As I look at the picture above, I have knee envy of myself. How I would love to fold into a shoelace pose right now. I have had reasonably happy healthy knees for 24 years, I definitely didn't get any pain to warn me there was a real problem. But there were signs, the silent kind where we can just carry on and don't pay attention to because they are not loud enough. Well it got loud (in a very very poor teacher's dismount from Cobra pose) and here I am in knee-hab one week post surgery (yes I did a very good job of it) taking this opportunity to share all that I have on knees with anyone who cares to listen.
Perhaps it was a little noisy when I bent and straightened, when I sat cross-legged the right would sit for 4hrs without complaint, the left knee would feel stiff within half hour (symptom of fluid in the joint - Sukhasana Option 3 & 4 below always helped), there was a noticeable imbalance of tone between my inner & outer thigh muscles, and in the last week prior to the kneecap dislocating I happened to notice a definite outward pull of both my kneecaps when contracted. Now I am putting all my attention (finally) on getting my knees happy, and I am excited about it. I am on a knee-hab mission - Toe Stand Pose by NYE!
There doesn't have to be pain for your knee to be telling you something isn't right. Tightness in the joint, inability to fully flex when seated (usually indicates swelling, perhaps tissue damage), pressure at back of knee or behind knee cap, appearance of fluid or lax muscle tone in quad above or the inner thighs, noisy knees ...... they grind or clunk when you bend. They are all signs your knee would like some attention please. So good for you, you're reading this blog!
Lets face it, with any of the subtle symptoms listed above we know they are not going to improve in 10-20 yrs time if we ignore it, nor is it going to be easy to heal then either if it's got worse and a condition has developed. So, I invite you to come on a journey with me and give your knee some love now - and I guarantee in 20yrs you will be pleased you turned your attention to them, there is no doubt about that.
If the condition is acute (there may or may not be pain), particularly if there's a lot of restriction, I highly recommend attending to it with a Practitioner to assist sorting out what the real problem is so the rehabilitation is perfect for you (Brooke Cranney (& Sam!) at DP Physio are my fave and I credit her with some of my exercises below, but also to her knowing exactly what to do and who could help me as soon as possible. She put me in the best surgeons hands immediately). Alternatively an Exercise Physiologist (Brent Collier at Peak Health is fantastic and will be coming in handy a little further down the track for me). Both these Practitioners specialise in targeting the source of the problem and creating balance, and not bandaid solutions like creams, pills, massaging nor the tips I have given below to modify (these are to 'make do', they may not be enough to resolve the issue if it is acute).
Truth be known, it usually isn't your knee joint that is the problem - a knee issue often develops because of the way you use your feet (in gait) and/or the balance of stability & mobility of the hip joint (the Glute Medius plays a huge role in knee joint alignment). Your posture also plays a role in wear and tear on the knee joint - ie. over hyperextending the knees (often includes a sway back posture (aka "pelvis against the kitchen sink stance") is common and over time can cause imbalance and instability in the knee, but also back conditions.
Tips to modify your Yoga practice if you have knees (click to view);
Daily Knee Lovin' Practices which will improve your knee stability, mobility and alignment;
As I am currently limited to 1 & 6 for the moment, these exercises will increase in intensity very soon - but the basics are so important, skip these and we will only compensate with our imbalanced habits for the big moves. Do not underestimate the power of these simple practices, I strongly believe if I had been doing these for even 3 months prior to May such a simple move (i.e. a badly manouvered floppy feet twisted half cobra left knee loaded dismount) may not have caused my injury.
Along the way there will be a lot of focus given to correct gait and use of feet, stability of the hip (esp. Gluteus Medius) exercises, knee alignment and correct loading - with much patience and persistence we will be toe standing by NYE!
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