The Impact Of A Hip Stretch On The Knee Joint

The Impact of a Hip Stretch on the Knee Joint

Are Your Knees at Risk?

hip opener

THE IMPACT OF A HIP STRETCH ON THE KNEE JOINT

The knee joint can be quite vulnerable: Of the lower extremity joints, the knee sustains the highest percentage of injuries, particularly among physically active individuals.” 

Journal of Orthapaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Published Online: February 1, 2010. Volume 40 Issue 2. Pages 42-51 

In the full class from today’s clip, Matt begins with some great education about how hip stretches affect the knee joint. He explains that whenever we are stretching the hip, it not only places pressure on the hip itself but also on the knee. This of course can put your knees at risk of injury. The good news is that there are ways to help circumvent the potential for serious injury. In the clip, Matt teaches you how to approach hip external and internal rotation in 5 yoga postures with more integrity for the knee joint in order to keep it safe.

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HOW TO PROTECT THE KNEE JOINT

The previously cited article goes on to clarify that when hip muscles are weak, there is a direct link to knee injury. This aligns with Matt’s emphasis on the isometric contraction of the muscles that support the hips, knees, and ankles when executing various yoga postures. He carefully cues specific joint actions for more optimal positioning during activation to reduce the stress on and stretch of the ligaments around the knee joint. Because the knee is mainly supported by ligaments, they need to be strong to maintain stability. Now, positioning depends on what’s required for your body at a given time: “Abnormal motion of the femur can have a direct effect on tibiofemoral joint kinematics and strain the soft tissue restraints that bind the tibia to the distal end of the femur.”                                                  

Journal of Orthapaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Published Online: February 1, 2010. Volume 40 Issue 2. Pages 42 – 51  

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THE IMPACT OF A HIP STRETCH ON THE KNEE JOINT: ARE YOUR KNEES AT RISK?

WARRIOR II

In the video, you begin to see this potential for the abnormal motion or positioning of the femur in Warrior II. First, the positioning of your pelvis influences the amount of internal rotation of the femur. Matt cues a movement of the heel that will aid in further external rotation of the hip, but he suggests that you also consider directing your focus to the shin so that you’ll be able to witness the knee rotating back: Pressing your outer heel down while dragging it back will activate the biceps femoris muscle (hamstring muscle) to access the rotation of the shin. Now, if you discern that this creates more torque on the knee joint, you can back off on the amount of external rotation of the hip (femur) by placing more force on the inner or center heel when pressing down and pulling back.

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GODDESS POSE AND MALASANA

In Goddess Pose, you can really see the impact that the positioning of the femur and shin bones can have on the knee joint. There is a common tendency to internally rotate your shins when the knees are moving more outward, which may cause pain in the inner knees. You can avoid this by turning your feet more outward. Then, to create the isometric contraction and more external rotation of the shins, pull your outer heels towards one another—imagine each fibula (the outer shin bone) pulling in towards the midline of your body. And with a little extra anterior tilt, your pelvis stays back.  

You’ll notice the parallels in Malasana, Squat Pose. Keeping the knee joint safe requires the same awareness of the amount of external rotation versus internal rotation of the hip, along with the activation of the adductor muscles through a facilitated stretch.

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STANDING FIGURE 4 AND HALF LOTUS ON YOUR BACK

Standing Figure 4 Pose can place a tremendous amount of pressure on the knee joint of the top leg. Due to the way that the ankle presses up, the pressure is usually located on the inside of the knee. This causes the shin to almost push into and tweak the knee. Matt suggests rotating the shin down towards the ground while externally rotating at the hip joint. These two actions will help increase the space in the knee joint while creating less strain in the outer knee ligaments.

Hip external rotation along with knee flexion will support your ability to find Half Lotus on your back. As regards activation here, you can pull either the outer shin or the inner shin back. Generally, attempting to pull the outer shin back first is better for knee joint protection.

AVOID A FIXED MINDSET

It’s important to note that Matt’s Chromatic Yoga approach teaches you not to get fixed on specific positioning or alignment. Explore, so that you may discover what serves your body best in a given moment. In terms of the postures we’ve examined today, it may serve you to create more external rather than internal rotation. Wherever Matt cues more external rotation, you can explore the opposite, which may work better to decrease the pressure in the knee joint. Getting caught up in the idea that there is “only one way” may do more harm than good. For example in Malasana, more medial rotation of the shin bones has the potential to create more pain in the inner knees or to mitigate knee pain.

