Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

hip mobility

HIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN

“Hip opening” in a yoga class just sounds glorious if we feel confined or constricted in this area of the body and our intention is to transform this experience. The term may not sound glorious, however, if we know that knee pain will accompany hip-opening yoga postures. In this scenario, it can be quite daunting to try to move across the spectrum from having tight to more open hips. On the other hand, if we’re hypermobile in this area, it may also feel a little nerve-wracking to delve into the action of hip opening. The good news, whether we are hypermobile, hypomobile, and/or dealing with knee pain in hip-opening postures, is that we can explore similar techniques when it comes to creating increased range of motion without knee pain.  

In today’s video, Matt provides us with a roadmap to mitigate knee pain in 6 essential hip-opening postures.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF EXTERNAL ROTATION

Nursing knee pain while engaging in our asana practice can be a point of frustration. We may associate it with fear of reinjury or with memories of “what we used to be able to do without pain.” This is why education and exploration are vital—they help reignite possibility. 

When learning about knee pain and its connection to hip-opening postures, we must further comprehend what’s involved with external rotation at the hip. When practicing with Matt and learning the Chromatic way, we quickly find out that such rotation involves much more than just rotating the upper thigh. There are detailed steps that promote both activation and stretch of the muscles that surround the hip, which helps us more safely engage with external rotation and ultimately assists in reducing knee pain. We can apply what we learn in the following postures.

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HIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN: 6 POSTURES FOR INCREASED RANGE OF MOTION

ACTIVATE WITH INTENTION

One of the best ways to prepare our bodies and increase both flexibility and mobility is to activate/strengthen our muscles. When we do this, we have better control to independently move our joints through a broader spectrum of range of motion. We benefit from having more confidence and power during physical activity. 

Warrior II variation

In the first posture (a variation of Warrior II), we’re strengthening the buttocks and outer hips. Here are some key steps:

  • Pull the feet towards one another
  • Tuck the tail under
  • Push down through the front heel
  • Rotate the toes and shin out slightly while pulling the outer front foot back—this will activate the biceps femoris (external rotator of the knee joint)

Dragonfly variation

This variation includes a specific technique and also targets the biceps femoris, which  closes the knee joint, helping reduce pain in hip-opening postures.

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DRILL AND STRETCH

Pigeon Pose

Here, we explore a more passive stretch. The trick to getting a little deeper into the stretch (particularly into the piriformis muscle) is to twist and to push the hips back. If knee pain is still present, Matt demonstrates how to further externally rotate the thigh to take the pressure off.

Goddess Pose

This time, we learn a drill to incorporate into our practice.

Once again, pulling the feet towards one another will activate the outer hamstring muscles. Instead of remaining static, we pulse or move side to side in order to engage the muscles while we’re stretching. 

Skandasana

The target here is the adductor muscles, simply to experience the stretch. It’s not about how low we can take the posture. Keep in mind that by the time we reach this point in the practice, our muscles are already prepared for the stretch.

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THE ULTIMATE HIP OPENER

If we’re experiencing knee pain in hip-opening postures, Lotus Pose might be the farthest thing from our minds. Once we have incorporated the techniques into the postures discussed, the potential for this posture may become a reality. However, we still approach Lotus safely and in phases.

Preparation I

In a Baddha Konasana position, the cue Matt offers—pulling the knees back and out—is key to getting the proper placement of the foot in Lotus.

Preparation II

Executing these actions, we find out just how much they assist in providing us the ability to stack the feet or to access Half Lotus. The two actions result in the closing of the knee joint. If we are still experiencing knee pain in Half Lotus, turning the calf muscles can help release the strain.

Matt’s next online course, The Pose Factory, is full of these extra gems to help us to foster health in our muscles and support our ability to enjoy postures we may have had to put aside.

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Video Extracted From: Hip Release Online Workshop

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Strengthen Your Adductor Muscles

Strengthen Your Adductor Muscles

Incorporate These Drills Into Your Yoga Practice

activation

STRENGTHEN YOUR ADDUCTOR MUSCLES

The adductor muscles are commonly left as a lower priority when it comes to building strength in your yoga practice. It’s not that there aren’t opportunities, but more intention is required about when and how to incorporate the necessary actions that will actually strengthen this area of your body. The message from Matt is clear and simple: Engage your adductor muscles. You just have to do it! Taking action is the only way for transformation to occur.   Now, when it comes to when and how, Matt outlines in today’s video a number of different yoga postures and drills for you to include in your practice with specific techniques. It may take you out of your comfort zone, but that is exactly how you’ll develop. It’s these actions and drills that will open up your physical yoga practice to new postures, and your physical body to improved functionality.

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OVERSTRETCHING THE ADDUCTORS

In a yoga practice, the adductor muscles are often stretched without any engagement. I’m sure you can come up with a number of different postures where your adductors are in a lengthened position. Think of any wide-legged posture, such as Warrior II. How many times have you included this posture in your practice? 

The length and stretch sensation of the adductors can feel like the solution to tension or tightness in this area of your body. Releasing tension and increasing flexibility in your adductor muscles actually involves strengthening. This is why it’s imperative to be more calculated in your approach. Finding opportunities to strengthen your adductor muscles will promote their resilience and minimize the likelihood of them becoming overstretched, which can in turn cause injuries. Engaging them, however, can feel challenging, especially if you’re not used to inviting engagement into your practice.

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STRENGTHEN YOUR ADDUCTOR MUSCLES: INCORPORATE THESE DRILLS INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

REASONS WHY YOU MIGHT AVOID ACTIVATING THE ADDUCTORS

One of the first things Matt talks about in his 300 Hr. Teacher Training is the idea of resistance and how it will show up in certain areas of your life, especially with regard to creating transformation. You feel resistance when it comes to things you don’t particularly want to do, but this is also true even when it comes down to doing things you enjoy. You may love going to your mat to practice yoga, but incorporating intentional muscle activation to increase strength can be quite humbling and discouraging at times. If you want to strengthen your adductor muscles, or your whole body for that matter, Matt encourages you to lean into the resistance. It will reveal not only what’s taking place in your physical body but also more of what you need to know about yourself. This is the yoga practice. 

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TRY THESE DRILLS

Goddess Pose is the first posture in today’s video. Here, you have to abduct your legs in order to access the strengthening technique. Your adductors are in a lengthened position and feet are turned out, which will help target the adductor magnus in particular. In order to strengthen your adductors, Matt utilizes a facilitated-stretch technique.  

The next drill requires props, a wall and either a yoga block or bosu ball. This time, you’re in more of a closed position, while pressing one leg into the block. It gets your hip flexors and pectineus active. The adductors of both legs are strengthening while performing different roles.

The final drills are really variations of one another, and WOW do they challenge you! In addition to what they demand of your adductors, they also require you to integrate more of your body weight with each progression.

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ON THE OTHER SIDE OF RESISTANCE

Transformation lives on the other side of resistance. Before this is experienced, however, it’s inevitable that you will encounter challenges. A yoga practice that calls upon you to engage your muscles is effortful and can feel quite discouraging. It can tire your body more easily and therefore entice you to incorporate these strengthening techniques a little less than what’s required for actual transformation. But what you’ll find on the other side of resistance is both an unfolding of increased possibilities in your physical practice and a deeper awareness of your own fortitude.

If you want to strengthen your adductors, you’ll have to take advantage of the opportunities within your yoga practice. You can see that there are many opportunities in what Matt offers in today’s video. Once you try out the drills Matt demonstrates, you’ll find doors opening in your practice that you may not have thought possible.

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Video Extracted From: Anatomy in Motion

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read more
Chin Stand

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