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If you are a dedicated runner or even just occasionally take part in high-impact exercise, then it is likely you are no stranger to what is called ‘Runners’ Knee’. Anterior knee pain can be a difficult injury to live with if you are usually an active person, as the path to recovery is not always as straightforward as it may seem.
As stretching is an essential part to both preventing and healing Runners’ Knee, many sufferers (and potential sufferers) use yoga as part of their therapy. Convincing burly runners and athletes to take up yoga is not always the easiest task, but the benefits for those who do include it as part of their weekly exercise routine are stunning. If you need a little more convincing, here are just some of the ways you can use yoga to both prevent and heal injuries like Runners’ Knee.
Stretching is simply good form (especially for mysterious conditions like Runners’ Knee)
Runners’ Knee is actually not a well understood condition, and there are several theories as to the cause and nature of the injury. The most basic symptom is quite obviously knee pain, leading most experts to assume the problem lies in how the kneecap and the femur interact. This area of the body is covered in an intricate layer of muscles, ligaments and cartilage—all of which can benefit from a good stretch. It is here that yoga comes in: yoga is all about stretching and movement, making is great not only to loosen up perfectly healthy muscles but also in gentle re-working injured ones too.
Yoga is easy to fold into your recovery routine
It is important to consult your doctor or physical therapist about any change in your recovery routine, even if it is as simple as factoring in some yoga and stretching. Not all knee injuries are alike, and a medical professional will be able to better advise you on the level of physical activity that is likely to benefit your injury. Once you have the go ahead however, it should be easy to figure out how to make a easy yoga stretching routine work for you. There are plenty of yoga apps and websites to give you a start, and most gyms nowadays also offer sessions. So as well as using the appropriate fitness equipment in your recovery routine, you should also think about folding in some yoga—even if it is just a series of quick stretches.
It is not just the knee you need to think about
It might sound crazy, but often the best way to solve Runners’ Knee is not to focus on your knee itself, but the hips. Properly aligned hips will help ensure that your knees track and are not being forced to move in unnatural ways, which irritates the muscles and cartilage in the surrounding area.
As noted in this excellent article by the Yoga Journal, hip adductors are an often ignored muscle that are sometimes comparatively weak when compared to nearby muscles like the quadriceps due to the nature of most popular exercises. Strengthening your hip adductors can not only help improve your running posture, but also help various other health problems like a bad back. Yoga is almost exclusively the best way to strengthen your hip adductors, as experts tend to agree that overuse of hip abductors/adductors machines at the gym is more harmful than helpful. Instead, yoga poses like the extended triangle pose or wide-legged forward bend can help you work on getting these muscles strong naturally—and without too much effort.
You don’t need to be super flexible
Many people avoid yoga because they assume you need to be as supple and flexible as an acrobat in under to enjoy it. As a matter of fact, yoga can be enjoyed by people of either sex and with any level of flexibility and muscle strength. All you need to enjoy yoga is an open mind and a willingness to push yourself within your comfort zone. From there, recovery should not be far off.
webmd.com/ yogajournal.com/ huffingtonpost.com/