonasana, virrabhadrasana 2 ( Figure 7 )
– “inverted” – those in which the shoulders are rotated relative to the plane of the legs by 90 ° -180 °. The body is located vertically (virbhadrasana 1, figure 10 ), tilts forward (parshvottanasana) or twists (parikvrta trikonasana and parivritta parsvakonasana, Figures 8 and 9 )
In these two groups of poses, the initial setting of the stops is fundamentally different. In the “straight” standing postures, the foot of the front leg is deployed 90 ° outward, just like the front thigh. The foot of the hind leg is turned inwards to the same angle as the hind femur, i.e. approximately 0 ° -45 ° depending on the individual characteristics. Usually with this group there are no problems in setting the stop.
In “inverted” standing poses of complexities there is much more. In these poses it is inadmissible to use the same initial position as in the “straight” standing ones. Otherwise, when turning the pelvis in the knee, there will be a rotational moment.
In these poses, the feet should be planted not in the sides, but back and forth (in the position of a wide step). The plane in which the pelvis is located is perpendicular to the plane of the legs, and both feet are parallel (or almost parallel) to each other. Thus, in poses a lunge such as parivritta parshvakonasana ( Fig. 9 ), virabhadrasana 1 ( Figure 10 ), a rear foot is advisable to put on the socks, not entirely to the floor.
Fig.8. Parivritta trikonasana
Fig.9. Parivrtta parsvakonasana
The position of the knee in poses with an attack
The second problem in standing poses is the incorrect position of the knee in the attack. In poses with an attack, such as utthit and parivritta parsvakonasana, virrabhadrasana 1 and 2, etc. It is important to:
– the knee was bent to an angle not less than 90 °
– the shin of the bent leg was strictly perpendicular to the floor, the knee did not “fall in” either inward or forward
– the back (straight) leg did not bend at the knee joint, the foot rested on the floor with the outer edge, and not internal ( Fig.11,12 )
Often people with good flexibility “hang” on a bent leg, bending it at an acute angle. This should not be done, both legs should be in good shape: Fig. 11 .
People with insufficient mobility of the hip joints may have difficulty turning the bent leg: when trying to make an igod, the knee is wrapped inwards ( Figure 12 ). In this case, the legs should be put closer to each other, and the front leg should be bent to an angle greater than 90 °, leaving the shin perpendicular to the floor ( Fig . 13 ).
Hypermobility of the knee joint
Hypermobility of the knee arises from the weakness of the ligaments and tendons that form and surround the knee joint. In this case, the leg in the knee joint is unbent at an angle exceeding 180 ° ( Fig . 14 ).Hypermobility can be innate or acquired as a result of improper practice. It significantly reduces resistance, negatively affects the state of the vessels of the legs, and also gives a potential risk of dislocation of the knee, which usually leads to a meniscus injury.
In flexible people prone to hypermobility of the knee joint, in standing poses with straight legs (eg utthita and parivritta trikonasana, parshvottanasana, etc.), the knee often bends back. This practice only increases the mobility of the joint and creates the danger of meniscus injury. To avoid this, you need to learn to fix the leg in the knee straight straight, without overdoing it. In this case, the muscles surrounding the knee joint (primarily the quadriceps muscle of the thigh) should be tense and fix the knee joint. This is especially important in postures supported by one leg, for example in vrikshasana, ardha candrasana and virabhadrasana 3 ( Fig . 15 ).
Practice of yoga with knee injury
If you experience a feeling of severe pain in the knee, if there were dislocations, attacks of sharp stitching pain, etc. – be sure to consult a doctor! If the ligaments of the knee or meniscus are damaged, surgery may be necessary. Most often, such operations are simple, temporarily restrict mobility and do not have negative consequences. At the same time, untreated meniscus and ligament injuries can subsequently lead to arthrosis of the joint.
If you feel a weakness in your knees, if your knees begin to creak and snap during practice or when walking – the joints are overexerted and your practice needs correction. Carefully study the materials of this article, temporarily reduce the load on your knees, removing from practice the most complex standing and sessile postures.
The following recommendations are relevant for mild knee injuries, as well as for arthrosis of knee joints of 1-2 degrees.
1. Discard any kind of vertical and lateral load on the joint. All standing postures should be reduced until complete recovery, as well as sitting postures with divorced knees.
2. The following poses are necessary for strengthening the muscular corset:
– lifting the legs alternately, sitting on the floor, hands resting on the back
– papurna navasana (lifting of both feet sitting on the floor)
– shalabhasana’s stage (lifting of the legs alternately lying on the abdomen)
– shalabhasana with a block, clamped between the knees (the block can be replaced with any light object)
– lifting the legs, lying on its side: only the upper; only the bottom; both legs; the same, on the other side
3. Do not allow knee joints to cool. In cold weather, wear knee pads, warm clothes.
4. Eat enough animal proteins. If you are a vegetarian, be sure to take a vitamin and mineral complex. The lack of proteins and trace elements significantly worsens the rehabilitation.
5. Perform heating procedures and warming massage (not with acute injury!).
After the disappearance of symptoms, it is possible to systematically introduce standing and sessile postures into practice in 1-2 postures per week, starting with the simplest ones. If after a week no discomfort in the knees does not appear – you can enter 1-2 more pose, etc.