- IT Band tightness
- Foot problems
- Weak quadriceps
Often when diagnosing runners knee it is a challenge for medical professionals to determine exactly what is causing the pain. Below are four yoga poses that can help with the most common causes of runner's knee.
IT Band tightness
A great pose or stretch used in yoga to help with IT band problems is a forward fold with alternate knee bends.
Come into a forward fold ensuring that you have a slight knee bend in both legs and are folding from the hips with a tight core leading with the chest.
Once in a forward fold on an inhale bend both knees, on an exhale bring one leg towards straight and keep the other knee bent.
You should feel a stretch in the area of the IT band and possibly the calve.
At the start of a practice I like to peddle the knees on one breath by the end of the practice I like holding the stretch on each leg for up to ten breaths.
The simplest way to correct this is to focus on postural alignment. Mountain pose, which is the most foundational pose in yoga, can help correct this issue.
It may seem a little too simple, but most of us have poor postural alignment and never bring awareness to the issue. Practicing alignment is a valuable use of time.
Place a block (you can use a dictionary, if you still have one!) in between your thighs. First focus on the feet, feel the four corners of the feet firmly on the ground, big toe, little toe and the inner and outer sides of the heel.
Align the knees to point forward externally rotating the hips feeling the back of the thighs press into the block. This aligns the femur which is a huge factor in the alignment of the knee.
Bring the pelvis to neutral, keep the core tight, the shoulders back and down and the neck long.
Hold this pose for 10 breaths release and repeat.
Become aware of your feet! This is simple, but once again we do not take the time to do this very often. Most of the time we are in shoes that do not allow for keen awareness. Using a tennis ball, lacrosse ball or dowl on the bottom of the foot can have great benefits in realigning the structure of the foot as well as increasing awareness.
You can once again use mountain pose for this issue. Focus on the four corners of the feet and actively press into the ground. Feel the outside of the feet heavy and the inside of the feet light. Feel the arch lift which will work the muscles in the arch and strengthen the foot.
A great way to combat overuse is through using restorative yoga. This style of yoga uses many different props such as bolsters, blocks, straps and blankets. The intent of using these props is to be able to come into a pose with little effort, which in turn allows you to let go and lets the body completely relax and release.
An example of this is supported deer.
You can use a bolster or pillows placing them at 90 degree angle at the left hip. Bring the left knee to the 45 degree angle. Bring the right knee to a 45 degree angle with the foot behind you. Place the left foot on the right thigh.
First bring the upper body upright on an inhale and on an exhale twist to the left and lay the body down on the bolster.
The quadriceps help extend the knee, by strengthening these muscles you will correct possible imbalances in strength which can cause a variety of problems. A great pose to strengthen the quadriceps, which has many other benefits including core strength is chair pose.
In chair pose begin in mountain. Inhale bring your arms up. On an exhale keeping the core strong, the torso upright and focus on your feet while bringing your hips back while bending into the knees.
Make sure that you can see your toes in front of your knees at all times and shift your weight into your heels.