Register for the Blissful Hips Immersion to learn more about a practice that serves your body.


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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Blissful Hips Immersion

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Pigeon Leg Lifts

Pigeon Leg Lifts

Ignite Your Core-Hip Connection

pigeon drill

PIGEON LEG LIFTS

Pigeon Leg Lifts are the perfect example of how you can flip a common yoga posture on its head. You may have explored several variations of Pigeon Pose, but this out-of-the-ordinary drill/variation requires something quite different. Pigeon Leg Lifts boost your ability to feel how much of a role the psoas plays in how you experience your core. In fact, the psoas is considered to be part of the core, but it is not always part of the conversation. Its location in the body, combined with the knowledge of how to highlight it in your yoga practice, helps to bridge the gap between your core and hips. Tapping into this results in greater strength and stability in your yoga practice.

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THE PSOAS 

The iliopsoas (often referred to as the psoas) is actually a combination of two muscles, namely the iliacus and psoas major, but is often thought of as one. It’s unique in that it’s the only muscle in the body that crosses over between the upper and lower body. The psoas is a deep muscle that attaches to the lumbar spine and the inner thigh bone. Due to its location in the body, one of its main roles is to stabilize the lumbar spine. The psoas is both a hip flexor and external rotator of the hip, playing a significant role in how you move, on and off of the yoga mat. Contracting this muscle in Pigeon Leg Lifts promotes deeper range of motion and helps you connect more deeply with the abdominal muscles that are part of the core (i.e., rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques).

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PIGEON LEG LIFTS:  IGNITE YOUR CORE-HIP CONNECTION

THE CORE-HIP CONNECTION

The psoas works in conjunction with the other core muscles. As mentioned, it’s both a hip flexor and hip external rotator, but it also creates flexion of the spine. Spinal flexion is an entry point to understanding the core-hip connection. In my previous blog, Rectus Abdominis Handstand Drill, I discussed how Matt very intentionally utilizes the activation of rectus abdominis in order to create spinal flexion. Both the psoas’s ability to create the same action and the placement of its attachment points reveal that the psoas is essentially a bridge between the core and the legs. Understanding the link between the core and the hips has the ability to transform your yoga practice.

Activation and strengthening of the psoas is not often illuminated in unique ways in yoga classes. Practicing Pigeon Leg Lifts offers the opportunity to heighten the sensations within the core and the hips.

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  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

WAYS TO EXPLORE PIGEON LEG LIFTS

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates 2 ways to execute Pigeon Leg Lifts. In the 1st option, you’ll see that it’s almost like a “push-up” action with multiple repetitions. The pushing up, however, comes from driving your hips up as far away from your mat as possible. In both options, your arms stay straight, but the 2nd requires that after you lift your hips, you sustain and hold for a few breaths. If you’re looking to fire up the core, then Pigeon Leg Lifts will do it!  You can’t escape the intensity of what’s involved. As you lift your hips all the way up, you are simultaneously creating more spinal flexion while your front upper thigh is in external rotation to maintain the “Pigeon position.” If that’s not enough, the action of pressing down the ball mound of the back foot also ignites the psoas and the hip flexors of the back thigh.

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WHY IS THIS USEFUL?

The strengthening of the core, including the psoas, along with deeper spinal flexion is no doubt the “show stopper” of these Pigeon Leg Lifts. Doing this drill will promote greater stability and mobility for enhanced movement on and off of the mat. What’s incredible about the way Matt teaches is that he always provides a compassionate push. In the full class, he says that deliberately engaging muscles in your practice helps you understand what you struggle with the most. Once revealed, this understanding provides opportunities to work on those areas in order to achieve fuller body participation. Within all of this physical awareness, what ends up happening is an unfolding of the mind. Your ability to confront your perceived limitations also strengthens.

Join Matt’s Breath of Fire Immersion to experience the fullness of your practice.

See you on the mat!

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Breath of Fire Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

$148.00

Continue Learning

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