By Faye Martins
When attending a yoga teacher training intensive, Paul gave a lecture about pain that I could never forget. Basically, he said: “We usually take life for granted, when we are healthy, but when we are in pain, we can think of nothing else.” Yogic science directly addresses suffering and does its best to let us enjoy a pain free life. As you know, there are no guarantees in life, but we can be proactive toward living the best possible life during each precious moment.
A regular yoga practice is one of the best remedies for knee pain. Not only do physical therapists utilize certain yogic practices in their rehabilitation routines, but also physical, occupational, and yoga therapists have been recommending poses and series based on yogic techniques for decades.
Common Causes of Pain in the Knee
Knee pain occurs for a variety of reasons. Often, it is the result of old injuries such as torn ligaments or meniscus that have healed improperly or incompletely. Another common cause of knee pain is tendonitis, which can result from overuse of the patellar tendon. Some younger patients suffer from chondromalacia, which is caused by softened cartilage under the kneecap. Older patients may suffer joint pain in the knee as a result of arthritis, and sometimes scar tissue can build up around the knee from old muscular injuries, causing pain as well.
Common Solutions for Pain in the Knee
With some of the more common causes of knee pain, the best treatment is to ice and rest until acute inflammation has subsided, and then begin a consistent physical therapy program to promote strength and mobility. What physical therapy does is to strengthen and tone the muscles around the joint or site of injury, preventing compensation by or overburdening of the knee, promoting proper physical alignment within the leg and protecting the joint from stress placed on it by weak or under-performing muscles.
Why Yoga Works for Pain in the Knee
A daily or regular yoga practice can reduce or eliminate knee pain because some of the physical benefits of practice accomplish the same purpose that physical therapy does. The physical yoga poses aim to stretch, strengthen and align the body properly so that practitioners can enhance their mind-body connections. Thus, the strengthening and stretching of leg muscles during poses, especially of the muscles surrounding the hips and knees, can target knee pain particularly well.
There are some well-trained yoga instructors who will be able to put together a series of poses to reduce or eliminate knee pain, but be very careful. It is best to see a yoga therapist, who has been certified in using yogic exercise as therapy and should have additional training, or to ask a physical therapist what poses can help and what can hinder the healing process.
Although the maxim, “No pain, no gain,” may have traction with either you or your students, remember that knee pain can be a sign that you have gone too far. The purpose of yoga is to get you in tune with your body, and that includes listening to your body’s pain signals.
Side Notes for Teachers
Therapy is complex and requires each of us to enter into the world of continuing education. Whether you choose to take additional courses in specialist yoga teacher training or some form of therapy, you want to make sure any advice you give to students is within your qualifications to give. Additionally, instructors should know when to tell a student to back off from pain. As many of us have learned: Pushing on a skeletal joint will result in a permanent injury.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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