Knees aren’t really a discrete body part—they’re a zone of intersection, where various body systems, including muscular and skeletal, meet.
Knees aren’t really a discrete body part—they’re a zone of intersection, where various body systems, including muscular and skeletal, meet. One reason knee pain is so common is that there are many different elements at play in the knee, and that issues in the feet, hips, or elsewhere can manifest in the knee.
1. THREAD THE NEEDLE
Many knees benefit from the Thread the Needle pose, which is a hip opener. Place your right ankle over your left thigh and hug the left thigh in towards your body by holding onto it with your hands. Keep the right foot flexed to protect the knee joint. Stop if there is any discomfort in the knees.
Your knees have a little give to the right and left, but only through tendons that aren’t that forgiving. Try to treat the knees like hinges and avoid moving them in any other direction.
Place your right ankle over your left thigh and hug the left thigh to your body.
Knee scans might become the new fingerprints. Everyone’s knees have a different pattern of bumps and grooves, making them useful for identification.
2. STRETCH THE IT BAND
The IT band is a piece of connective tissue that runs from the outer hip down to the outer knee. When it gets overly tight, it can pull the knee off alignment.
Try this stretch for the IT band: Stand with your legs crossed at the ankles or shins, and carefully fold forward, bringing your hands onto blocks (or the floor if you can reach). Experiment with bending one or both knees gently (do not lock the knees either way) and shifting your fingertips side to side until you feel a good stretch in the outer thigh of one or both legs. Stay for five to ten breaths, then switch sides.
3. EXPLORE THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION
It can be useful to consider knee problems energetically, from an emotional or spiritual perspective. Where are you going in your life that your knees don’t want you to go? Are you going to the right place but just a little too fast? Do you need to slow down and rest for a minute before moving forward? These types of questions can give insight into what’s happening in the knees as an aspect of the whole self.
The knees can be the canary in the coal mine of postural or energetic imbalances.
4. THINK ARCHES
Fallen arches often affect the knees, the lower back, and sometimes even the neck and shoulders. Encouraging the arch to lift and support the weight of your body as you stand and walk can help all your other joints feel a little happier.
Certain shoes can help, but it’s also beneficial to practice lifting and spreading the toes while you are standing (ensuring that you do not lock the knees), which activates the arch of the foot. You could also try using toe spreaders, especially while you walk, which can help unbind tightness in the feet, encouraging the full use of the muscles and fascia of the foot structure.
5. A SIMPLE STRETCH
A simple knee therapy is to lie on your backand bend your knee in towards your body as you exhale and straighten the leg up to the sky on your inhale, holding the back of the leg gently. Try to keep the movement as straight and smooth as possible, noticing where the knee goes a little off alignment.
Try to keep the hip, knee, and heel all in one line, as if they were moving smoothly between two panes of glass. This can help to soothe the knee joint, lubricate the area, and reteach the knees how to move in clear, safe alignment.
+ THE KNEE-BACK CONNECTION
Stand tall and lock your knees. Notice what you feel in your back—usually it will tighten and maybe even hurt. If you soften your knee joints just a little, notice how that feels in your lower back—it’s usually a little softer. Notice if you tend to lock one or both knees when you are brushing your teeth or waiting in line. If you let the joint soften a little, you’ll be using your muscles instead of your bones to hold yourself up. If you can shift out of the habit of locking your knees, you may be surprised to find your lower back is a lot happier.