If you struggle with knee pain, yoga may offer relief. A regular exercise routine can help maintain good strength and mobility in the knees, which are crucial for walking and other daily activities, but choosing the right kind of exercise can be tricky. Many common exercises like running and aerobics are high-impact exercises (movements that put a high level of impact on the joints), which can put pressure on the knees and worsen knee pain.
Yoga, which is a low-impact exercise (increases heart rate while minimizing the amount of stress on the joints), is good for people with knee pain because it can reduce chronic pain while improving mobility, physical fitness, and overall quality of life. Understanding which poses to practice (and avoid) can ensure that you enjoy the maximum benefits of a regular yoga practice.
Benefits of Yoga for Knees
Studies have shown that repetitive, high-impact exercises like soccer and weightlifting can make knee pain worse. These activities are hard on the joints, and can increase the risk of joint injury and osteoarthritis, which causes knee pain, stiffness, and restricted joint movement, later in life.
In contrast, research has shown that yoga is helpful for the joints in the elderly and people with conditions that cause chronic knee pain. Yoga can improve mobility, walking speed, and posture in older adults. It also has a positive impact on the flexibility of the knee flexors—the muscles that help the knees bend and extend.
Yoga has been proven to reduce pain and stiffness in people who experience chronic knee pain, such as in the case of muscular dystrophy and rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga can be especially therapeutic for people with knee osteoarthritis, resulting in less pain and better mobility in this population. Regular yoga practice can therefore help those with arthritis become more active and experience a greater quality of life.
How to Practice
Like any form of exercise, yoga can be intense and potentially harmful if it isn’t approached mindfully. Certain types of yoga move at a faster pace and can actually put pressure on the knees. It’s important to choose a style that will minimize that to avoid exacerbating knee pain.
The best styles of yoga for knee pain include:
- Hatha yoga
- Iyengar yoga
- Restorative yoga
- Yin yoga
- Kundalini yoga
These are gentler styles that allow for mindful movement, which can lubricate the joints while preventing injury. If you’re new to yoga and have knee pain, it is better to avoid fast and…