The cartilage under your kneecap is called the patella. Overuse or injury of this cartilage may lead to a condition called chondromalacia patella, which usually results in pain while walking up and down stairs. Stretches performed in yoga, an ancient system of holistic health, may help in the treatment and prevention of chondromalacia patella. Consult with your health care provider before practicing yoga as treatment for your condition.
Yoga for the Knees
Yoga can improve the flexibility of your knee joints and strengthen the muscles that surround them. According to Yoga Journal contributor and physical therapist Julie Gudmestad, practicing yoga is an effective way to build strong and healthy knees. Gudmestad also stresses the importance of learning proper alignment in yoga from an experienced instructor to avoid worsening your knee problems or creating new ones.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-facing dog pose, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a commonly practiced pose in most forms of yoga. While on your hands and knees, lift your knees off the floor until they are straight, forming your body into an upside-down V-shape. Keep your spine in a neutral position and evenly disperse the weight in your hands. Stay in this pose for up to one minute. According to yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, this pose can counter damage done to the cartilage of the knees.
Virasana, also know as hero pose, can be beneficial in relieving pain associated with chondromalacia patella, if done in a supported fashion. Start by resting on your knees and sit between your heels on a pillow or yoga block. Make sure both knees are pointed straight forward and hold the position for up to three minutes. Upon releasing the pose, sit with your legs straight out in front of you for one minute.
Cautions and Considerations
If you're experiencing chondromalacia patella, inform your yoga teacher before taking class. Your teacher can recommend modifications to specific poses and keep an eye on your form. In general, if you're healing from any type of knee problem, avoid intense forward bending poses, lotus pose and pigeon pose. Also, avoid locking the knee joint both in and out of the yoga room. If a particular pose doesn't feel right, back off and skip it.