Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions for which people seek medical treatment. It includes pain felt behind and around the knee cap, especially during activities like stair climbing, squatting, running, and walking while carrying a heavy load. Knee pain can prevent you from participating in your favorite activities and performing daily tasks. Without proper treatment, it can linger for years. Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which include knee stiffness, incorrect positioning of the knee cap at rest or with movement, flat feet, improper exercise form, and weakness of the muscles that control the hip and knee.
However, Yoga for knee pain can work with you to address your knee pain. After an evaluation, a physical therapist will design an individualized comprehensive treatment program to address the specific factors causing your knee pain. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation.
9 gentle yoga poses for knee pain
Always check with your doctor before starting yoga, and if you take a class, tell your yoga teacher beforehand about your knee pain. They can help with modifications if needed.
As always, if you experience a sharp, stabbing pain or can’t catch your breath, come out of the pose and take a break. If you try again, consider using a finer adjustment.
Here are nine yoga poses for knee pain, from least to most intense.
1. Warming up the joints
Yoga for hip and knee pain often begins with a range of motion exercises, and this is a good way to start a home practice.
Lie on your back, stretch both legs. Inhale and bend your right knee towards your chest. Hold your right knee with your right hand and start making circles with your hip in both directions. You can make these circles as big or small as you like.
Take time to circle your ankle before lowering your right leg and repeating the circles with your left leg.
2. Inclined position from hand to big toe
Unlike the standing version, the inclined hand-to-toe position gently lengthens the hamstrings and safely stretches the tendons and ligaments.
Lie on your back, stretch your legs long. Use the strap to wrap around the ball of your right leg. Breathe in and as you breathe out, raise your leg (a strap can help) to the ceiling. Keep both legs bent.
Take a few breaths here, gently stretching the hamstrings, then place your left hand on your left hip to remind him to stay firmly on the ground as you exhale and allow your right leg to open to the right. Go only as far as you can keep your left hip rooted to the ground. Take ten deep breaths, then use your right inner thigh muscles to bring your leg back to center. Lower and switch legs. It also helps in treating Sharp stabbing pain in knee comes and goes.
3. Low lunge
Low lunges stretch the hip flexors and can relieve pressure on the hamstrings. Start on all fours. If you feel discomfort, use a blanket to support your knees. Step your right foot forward between your hands. You can use the underhand blocks at any level if you need more space in the right hip crease. Make sure your right knee is directly over your right ankle.
Keeping your back toes tucked in, lift your back knee and move your foot back until you feel a stretch in your left hip flexor (the area on the front of your leg above the hamstring). Bring the knee back down and breathe in this position for five to ten breaths. If you feel comfortable, you can place your hands on your right thigh, or inhale them above your head for more of a balance challenge. Switch sides and repeat.
4. Half lord fish twist
Sciatica is a type of pain that can radiate down to the knee. Even if your knee isn’t the cause of your pain, this simple, soothing twist can help.
Extend both legs in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross it over your left so that your right foot is on the floor next to your left hip. You can keep your left leg extended or bent, but if your sit bones come off the ground when you bend, keep it extended.
Hug your right knee into your chest, then inhale and raise your right arm overhead, twisting away from your torso to place your right hand on the ground behind you. Keep your spine tall while your left hand hugs your right knee. Take five to ten deep breaths, then exhale to come back to center. Extend both legs and repeat on the other side.
5. Bridge position
Use a block in this position between the upper thighs to increase strength and bring balance to the leg muscles. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet hip-width apart. The heels should be about a handprint away from your hips. Place the block between your upper thighs. Bend your elbows and let your palms face each other across your body.
On an inhale, push through your feet and the backs of your arms to lift your hips toward the sky. Push the roundest part of the nape of the neck into the mat to maintain space behind the neck. Hold for five to ten breaths, then slowly descend as you exhale. Repeat twice.
6. Chair position
Chair pose strengthens the quads, glutes and hamstrings to support the knee. Stand tall with your feet together (or keep them slightly apart if that’s more comfortable). Bring your hands together at your heart, palms touching, on the breath.
As you exhale, tuck your hips back as if you were sitting in a chair. The toes should be clearly visible in front of the knees. Take ten deep breaths, then exhale and shake your legs.
7. Warrior II
Focus on safely balancing this position to improve strength. As you raise your arms into a T-shape, step wide onto the mat, feet parallel and ankles just below the wrists. Turn the toes of the right foot towards the short edge of the mat (the other toes point to the side). Your right heel should be in line with the arch of your left foot, so adjust your stance as needed.
Inhale and then bend into your right knee, which should stay directly above your right ankle. Engage your lower abdominal muscles and relax your shoulders. Look through the middle finger of the outstretched right arm. Make sure you can see the first and second toes of the right foot inside the right knee. Breathe here for five breaths, then go into reverse warrior before switching sides.
8. Reversed Warrior
From Warrior II, take a deep breath and turn your right palm toward the sky. As you exhale, allow your left hand to slide down your left leg and arch back with your right hand.
Keep bending at your right knee. Breathe here for five breaths, relax on the breath. Go to the other side and start with Warrior II.
9. Triangle position
Step out once more in a wide stance. Have a block ready at the top of your mat. Turn your right foot to the short edge of the mat following the same alignment instructions as the warrior.
Engage the quadriceps on the right leg – pull the kneecap and push firmly on the right big toe. Inhale your arms into a T shape and as you exhale begin to pull your right hip back (deepening the hip groove) as you reach forward with your right arm.
Once you’ve reached as far as you can, rotate your right hand to the block by your right foot (or the inside of your right foot) and reach your left hand toward the sky. Keep your shoulder blades on your back and imagine your heart and torso twisting toward the sky. If your neck is fine, turn and look at your left hand. Keep your knees up.
Is yoga good for knee pain?
Yoga for knee pain can be a safe and effective practice that addresses a variety of issues that arise in the knee. Contrary to what it sounds like, yoga for the knees (and hips) also often works on the area around the knee. It all has to do with the anatomy of your feet.
Just as ligaments connect bones to each other, tendons connect and stabilize bones to muscles. The four main muscle groups that surround the knee include:
- Quadriceps (knee extensors)
- Hamstrings (knee flexors)
- Hip adductors (inner thighs)
- Hip abductors (outer thighs)
Yoga for knee pain can also help balance the pull of each muscle group, strengthening their knee support while increasing the overall range of motion in the joint.
Should I do yoga if my knee hurts?
When your knees hurt with every step, you can stop moving. After all, if movement hurts, you should avoid it, right?
Not necessarily, While it’s always important to talk to your doctor before starting any new type of Yoga for knee pain, safe movement is usually incredibly beneficial for painful joints, including knees. Regular exercise increases lubrication in the joint, strengthens and lengthens tendons, and improves range of motion.