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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Half Lotus Explorations

Half Lotus Explorations

Articulations for Your Hips, Knees, and Ankles

hip mobility

HALF LOTUS POSE EXPLORATIONS

Lotus Pose may become accessible at different phases of your practice, but it might not ever become attainable. Half Lotus Pose and variations are a great way to see what is possible. Practicing these preparatory postures and/or actions also provides what is actually useful: nourishment for the hips. Ultimately, creating health, longevity, and  functionality in the hips is much more rewarding than just being able to say “Hey, I’m in Lotus Pose!” 

The only way to get to know yourself and your body is to be willing to experiment in your practice. Diving into the options Matt provides in this video tutorial of Half Lotus explorations is the perfect opportunity. They are still deep hip openers, but they may provide more scope for how to articulate the hips, knees, and ankles.

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EXTERNAL & INTERNAL ROTATION OF THE HIP

Executing Half Lotus doesn’t mean that you will find it easier; it’s simply an alternative entry that allows you to maybe more fully examine each side of your body in more isolation. Early in today’s clip, Matt breaks down “Half Lotus Half Hero Pose” as one of these Half Lotus explorations. Here, you have one leg in external rotation and the other in deep internal rotation. This is not only an excellent variation to explore if it is more accessible to you but also a way to examine where you are along the spectrum of the posture. More importantly though, it helps you increase mobility in your hips by working on both internal and external rotation. The hips are in external rotation in Lotus, but working on the opposite internal rotation creates more balance and health in the hip joint overall.

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HALF LOTUS EXPLORATIONS: ARTICULATIONS FOR YOUR HIPS, KNEES, AND ANKLES

ARTICULATION OF THE KNEES

In this Lotus article , I discuss how Matt explains the importance of the “closed” angle of the knees. This is vital, and there are some specifics to look at in these Half Lotus variations, especially regarding the use of props. Some ways to utilize props support the variations, and other ways can defer your progress. First, Matt recommends that you elevate your hips by sitting on a block or blanket. Bringing the hips higher allows you to keep your knees at a safer angle. Initially, once you externally rotate your hip, your knee might be quite high, so placing a block underneath it for support can also be beneficial. Matt explains that once you increase your range and develop the ability to bring your foot further across your body, you may notice that your knee will rest closer to the ground.

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ARTICULATION OF THE ANKLES

There are also specific joint actions that are necessary at the ankle. One of the ways to practice this is in “Half Virasana Half Cobbler’s Pose.” At the end of the video, Matt shows how to create eversion of the ankle. Having one leg in Cobbler’s Pose gives you a little bit more freedom to articulate this movement. You’ll see a demonstration of eversion of the ankle early on in the clip, but that variation may be less accessible. Why is eversion essential? It takes the stretch away from the outside of the ankle, which may cause injury. With eversion, you are shortening the outer ankle. When coming into any Lotus variation, performing this action can inform where to place your attention, which may be to create more opening at the hip and/or further closure at the knee.   

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HALF LOTUS FOR LIFE

Words like “resilience” and “fortitude” come to mind when we think about the Lotus flower or posture. In life, these qualities are essential to push through adversity and overcome obstacles. Sometimes working on finding more mobility in the hips can feel like a laborious task, but it’s through adversity, whether on or off the mat, that we truly learn about ourselves. Approaching these Half Lotus variations may take you right into the mud, so to speak, and it may be quite mucky and taxing, but when your experience begins to shift and you start to notice the possibilities, this is when you’ll rise and come into the light of your potential. Achieving Half Lotus may be exciting, but being able to say “Hey, I’m able to do all of the activities I love” is the true reward.

Register for Matt’s March 2023 Immersion Lotus to unleash your potential.

See you on the mat!

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Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings Immersion

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