3 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees: Build Strength to Minimize Pain
As the largest joint in the human body, our knees do a lot for us. We stand on our knees, walk with our knees, jump with our knees, and so much more. While the knee joint is incredibly adaptable, many suffer from knee pain or dysfunction. Luckily, though, you can use yoga to strengthen your knees!
Knee pain or discomfort can often be addressed with a simple remedy. Strengthen the muscles around the knees to protect your knees and minimize strain from daily activities.
Here are 3 yoga poses that will help you build healthy, strong knees to reduce minor discomfort and pain problems. Please bear in mind that everyone is different, and while some poses may help your knees, others may also irritate your knees. So always check with your doctor first, and be sure to move slowly and mindfully and modify the poses in any way that feels more appropriate for you. Build up slowly to protect your knees as you build greater strength.
Yoga for Healthy Knees: Strengthen your Quads with Chair Pose
Chair Pose is a classic posture in yoga that is excellent at building strength in your quadriceps. These muscles pull up against the top of your knee in the front to offer stability there, so it’s the perfect position when you want yoga to strengthen your knees.
- Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet either together or roughly hips-distance apart.
- Root firmly into your feet and energetically squeeze your legs toward each other.
- Bend your knees deeply and graze your fingertips against the floor.
- Keep your knees bent as you sweep your arms up toward the sky.
- Sink your hips low but lift your spine high. Feel your quadriceps activate to keep your legs up against the downward push of gravity.
- Continue to ground down against your feet as you lengthen up through your spine and hold for about 5 to 10 deep breaths.
- For an added challenge, you can lift one heel off the floor at a time or even both simultaneously as you hold.
Yoga for Healthy Knees: Bridge Pose For Hamstrings and Glutes
Bridge Pose is another classic posture for yoga to strengthen knees because it activates and strengthens the musculature on the backside of the thighs. This position builds strength in the hamstrings and glutes, which help to pull on and support the knees from the back.
- Lie down on your back.
- Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor roughly hips-distance apart. Align your knees roughly over your ankles and point your toes to face forward toward the top of your mat.
- Ground your heels firmly into the floor and, without movement, energetically draw your heels back toward your seat.
- Keep that action and, without movement, energetically draw your feet apart from each other toward the outer edges of your mat.
- Keep that action and, without movement, squeeze your legs toward each other.
- Keep all of these actions as you squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the floor.
- Slowly resist gravity as you lower your hips back down to the mat.
- Again, engage everything in the same way as you lift and lower your hips up and down for about 5 to 10 breaths. Then stop and hold at the top with your hips lifted for about 5 to 10 breaths.
Yoga for Healthy Knees: Give Your Adductors Some Love with Eagle Pose
Eagle Pose engages and strengthens the muscles of your inner thighs (your adductors) as you actively squeeze your legs together. You also balance on one leg in this posture, which can help to strengthen the musculature in your lower leg and outer hips to stabilize your balance.
However, it may be too intense if you have severe knee pain or dysfunction, so you can always modify by keeping both feet grounded.
- Start standing with your feet roughly hips-distance apart.
- Shift your weight into your left leg and become light on your right foot.
- Focus your eyes on one non-moving point in front of you.
- Bend both knees deeply and sink the weight of your hips toward the floor.
- When you feel stable, lift your right foot and cross your right leg over your left as if you’re sitting cross-legged. Option to tap your right toes to the floor, keep your right foot lifted off the mat, or double wrap your right foot around your left calf.
- Wherever you choose to be, squeeze your legs together firmly and keep your hips low.
- Open your arms out wide like wings and give yourself a hug as you wrap your right arm under your left. Option to stay as you are or option to double wrap your arms to bring either the backs of your hands or the front of your hands to meet.
- Squeeze your arms together as you also squeeze your legs together.
- Hold for about 5 to 10 deep breaths before returning to Mountain Pose.
- Take a few breaths in Mountain Pose before switching sides.
The Takeaway: Practice Regularly for Healthy Joints
Yoga can be a powerful tool to help you build strength and resilience across your whole body, including in your joints! Powering up the muscles that stabilize the knees through all our daily activities is a surprisingly effective way to minimize discomfort and keep minor knee pain at bay. As you strengthen and support the muscles surrounding your joints, your entire joint space becomes more stable and secure.
Of course, if you have an injury, you will need the help of a health profession, so as always, check with your doctor first before starting a new yoga practice.